Vergne defeats di Grassi to win Punta del Este ePrix

    Rosenqvist charges up to finish fifth after starting 12th on the grid for Mahindra Racing.

    Published On Mar 19, 2018 02:40:00 PM

    3,561 Views

    Vergne defeats di Grassi to win Punta del Este ePrix

    Techeetah’s Jean-Eric Vergne held off Lucas di Grassi in a tense race-long battle to win a thrilling Punta del Este ePrix.

    Vergne headed the lead pack throughout the race from pole, which he was handed just 30 minutes before the start when di Grassi was demoted to second following a long post-qualifying investigation for cutting a chicane during the superpole session. Sam Bird shot up the order to take third, ahead of the equally hard-charging Mitch Evans, who was also demoted from qualifying for a weight distribution issue that meant he lined up 16th.

    At the start, Vergne made a lightning getaway but could not escape di Grassi's clutches. Their nail-biting battle raged on either side of a safety car period caused by Nick Heidfeld, who stopped on-track due to a technical system error.

    The lead duo pitted on lap 19 of 37, with Vergne keeping the lead throughout the car swaps. Di Grassi mounted a major attack when approaching the final Turn 16/17 chicane on lap 21, but could only take to the outside and had to slow down to avoid hitting the wall.

    The reigning champion charged back up to Vergne, where he once again got stuck in. Vergne survived contact with di Grassi at the final corner, with three laps to run, and another clash at Turn 1 on the next lap. The French racer defended his lead until the finish, eventually winning by 0.447 seconds.

    The pair was joined later on by Bird, who had earlier made a rapid getaway from ninth. He passed Sebastien Buemi on the run to Turn 1 and battled his way pass Andre Lotterer in the early running, before emerging from the pits in fourth place. He ran side-by-side with DS Virgin team-mate Alex Lynn – another driver penalised for cutting the chicane in qualifying.

    Bird made it up to third – when Daniel Abt had to pit unexpectedly for a second time with what appeared to be a seatbelt problem – and was right with the lead two on the final lap before making a mistake and dropping further back by 2.1sec.

    Evans emerged on top of a spectacular late scrap with Felix Rosenqvist, who had also battled his way up the order to fifth.

    Lynn eventually finished sixth after running third during the early stages, with another early frontrunner – and the final driver demoted on the grid for a superpole incident – Oliver Turvey, who finished seventh.

    Dragon pair Jose Maria Lopez and Jerome D'Ambrosio ran an extra lap longer than most and rose to eighth and ninth from 18th and 10th, respectively. Maro Engel rounded out the top 10 for Venturi. Lotterer faded to 12th following a brush with the wall and Abt was eventually classified 14th.

    Alongside Heidfeld, Buemi and Nelson Piquet were the other non-finishers after making premature car-swaps. Buemi hit the wall at the high-speed Turn 13 right-hander on lap 10 and suffered left-rear damage as he chased Turvey and Abt, early on. Piquet picked up damage on the opening lap and had to switch cars due to a driveshaft problem.

    Result - 37 laps

    POS

    DRIVER

    TEAM

    CAR

    GAP

    1

    Jean-Eric Vergne

    Techeetah

    Renault

    50m43.809s

    2

    Lucas di Grassi

    Audi

    Audi

    0.447s

    3

    Sam Bird

    Virgin

    DS Virgin

    2.611s

    4

    Mitch Evans

    Jaguar

    Jaguar

    4.075s

    5

    Felix Rosenqvist

    Mahindra

    Mahindra

    4.224s

    6

    Alex Lynn

    Virgin

    DS Virgin

    7.672s

    7

    Oliver Turvey

    NIO

    NextEV NIO

    11.818s

    8

    Jose Maria Lopez

    Dragon

    Penske

    12.612s

    9

    Jerome d'Ambrosio

    Dragon

    Penske

    22.242s

    10

    Maro Engel

    Venturi

    Venturi

    26.293s

    11

    Antonio Felix da Costa

    Andretti

    Andretti

    27.335s

    12

    Andre Lotterer

    Techeetah

    Renault

    38.731s

    13

    Luca Filippi

    NIO

    NextEV NIO

    39.926s

    14

    Daniel Abt

    Audi

    Audi

    43.139s

    15

    Nicolas Prost

    e.dams

    Renault

    47.194s

    16

    Tom Blomqvist

    Andretti

    Andretti

    59.299s

    17

    Edoardo Mortara

    Venturi

    Venturi

    1 Lap

    -

    Sebastien Buemi

    e.dams

    Renault

    Retirement

    -

    Nelson Piquet Jr.

    Jaguar

    Jaguar

    Retirement

    -

    Nick Heidfeld

    Mahindra

    Mahindra

    Retirement

     

     

     

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