Jerome D'Ambrosio took his second ever win in the ABB FIA Formula E Championship in his second race for Mahindra, holding off the Envision Virgin cars of Robin Frijns and Sam Bird at the flag in yet another chaotic and entertaining Formula E race.
The race got off to an exciting start as Jean Eric Vergne attempted an ambitious move up the inside of pole-sitter Bird into turn 1. Bird turned into the corner normally, not expecting such a move, causing Vergne to spin down to the back of the pack in the process. As the Techeetah spun across the track the drivers who started on the outside of the grid (Buemi, Evans, Piquet) had to take evasive action, dropping them down the order. Di Grassi was also caught out in the turn 1 concertina and ploughed into the rear of Wehrlein who ultimately retired with damage, angrily slapping the garage light rig as he stormed to the paddock. The HWA cars of Paffett and Vandoorne also collided with each other resulting in Vandoorne's retirement on lap 1, Paffett would also later retire with a rear puncture.
The early portion of the race was led by Sam Bird from the BMW pair of Sims and Da Costa with the BMW's swapping order on lap 3 with the top six filled out by Frijns, D'Ambrosio and Di Grassi who had damage on his nose and wheel pod from the turn 1 collision with Wehrlein. It was clear that the BMW's had a pace advantage over the Virgin of Bird and eventually Da Costa forced an opening into the turn 4/5 chicane, forcing Bird to cut the track and cede the position. As Bird lifted Sims opportunistically took the advantage, beating Bird on the brakes into turn 7.
Between qualifying and the race the attack mode allocation was announced to the teams, with the drivers required to use the power boost twice, with each activation lasting for 4 minutes. In the early stage of the race the front 6 seemed reticent to make use of the attack mode, hoping to save it for later on or the event of a full course yellow or safety car. Günther was the first to make use of the high power mode making positions but ultimately didn't have the pace for points.
The fan boost results were announced 20 minutes into the race with the unfortunate Vandoorne again winning the biggest share of the vote though he, as well as Wehrlein, would be unable to make use of the power boost.
Fan boost allocation
|Da Costa||BMW iAndretti||16%|
As the race wore on Bird continued to drop down the top 6, letting his teammate through and then being passed by D'Ambrosio and Di Grassi. The BMW's then drove through the attack mode activation in formation as a small gap had formed as the rest of the top six squabbled over the final podium spot, pulling a sizeable gap. The Audi powered cars seemed to struggle for pace at points in the race, allowing D'Ambrosio to take advantage, moving into 3rd. Di Grassi then used attack mode to move into 4th ahead of Frijns putting both Virgins into 5th and 6th. The Virgins then drove through the attack mode activation in unison and were able to re-pass Di Grassi.
Like in Ad Diriyah the Techeetahs had good race pace, Lotterer carving his way through the field from a mistake in qualifying and Vergne executing a solid recovery drive through the field after his turn 1 mistake and both reached the middle of the top 10 by the end of the race, but it will be another race where the potential of the car was maybe not fully reflected in the result. BMW also looked to be delivering on the promise of their pre-season testing form out front and a second win of the season when Sims attacked Da Costa around the outside into turn 7, both drivers locked both front wheels as Da Costa slid on the narrow inside line into the barrier and retirement. Sims managed to stop his car and cut around the back of Da Costa but dropped behind D'Ambrosio and the Virgins into 4th.
With Da Costa's car stricken in a dangerous spot the safety car had to be called with D'Ambrosio in the lead ahead of the Virgins. Under the safety car D'Ambrosio, Sims, Di Grassi and Dillmann all armed their final attack mode, enabling D'Ambrosio to defend to the chequered flag in a 1 lap sprint to the finish when Da Costa's car was eventually cleared.
|7||Di Grassi||Audi Abt||+1.633||7*|
|19||Da Costa||BMW iAndretti||DNF||0|