Envision Virgin Racing’s Robin Frijns became the eighth winner in the eighth race of the 2018/19 season of the ABB FIA Formula E Championship, followed by DS Virgin Racing’s Andre Lotterer and Audi Sport Abt Schaeffler’s Daniel Abt.
Starting under the BMW i8 Safety Car due to the damp conditions, the 2019 Paris E-Prix saw new poleman Oliver Rowland (after Pascal Wehrlein’s time was cancelled for incorrect tire pressures) crash out in the opening minutes, handing his teammate Sebastien Buemi the lead.
With Buemi leading, the Swiss driver was shadowed by Envision Virgin Racing’s Robin Frijns and Venturi’s Felipe Massa in third. With Attack Mode activated, Frijns lunged for the lead before Buemi also made for the Activation Zone. While both cars ran with the additional 50kW of power, the drivers jostled for the top spot with Massa keeping his distance in third.
Heading into Turn 8, Buemi slowed, handing Frijns the lead before heading into the pits with a technical issue. Now in the lead, Frijns headed up the pack with DS Techeetah’s Andre Lotterer in second and Massa in third. With heavy rain fast approaching, the track conditions worsened, causing traction issues for all 22 drivers. After Frijns made contact with former race leader Buemi, the Dutchman’s front splitter appeared to be coming loose.
More rain and hail led to a full course yellow being introduced, with the cars and drivers temporarily keeping their speed to 50km/h. By the time the racing got underway again, there were 23minutes left on the clock. NIO’s Tom Dillmann clipped the wall, damaging his car and retiring from the race.
Further down the pack, Envision’s Sam Bird overshot Turn 3 before Rowland took BMW i Andretti Motorsport’s Alex Sims out of the race, causing another full course yellow.
Battling against some of the most challenging conditions yet seen in Formula E, a number of drivers struggled to keep their cars facing in the right direction. With Frijns, Lotterer and Abt all striving to keep their place on the podium, Venturi’s Edoardo Mortara collided with Panasonic Jaguar Racing’s Alex Lynn at Turn 13 before they came to a halt in the wall. While the cars were recovered under a full course yellow, only 17 cars and drivers remained on track with only minutes of the race remaining.
After the safety car returned to the pit lane after Lynn and Mortara’s car’s were recovered, Frijns had less than two minutes left to hold the lead from Lotterer on the attack. Moments later, Mahindra’s d’Ambrosio also hit the wall at Turn 3, ensuring the race would end under caution.
“The last thing you want in a race is rain and it was very slippery for everyone — everybody went off at some point. I crashed as well, so it was very tricky conditions and difficult to know what the rain would do to the track,” admitted Frijns. “You’re surviving really and knowing that you’re leading, you’re the first car and anticipating the grip in the corners. Andre was behind me and he was waiting for me to make mistakes. So, the pressure was on all race long. I didn’t have much time to rest, only during full course yellows, but it was definitely one of the toughest races.”