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Featured Formula E-Brief: Unstoppable Di Grassi wins inaugural Paris ePrix

Discussion in 'Formula E Championship' started by R.J. O'Connell, Apr 25, 2016.

  1. R.J. O'Connell

    R.J. O'Connell
    Commentator/Contributor Staff Premium Member

    2016 paris di grassi FEATURE.jpg
    The European leg of the 2015-16 FIA Formula E Championship began with the inaugural running of the Paris ePrix - the very first major championship race through the streets of the French capital. A familiar face graced the top of the podium on Saturday: Lucas di Grassi, the championship leader, who claimed his third victory of the season - and put his Abt Schaeffler Audi Sport squad over the top in the home race for rival teams DS Virgin Racing and Renault e.Dams.

    From the outside of the front row, Di Grassi pounced on a slow-starting polesitter Sam Bird into the very first corner, and subsequently sailed off into the distance, never to be challenged. Bird's slow start also allowed his teammate, Jean-Eric Vergne, to slip through into second place after the very first lap.

    The race began to heat up behind Di Grassi in the last laps of the race. Having run third for most of the race, Bird was desperate to defend his podium place from a hard-charging Sébastien Buemi. On lap 40, Bird went for a defensive lunge, but lost control off-line and ran off the circuit. A perfectly-executed spin turn allowed him to rejoin without much trouble, but it dropped Bird to a frustrating sixth and promoted Buemi to third, in chase of his fellow Toro Rosso alumnus Vergne.

    It was soon thereafter that the race was neutralized to the end with a Safety Car, caused by a hard crash for Formula E's newest talent, Qing Hua Ma of Team Aguri. For the first half of the race, the two-time WTCC race winner Ma was actually running well ahead of the likes of Nick Heidfeld, Mike Conway, and Simona de Silvestro. But the Chinese driver's race unraveled after an abhorrently slow pit stop, a subsequent spin, and finally ended with his hard crash in the wall. A crash that effectively ended the race with Di Grassi the victor crossing the line behind the BMW i8 safety car.

    2016 paris di grassi.jpg

    In total, Lucas di Grassi led 43 of the 45 laps in Paris to take the fourth win of his Formula E career, and his series-leading third race win of the 2015-16 season. Di Grassi said after taking the historic victory:

    "The fans, the atmosphere, the location – all in all this race in Paris was the best Formula E event so far. That makes me even prouder of our victory. It may well have looked easy from the outside, but it certainly wasn’t from inside the cockpit: in the low temperatures it was difficult to get the tires and brakes up to temperature – as we saw from the large number of mistakes and slides throughout the day. Now we come to the team’s home race in Berlin as leaders. I know what this means for all the team members, partners, fans and the media."

    And while Buemi moved up from eighth on the grid to finish third and keep his championship rival honest, the win for Di Grassi stretched the Brazilian's championship lead to eleven points. It must be restated that early in the season, the expectation was for Buemi and Renault e.Dams to steamroll the field all season. But Buemi has sometimes crumpled under pressure, namely at the previous round in Long Beach, while Di Grassi has remained steady and smooth - to be expected of a driver who now has twelve podiums from eighteen Formula E races.

    It's also put Renault e.Dams only eight points ahead of Abt for the lead in the Teams' Championship with four races left.

    2016 paris vergne.jpg

    A string of frustrating luck and rotten results has left Vergne languishing for most of the 2015-16 season, but his second-place finish was a breakthrough result - the former Toro Rosso F1 driver leading home a strong French contingent, with Nicolas Prost finishing in fourth, and Stéphane Sarrazin finishing fifth. Colour commentator Dario Franchitti commented that this was the best race that Vergne has ever had in his Formula E career, which would be hard to dispute: In one race, Vergne quadrupled his points total for all of the 2015-16 season! A well-earned result for a true standout talent of Formula E. And for DS Automobiles, a victory for them and the Citroën group over their rivals at Renault.

