Di Grassi wins wild Putrajaya race

Di Grassi wins wild Putrajaya race

Lucas di Grassi claimed victory for the Abt Audi Sport Formula E team in a frenzied Putrajaya ePrix that featured six leading drivers striking trouble.

Sunday, November 08, 2015 (11:57 am)
The first victim was Stephane Sarrazin, who had to start from the pitlane after his car failed to move from the initial grid formation.

Poleman Sebastien Buemi gradually extended a lead over Loic Duval when the race started but a safety car on lap five, caused by Oliver Turvey nosing his NEXTEV TCR 001 into the wall with a stuck throttle, eradicated the Renault e.dams driver’s 2.3-second advantage.

At the restart Buemi moved clear again with Duval initially focused on keeping Antonio Felix da Costa at bay, and Nicolas Prost and di Grassi also in this group.

An undercut on lap nine, halfway to the car-swap stage, allowed Prost to take third from da Costa and within a lap he was harrying the Dragon Racing car of Duval for second.

Duval then started to cut into Buemi’s 2.5s lead and took first place when the Beijing victor stopped on track shortly before mid-distance.

Renault brought Prost into the pits immediately because the Frenchman was suffering with a temperature problem, while Buemi got going again reasonably quickly, meaning both were able to rejoin effectively in points-paying positions.

A slow pitstop for Duval just after half-distance allowed da Costa to jump ahead, and di Grassi moved past as well.

Prost’s early stop briefly elevated him into the lead, but the two Renault drivers were engaging in significant energy-saving measures.

That meant when di Grassi took second from da Costa, who allowed the Abt driver past with little defence, the Brazilian caught Prost very quickly.

Within three laps a five-second lead turned into a four-car fight for first, and di Grassi breezed past into Turn 1 with 10 laps remaining.

Da Costa slipped by Prost at Turn 7 a lap later but the Portuguese driver, driving a superb race in the season-one specification Team Aguri Spark SRT_01E, was robbed of a
likely podium when a suspected electronics failure slowed him.

This promoted Prost to second, but only briefly as Duval took the place at Turn 7 – and with five laps to go the second Dragon car of Jerome d’Ambrosio stripped Prost of third.

Two laps later Duval ran straight on at Turn 1 while 3.3s behind di Grassi, and slowed after a suspected broken damper, which allowed d’Ambrosio to take second.

Robin Frijns, assuming the role of top season-one technology runner in his Andretti entry, briefly took third – then had a massive moment at Turn 9, where the track had been breaking apart from one-third distance.

He slapped the right-rear of the car into the wall, allowing Sam Bird (who started 14th) to pass both him and Duval and move into third when Duval finally crawled to a halt with the damage exiting the hairpin.

Frijns ploughed on with a crabbing car, safe in fourth with the very slow Buemi somehow fifth as he managed a significant energy deficit, before a further stoppage dropped the polesitter to 12th. Team-mate Prost was 10th after a late trip into the wall.

Bad luck accounted for the final protagonist, d’Ambrosio, in final-lap accident that stripped him of an easy second place.

The Belgian ran wide exiting Turn 7 after suffering what is thought to be the same issue as Duval, causing d’Ambrosio to hit the wall and brake the left-rear, and he skated along the opposite barrier and into retirement.

Di Grassi duly claimed an easy win to assume the championship lead, with Bird an incredulous second and Frijns somehow taking third.

The carnage allowed Sarrazin to come through to fourth despite ending the first lap a minute off the lead, while da Costa salvaged sixth behind Mahindra’s Bruno Senna.

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