Lucas di Grassi, the Abt Schaeffler driver has extended his lead in
the FIA Formula E Championship with a flawless drive in the Visa Paris ePrix
held on April 23, 2016. Grassi took the lead the moment the race started and
managed to hold on to his lead, except the two laps during the car swap pit stop
Meanwhile, Chinese racer and debutant
Ma Qing Hua crashed heavily in the closing stages. The driver miraculously
escaped unhurt, but the Team Aguri car was buried against the wall and the
Qualcomm Safety Car was deployed. With only five laps left, the race finished
under yellow flags, and di Grassi’s third win of the season was assured.
Bruno Senna was ninth for
Mahindra Racing while teammate Nick Heidfeld picked up two bonus points for
setting the Visa Fastest Lap in a charge from last place on the grid
Among the sell-out 20,000 crowd,
there was France Prime Minister Manuel Valls, Anne Hidalgo, Mayor of Paris,
Rachida Dati, Mayor of the 7th Arrondissement and FIA President Jean Todt .
“I think it was the most
perfect start we had so far,” he said, adding that “Sam had a lot of wheelspin
and I just managed to avoid getting any. Jean-Eric also had a very good start
and I was looking in my mirrors to make sure that he didn’t get room on the
inside. From then onwards I was pushing really hard, even after the Full Course
Yellow. After the pitstop, on the cold tyres the car was just sliding for two
laps as I tried to build up the temperatures and he caught up a bit. To see
people all around the track cheering, on the inside of the track and the
outside… it’s just amazing what was done here today and I hope we race here
many more times and in more cities like Paris. This is what Formula E is
Sam Bird scored three points
for securing Julius Baer pole position, but a slow start meant he was passed
not just by di Grassi, but also by his DS Virgin Racing team-mate Jean-Eric
Vergne. The two had a thrilling battle, trading paint in close-fought, but fair
racing either side of the pit stop.
The contest ended when Bird
made an error under pressure from Sebastien Buemi, who’d driven a charging race
from eighth on the gird. The Brit outbraked himself and took to the escape
road. He was able to execute a spin-turn and rejoin but he was back in sixth.
This left Vergne, who’d won
the FanBoost vote, clear to equal his best Formula E result and clinch his
first podium finish of the season.
“This season has been very
complicated for me so far but the team has helped me go through the procedures.
Paris for me was an important race, not just because it was my home race, but
because I wanted it to be the start of my season. I didn’t win the race today
but I’m on the podium. It was a very clean race from our side and for the rest
of the season I’m going to keep pushing for podiums and wins. Of course, I’m
extremely happy for the team with DS Virgin being not just English but a French
brand with the car manufacturer DS.”
Third for Buemi meant he’s
conceded even more ground in the championship, and is now 11 points behind, but
after the travails of qualifying, a podium finish was a decent result at a
track where overtaking was proving difficult, even with the addition of the
extra FanBoost power the Swiss driver’s fans had secured him.
“We’ve had some tough running
in the last few races,” he said. “We’ve found some answers on our brakes and
they worked well in qualifying but here we just lacked temperature as it needs
to be hotter to warm our tyres. Our pace over one lap wasn’t good but in the
race I think we were the quickest out there today. We caught up to others and overtook
so it shows that once everything is up to speed it’s OK. We just have to work
very hard up to the end of the season. We had the best package at the start of
the season but I don’t think that’s true anymore. We will come back. It’s
annoying to be a bit behind in the championship but Lucas did a great job and
deserves the win. When it’s hotter it will help us.”
Nico Prost was passed by
Buemi, but held on for a solid fourth place in his home race. Stephane Sarrazin
made it three Frenchmen in the top-five and kept up his record of scoring
points in every race this season.
The fourth French driver -
Loic Duval - was a FanBoost winner for the first time, but it wasn’t going to
be his day as he was the first retirement of the race with mechanical problems in
his Dragon Racing entry.
Robin Frijns drove another
strong race for Andretti and was the first of the season one tech runners in
seventh after a great race-long battle with the similarly-powered Team Aguri
car of Antonio Felix da Costa. Bruno Senna was ninth for Mahindra, Daniel Abt -
who led for a couple of laps during the pitstops - was 10th for Abt Schaeffler,
while Nick Heidfeld picked up two bonus points for setting the Visa Fastest Lap
in a charge from last place on the grid.
Formula E continues its
European adventure with the Berlin ePrix, which takes place on May 21.
Source: FIA Formula E
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