MONTREAL, Quebec — Brazil’s Lucas di Grassi put on a commanding show Saturday and proved that he is still in the hunt for the Formula E World Championship, taking the win in the inaugural Hydro-Quebec Montreal ePrix.
By winning the race, di Grassi is now six points ahead of season-long points leader Sebastien Buemi heading into the final race of the season.
Di Grassi entered the race with a 10-point deficit to Buemi, despite the Swiss driver missing the New York City ePrix weekend due to his World Endurance Championship commitments. However, he was able to secure Super Pole position for the race, taking a further three points out of Buemi’s lead as a result.
Meanwhile, Buemi suffered a massive crash in qualifying, requiring his Renault e.Dams team to replace his battery and prompting a 10-place grid penalty. As a result, Buemi started the race from the 12th position.
On the start, di Grassi was able to hold off a charging Stephane Sarrazin in his Techeetah, as Buemi experienced an excruciatingly slow start, followed by contact with the two Amlin Andretti cars, which caused his right front wheel to be slightly skewed. He dropped to 16th by the end of the first lap, but after this setback, the Storming Swiss charged his way through the field.
At the end of the fifth revolution around the street circuit, di Grassi was leading, followed by Sarrazin, Felix Rosenqvist, Mitch Evans and Jean-Eric Vergne. Buemi had worked his way into the 13th position at that point.
At this time, Sarrazin had put a massive blocking move on the fast Rosenqvist at Turn 1, forcing the French driver to lock up his brakes. Meanwhile, Daniel Abt had broken into the top 10 after starting eleventh.
The complexion changed on lap 14, when Nick Heidfeld and Loic Duval collided with one another, prompting a Full Course Yellow. On the next lap, the entire field pitted, with the exception of Carroll, Duval and Jerome d’Ambrosio.
As Abt and Buemi entered the pits from 12th and 13th, Abt slowed in an effort to help his Abt Schaeffler Audi Sport teammate di Grassi extend his lead. Buemi became furious and tailgated the Audi all the way down pit lane.
Following their car switches, Buemi passed Abt, but then slowed at pit exit, causing Abt to run into the back of the Renault. Neither car suffered any damage.
Racing resumed on lap 17 with Buemi in the eighth position and di Grassi out front. Seven laps later, Argentina’s Jose Maria Lopez crashed heavily into the wall, forcing the Safety Car to come out again. This erased di Grassi’s massive lead over Vergne.
On the lap 28 restart, di Grassi used his Fan Boost to pull out an advantage on the rest of the field, while Prost moved aside to let his teammate Buemi into the top-five. A lap later, the wingman game came into full force, as Abt aggressively passed Prost, in an effort to relegate Buemi a position and help di Grassi.
But that charge was interrupted as Antonio Felix da Costa spun at Turn 1, bringing out a local yellow. After that, Felix Rosenqvist slammed into the outside wall from fourth, causing right-rear damage to his Mahindra machine.
Buemi was able to pass the ill-handling car, while Abt and the rest of the field could not pass the Mahindra.
The last two laps of the 35-lap event saw two major battles for first and second, between di Grassi and Vergne, and third and fourth between Sarrazin and Buemi.
While Vergne gave a valiant last minute charge to di Grassi, he had to settle for second in the end as Di Grassi held on for the victory. Sarrazin, Buemi and Abt rounded out the top-five.
Di Grassi heads into the final race of the season with a narrow six-point lead over Buemi.
The Formula E season three championship will decided on Sunday on the streets of Montreal.
Full race results can be viewed on the next page…