    Completing the points behind sixth-placed Bird, Amlin Andretti rookie Robin Frijns returned to the points, finishing seventh, just before jetting off to Monza for a thrilling Blancpain GT Series race the next day in Monza, Italy. Antonio Felix da Costa brought the second Gulf Aguri car home in the points in eighth - but a clash with the DTM series will rule him out for the next round. Bruno Senna and Daniel Abt ran conservative opening stints and finished ninth and tenth, but as has been the case for much of their time as teammates, Abt was once again little match for his teammate Di Grassi at the front.

    It was an uncharacteristically poor race for Dragon Racing, who saw neither of their cars score points as Loïc Duval retired after just a handful of laps - before he could even learn that he'd won an ultimately useless FanBoost. And even after their best qualifying effort as a team, NEXTEV TCR continued to disappoint - Oliver Turvey finished thirteenth after spending most of the race in the top ten, while defending series champion Nelson Piquet, Jr. had to switch cars too early to make it to the finish.

    2016 paris invalides.jpg

    The inaugural Paris ePrix drew a strong crowd to the circuit that passes Les Invalides, and the nature of the circuit combined with the cold weather allowed for the drivers to push a bit more than normal.

    Next, on the 21st of May, the Berlin ePrix - relocated from Tempelhof Airport to the city centre. Di Grassi has unfinished business in Germany himself; he dominated last year's running, only to be disqualified and effectively taken out of championship contention thereafter. For his championship rival Buemi, it is becoming far more of a "must-win" race for the Swiss driver to avoid losing touch with the Brazilian.

    Official Results after 45 laps
    1st - Lucas di Grassi [BRA] - Abt Schaeffler Audi Sport - 52:40.324s

    2nd - Jean-Eric Vergne [FRA] - DS Virgin Racing - +0.853s
    3rd - Sébastien Buemi [SUI] - Renault e.Dams - +1.616s
    4th - Nicolas Prost [FRA] - Renault e.Dams - +2.142s
    5th - Stéphane Sarrazin [FRA] - Venturi Grand Prix - +3.044s
    6th - Sam Bird [GBR] - DS Virgin Racing - +3.856s [PP]
    7th - Robin Frijns [NED] - Amlin Andretti - +5.141s
    8th - Antonio Felix da Costa [POR] - Team Aguri - +7.000s
    9th - Bruno Senna [BRA] - Mahindra Racing - +8.433s
    10th - Daniel Abt [GER] - Abt Schaeffler Audi Sport - +9.479s
    11th - Jérôme D'Ambrosio [BEL] - Dragon Racing - +10.738s
    12th - Nick Heidfeld [GER] - Mahindra Racing - +12.453s [FL]
    13th - Oliver Turvey [GBR] - NEXTEV TCR - +13.721s
    14th - Mike Conway [GBR] - Venturi Grand Prix - +14.833s
    15th - Simona de Silvestro [SUI] - Amlin Andretti - +16.049s

    Not Classified
    Nelson Piquet, Jr. [BRA] - NEXTEV TCR - 39 laps
    Qing Hua Ma [CHN] - Team Aguri - 38 laps
    Loïc Duval [FRA] - Dragon Racing - 4 laps

    Image Credits: FIA Formula E / LAT Photographic
    Last edited by a moderator: Apr 26, 2016
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  2. Quick question for anybody in North America: How do you watch Formula E? I know last year or 2014 it used to be broadcast on Fox or something, but I am curious to see how the racing progressed. Also incredibly surprised with the Di Grassi "domination" that I keep reading about, and would definitely like to see how it actually pans out. Quite glad to see JEV doing well, too :).
  3. BoogerMac

    Premium Member

    All the Formula E races are shown live on Fox Sports 1. As an American, its hard for us to watch a lot of racing live due to the time difference; however, to the network's and racing organization's credit, racing is more available to Americans than ever now. Everything from Formula E to DTM is shown on live on one network or another. Again, the time difference is the biggest issue...but that's why we have DVRs to record things :).
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