Lucas di Grassi wins in style in Mexico

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In an extraordinary finish, Brazilian Lucas di Grassi denied Mahindra’s Pascal Wehrlin to claim his first win of the season in the action-packed Mexico ePrix.

Starting from the pole position, Pascal Wehrlein led the entirety of the race. The German-Mauritian driver snatched the pole position with a lap time of 59.347, over three tenths clear of the second-placed Lucas di Grassi.

As the lights went out, Pascal Wehrlein managed to held his lead. However, taking advantage of the chaos around the tight first bend, Oliver Rowland moved from fourth on the grid to second. The Briton’s bold manoeuvre could have ended in tears, but di Grassi was generous and swerved to the left, avoiding a potential carnage.

Only five minutes into the race, Panasonic Jaguar driver Nelson Piquet Jr tangled with reining champion Jean Eric Vergne. The Brazilian’s car went airborne and ended in the barriers. The former FE champion was shaken, but could climb out of his wrecked car.

The red flag was brought out to give the track marshalles time to clear the debris and wreckage. With the red flag period, teams could repair the damages on the cars.

The race was resumed after 26 minutes. Cars returned to the track behind the safety car. Di Grassi, Buemi, da Costa, Abt and Vandoorne received fanboost for the race. The Belgian was the first to use his extra blast of power, but he was found to have used too much energy and earlier than allowed, which resulted in a time penalty and a drive-through penalty.

Meanwhile, Geox Dragon’s driver Jose Maria Lopez endured a penalty-packed race. The Argentian was handed a time 10-second time penalty for overspeeding in the pit lane, a drive through penalty for overpower during regeneration and another time penalty for crossing the white line at the pit entry.

The final minutes

The race at the front was a kind of procession. After his sensational qualifying performance, Felipe Masse slipped down the order when he had to take care of his enegry management towards the end of the ePrix.

However, with ten minutes left on the clock, the front runners started activating their second and last attack mode boost. Buemi and da Costa were the first to use their additional 4-minute-long boost, enabling them to close in on the leading pack. Lucas di Grassi was the next to activite the special energy mode. When Rowland also took the boost and went off the racing line, di Grassi snatched the opportunity and slipped into the second place, sending Rowland down to third in front of his team-mate Buemi.

With only two minutes remaining, Nissan eDAMS drivers Buemi and Rowland got into trouble as they only had six per cent of energy. The Frenchman and Briton were desperate to manage the situation, but they fell to the back of the back. Wehrlein was trying to resist the pressure coming from di Grassi, but he was also tight on energy. In the end, the 24-year-old also ran out of energy exiting the final corner and started to slow only metres from the chequered flag. Di Grassi took the win by a whisker. The Mahindra driver arrived in second, but was hit with a 5-second time penalty, which promoted da Costa to second and Edoardo Mortara to third.

The championship standings

After four races into the season, Mahindra’s Jerome d’Ambrosio leads the Drivers’ Championship with 53 points. The Portuguese Antonio Felix da Costa is second, only by a point in front of Sam Bird. With his triumph, di Grassi jumped into the fourth place in the standings following a difficult start into the season.

In the Constructors’ Championship, Mahindra Racing leads the way with a healthy 10-point gap in front of the Envision Virgin Racing team. Newcomer BMW i Andretti Motorsport is in the third place in the standings.