Di Grassi wins Mexico City E-Prix in epic finish

Image by Bloxham/LAT

Di Grassi wins Mexico City E-Prix in epic finish

Formula E

Di Grassi wins Mexico City E-Prix in epic finish

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A wild finish in Mexico saw Formula E veteran Lucas di Grassi of Audi Sport Abt Schaeffler muscle his way past the depleted Mahindra Racing entry of Pascal Wehrlein for the win in an epic photo finish.

At the race start, taking advantage of the chaos and lock-ups on Turn 1, Nissan e.dams’ Oliver Rowland moved from fourth to second behind race leader and polesitter Wehrlein. At the back of the pack, Envision Virgin Racing’s Sam Bird moved up three places to 19th.

Less than five minutes in, Panasonic Jaguar Racing’s Nelson Piquet Jr. collided with the back of reigning champion Jean-Eric Vergne (DS Techeetah) coming into Turn 14, launching his car over JEV’s and into the barrier on the other side of the chicane that makes up Turns 14,15 and 16. Shaken, Piquet climbed out of his wrecked I-Type 3 and into the Medical Car. With the Red Flag out, the cars returned to the garages while the wreckage was cleared from the track, giving the team time to patch the damaged cars.

With the clock still counting down under a red flag, the decision was taken to add 26 minutes to make up for the downtime. Heading back out of the pit lane behind the Safety Car, the clock was reset with 40 minutes of racing remaining.

Shortly after the racing restarted, fifth-place BMW i Andretti Motorsport’s Antonio Felix da Costa attacked Nissan e.dams’ Sebastien Buemi in a bid to climb up to fourth. Neck and neck through Turn 15, Buemi held da Costa off. With 31 minutes remaining, all but Daniel Abt (Audi Sport Abt Schaeffler) and Alex Sims (BMW) had engaged at least one of their two permitted attack mode. For the Mexico City race, drivers are permitted to use the in-race power boost twice for a total of four minutes each time.

At the front of the pack, Wehrlein led the way with Rowland and di Grassi close behind in second and third respectively. Further down the pack, Vandoorne came under investigation for using his fan boost too early as well as using too much energy, which resulted in a drive-through penalty on top of a five second penalty for the Belgian rookie.

With only nine minutes left, di Grassi made a bid for second place, snatching a last-minute attack mode boost. Following suit, Rowland also took the boost on the next lap, as did his teammate Buemi in fourth. Jostling for a place on the podium, di Grassi slipped into second, sending Rowland down to third in front of Buemi who remained in fourth.

Desperate for the win, di Grassi was hot on the tail of Wehrlein, using his extra energy to make a break down the start/finish line. Buemi and Roland, with only 2 percent energy left and two lap to go, fell to the back of the pack. Wehrlein, having spent his energy defending di Grassi, was left depleted — hitting zero percent just before the finish line.

Di Grassi pounced, slipping down the inside to take the win by a whisker, leaving the Mahindra driver in second and da Costa in third. Suffering a five second penalty, Wehrline lost his podium place, giving way to a second place finish for da Costa and a third place finish for Venturi’s Edoardo Mortara.

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