Winner of the earlier race, Felix
Rosenqvist of Mahindra Racing could only manage a fourth position, having done
terribly in the qualifying race. Rosenqvist’s teammate Nick Heidfeld was not
able to finish the race.
Rosenqvist - who entered
Santiago as the points leader and the winner of the past two races - started
way back in 14th after a dismal qualifying session, but salvaged points in
Vergne led away from Julius
Baer pole position with a number of cars making moves behind. Lotterer jumped
Sebastien Buemi off the line to move into second place, but Panasonic Jaguar
Racing driver Nelson Piquet Jr. caught them both unaware with a bold
late-braking move around the outside of the first corner.
As the field streamed through the opening
section, the squeeze came in the mid-field with Jose Maria Lopez running out of
road in close proximity with Sam Bird and hitting the wall on the outside of
The Qualcomm safety car was
deployed to clear both Lopez and the stricken Venturi of Maro Engel who went
into the barriers at Turn 7. Piquet looked to have lost out on the restart, but
piled the pressure on Vergne with a move for the lead only a few corners later.
Vergne placed his car well and held off a
fast-charging Piquet despite a bump from behind, which wouldn’t be the only
close-call in his wing mirrors for the remainder of the race.
Approaching the pit-stop phase, Vergne started
to extend his lead to over three seconds as Piquet fell into the grasps of
Lotterer. The German scythed his way into second place past Piquet and set his
sights on his team-mate.
Lotterer slowly reeled in
Vergne moving into his slipstream and drew alongside into the main overtaking
point at Turn 1. Both drivers came perilously close to exchanging paintwork,
but Vergne held his nerve and forced Lotterer to retreat.
However, Lotterer hadn’t
thrown in the towel yet and tried to mirror the move again but misjudged his
braking and hit the back of Vergne. Smoke poured from Vergne’s wheels as his
team-mate was pushing him from behind.
Despite the helping hand from
Lotterer, both cars managed to avoid the wall and the threat of other cars
behind to deliver maximum points for Techeetah and vault the team to the top of
the standings. It marks the first victory for Vergne since the season-finale in
Montreal last year, which was also his first in Formula E.
Joining the two Techeetah drivers
on the podium was Sebastien Buemi, showing once again that the form of Renault
e.dams in Hong Kong was merely a blip. Buemi slipped backwards on the long run
down into the first corner and struggled to match the pace of his rivals in the
early phase of the race.
Buemi and Bird re-enacted
their close duel in Marrakesh in the battle for fourth place, with the DS
Virgin Racing driver hounding the back of his gearbox. The group held station
until the mid-race car swaps, which saw Rosenqvist leap up the order ahead of
Bird - allowing Buemi to focus on Piquet and surpass his fellow champion to
secure a spot on the podium.
Bird picked-up the additional
point for Visa fastest lap and took the chequered flag in fifth after a slow
pit-stop and benefitting from Piquet’s late lunge on Buemi into Turn 1. Piquet
looked to re-take the position he lost earlier but locked his brakes and ended
up losing time reversing out of the run-off area.
Piquet’s team-mate Mitch Evans
followed close behind in seventh, with Jerome D’Ambrosio, Antonio Felix da
Costa and Nico Prost rounding out the top 10 points-paying positions. The next
stop on the Formula E calendar sees the series return to Autodromo Hermanos Rodriguez
for the third edition of the Mexico City E-Prix for round five of the ABB FIA
Formula E Championship on March 3.
FIA Formula E Media Room