After three straight non-points finishes, DS Techeetah driver and reigning ABB Formula E champion Jean-Eric Vergne clinched his first win of the season on the streets of Sanya, China. The Frenchman was followed by Nissan e.dams’ rookie Oliver Rowland and BMW i Andretti Motorsport’s Antonio Felix da Costa in third, who climbs to the top of the championship standings.
Rowland, starting from the pole, was quick off the line with Vergne chasing him down in second and da Costa in third.
Within the opening minutes, Envision Virgin Racing’s Sam Bird went off the track at Turn 5, ending the championship hopefull’s race. Shortly after Bird’s retirement, HWA Racelab’s Stoffel Vandoorne also retired from the race reporting damage to the car. Both drivers came under investigation shortly afterward for causing a collision.
Once the Attack Mode Activation Zone was in action, the drivers started filing through. Each driver must arm Attack Mode at least twice, with each activation giving them an additional 25kWh for four minutes.
Rowland, still out in front, led the pack with 30 minutes left of the race. Meanwhile, both Geox Dragon drivers retired from the race, bringing the total number of drivers who succumbed to the Sanya street circuit to four.
With his teammate out of the running, Envision’s Robin Frijns overtook Audi Sport Abt Schaeffler’s Lucas di Grassi to move into seventh, while the former champ struggled to activate Attack Mode, missing the Activation Zone twice.
Hungry for his first win of the season, reigning champ Vergne made a break for the lead on Turn 11, sending Rowland down to second.
Shortly after this, BMW i Andretti’s Alex Sims clipped the wall, causing damage to the rear of his car which left him stranded on track. With the red flag out, the clock was stopped with 12 minutes left.
The final minute of the race saw chaos unfold as di Grassi, running in sixth, was taken out when Frijns careened into the Brazilian driver at Turn 8. With the furious di Grassi stranded, the race finished under a full-course yellow, as Vergne took the checkered flag.
“This is our first win as a new team, and I feel very proud and happy to have been able to bring this victory to DS,” said Vergne, who had a late scare when he was investigated for not respecting the safety car procedure but escaped with a reprimand. “It’s a new relationship and it’s always difficult when you start. But after 20 races in a row with points, the last three races not being able to score any points was extremely hard — I didn’t sleep very well between Hong Kong and here.
“It was a big day for us — we’re a Chinese team and winning here was absolutely amazing. On the podium, when we had the Chinese anthem and all the fans were singing… it was actually quite emotional.”