Formula ERace report

Di Grassi beats Wehrlein at final corner of Mexico Formula E race

2016/17 Formula E champion Lucas di Grassi took his first win of the 2018/19 season for Audi Sport Abt Schaeffler after passing Pascal Wehrlein at the final corner.

Wehrlein’s Mahindra started on pole and led the opening stages while fellow rookie Oliver Rowland jumped from fourth to second into Turn 1, passing di Grassi and Felipe Massa.

The action was quickly halted when the red flags were shown, for only the second time in an FE race, when Nelson Piquet’s Jaguar flew over the top of reigning champion Jean-Eric Vergne, collecting the BMW Andretti of Alexander Sims along the way.

Piquet was attempting a pass into the final chicane for eighth when he ran into the back of the DS Techeetah and was launched into the air. Luckily for Vergne, his car was allowed to be repaired under the red flag.

When the racing resumed, 40 minutes remained on the clock. The top three began to pull away from the squabbling pair of Sebastien Buemi and Antonio Felix da Costa, who made contact at the Turns 3/4 chicane when the BMW attempted a move on the inside, leaving him with bent steering.

Despite this the pair then began to close in the leading trio again. Di Grassi then clinched second when Rowland went wide in the stadium section immediately activating his Attack Mode boost with nine minutes remaining.

He and Wehrlein raced nose-to-tail for the remainder of the race, but di Grassi had a small advantage in useable energy. Wehrlein was able to fend off the Audi until the final lap, Di Grassi made an attempt at the Turns 3/4 chicane but Wehrlein cut across it after contact was made.

He emerged from the final chicane still leading, but ran out of energy going through the final curve onto the pit straight, with di Grassi flying sideways past him to cross the finish line 0.2 seconds ahead.

Wehrlein however was given a five-second time penalty for cutting the chicane, which dropped him to sixth.

Nissan e.dams hit worse trouble however, as both Rowland and Buemi ran out of energy on the final lap while running third and fourth respectively. That launched da Costa into second and Venturi’s Edoardo Mortara into third  to score his second FE podium, having run sixth earlier but with more useable energy.

From 18th on the grid Jerome d’Ambrosio had a strong start to get to 12th by the end of the first lap and worked his way into the points throughout the race. In the closing stages as the chaos unfolded, he climbed to fourth ahead of Andre Lotterer.

Mitch Evans was seventh for Jaguar ahead of Felipe Massa who scored his first FE points.

Pre-race points leader Sam Bird came up to ninth from the back of the grid after he suffered a mechanical failure in qualifying. Daniel Abt completed the top 10.

The result means d’Ambrosio reclaims the lead in the driver’s championship by seven points to da Costa, who is one point ahead of Bird. Mahindra also retakes the team’s championship lead by 10 points to Envision Virgin Racing.

Vergne finished 13th for a second consecutive non-scoring race after he was pitched round by Evans in the stadium section while running 10th. Sims recovered to 14th after his car was repaired in the pits shortly before the red flag.

Jose Maria Lopez received a drive-through penalty for exceeding the regen limit, but also received a five-second penalty for crossing the pit lane entry line. The Geox Dragon driver moved to the pit entry before cutting back onto the circuit ahead of Robin Frijns.

His new team-mate Felipe Nasr also struggled as he was spun round by NIO’s Oliver Turvey in the stadium section before his car ran out of energy at the end of the race.

Stoffel Vandoorne was 18th after picking up a drive-through penalty for using too much energy while using FanBoost, and a further five-second penalty for using it too early as the boost cannot be used before the 22nd minute of the race.

Click here to see the race results.

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Chris Stevens

Chris is a member of the Autosport Academy and has been writing about motorsport professionally since 2015. He has been one of the top Formula E journalists since he went to Donington Park for pre-season testing a week after picking up his A-Level results.

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