Formula E-Brief: Di Grassi DQed, D'Ambrosio edges Buemi in Mexico

Discussion in 'Motorsports' started by R.J. O'Connell, Mar 14, 2016.

  1. R.J. O'Connell

    R.J. O'Connell

    For this installment of the Formula E-Brief, we were completely prepared to deliver a great report of Lucas di Grassi's masterful drive to victory in the inaugural running of the Mexico City ePrix, and talk at length about the white-hot battle for second place between Jérôme D'Ambrosio and Sébastien Buemi that exploded behind him.

    Right. About that...

    Saturday's race could have been a crucial turning point in the championship in favour of the Brazilian ace of Abt Schaeffler Audi Sport. Starting from third on the grid, Di Grassi made his key moves in the middle stages of the race. He got out ahead of Buemi in the mid-race pit stops - despite nearly falling on his face when exiting his first car. On lap 24, he used the power of his FanBoost to help him pull off an aggressive overtake on polesitter D'Ambrosio for the lead of the race, which he would not relent as he left Buemi and D'Ambrosio in the dust to battle for second.


    It was the perfect result for Lucas di Grassi, in front of a near-capacity crowd in "La Ciudad". But it was completely for naught. Four hours after the race ended, Di Grassi was stripped of his victory, and excluded from the official results. The car he used in the first stint was just under two kilograms underweight, and in motorsport, there's zero tolerance for a car that's too light to race. Wary of potential future penalties, the Abt team elected not to appeal the disqualification.

    Jérôme D'Ambrosio was declared the winner.

    "Lucas did a fantastic race today and deserves the win. All we can do right now is to deeply apologize," said team principal Hans-Jürgen Abt following the stewards' decision.

    No, what you're seeing is not a recycled post-race report from last season, just a glorious case of "deja vu all over again". Last May, in the Berlin ePrix, Di Grassi drove to what we thought was a crucial second victory of the 2014-15 season, but a technical infringement saw him disqualified from the race, and the victory given to D'Ambrosio. It continues what is becoming a coincidental tradition of the Belgian driver benefiting from Di Grassi's bad breaks, going back to several years ago in Formula 1, when D'Ambrosio replaced Di Grassi at Marussia Virgin Racing.

    Di Grassi's exclusion also results in a major, major swing in the Drivers' Championship table. A win and a third-place finish for Buemi, as it stood in the unofficial results, would have given Di Grassi a six-point lead over Buemi going into the next race. Instead, Buemi now leads Di Grassi by 22 points going into Long Beach.

    It is by no means a fatal blow to Di Grassi's title ambitions, but given the deficit, and how powerful Buemi has looked in his two victories at Beijing and Punta del Este, and his drive from last to second in Buenos Aires, it could be too much to overcome - unless Buemi suffers a DNF somewhere in the back half of the season.


    Out of that, the battle between the winner D'Ambrosio and second-placed Buemi, a twenty-lap war wherein blocks were thrown, chicanes were cut, rear ends were slammed, and expletives were dropped on live TV in plain English (and presumably en Français), that saw both drivers sent to the stewards' office after the race, actually turned into the closest official margin of victory in Formula E history - as just 0.106 seconds separated D'Ambrosio from Buemi at the finish line. It made a case to be the single most heated battle for position in the young history of the Formula E championship.

    This was the second win for D'Ambrosio in Formula E, and his first from pole position. For Buemi, it's his fourth podium finish out of five races this year.

    Completing the podium was the second Renault e.DAMS of Nicolas Prost, who pipped the second Dragon car of Loïc Duval in fourth. Both drivers held their excellent results despite a late drive-thru penalty for Prost, and a post-race time penalty for Duval respectively.

    Robin Frijns continues his remarkable rookie year at Amlin Andretti with his smart drive from twelfth on the grid to fifth place, maintaining his 100% points-scoring rate. He finished ahead of his old Formula Renault 3.5 rival Sam Bird, the winner in Buenos Aires, who scrapped his way to sixth. Even after a minor shunt on the penultimate lap, Daniel Abt came home in seventh, with Nick Heidfeld eighth, Stéphane Sarrazin ninth, and Bruno Senna completing the points-paying positions in tenth.

    Sharing in the frustrations with drivers like Di Grassi were defending champion Nelson Piquet Jr., who started last following a huge crash on his first qualifying lap and finished out of the points - as did NEXTEV teammate Oliver Turvey.


    But no team effort was more deflating at the end than that of Team Aguri. They were expected to shine in Salvador Duran's homecoming, and they turned heads around the world of motorsport with the recent acquisition of Gulf as a major sponsor. Instead, Antonio Felix da Costa spent most of the race a lap down before crashing out on lap 33, and Duran could only finish 15th, the last car running on the lead lap.

    Formula E's trip through the Americas concludes in a relatively short three weeks' time at the historic streets of Long Beach, a venue soaked in forty years of motorsport history. It is the venue where Piquet began his run to the championship with a victory a year ago, and this year, another great chapter in Long Beach's racing legacy could be written.

    Though, as we learned in Mexico this Saturday, that chapter is, like any good written work, subject to major revision even after the chequered flag waves.

    Official Results:
    1st - Jérôme D'Ambrosio (BEL) - Dragon Racing - 48m28.409s (+PP)

    2nd - Sébastien Buemi (SUI) - Renault e.Dams - +0.106s
    3rd - Nicolas Prost (FRA) - Renault e.Dams - +25.537s (+FL)
    4th - Loïc Duval (FRA) - Dragon Racing - +26.358s
    5th - Robin Frijns (NED) - Amlin Andretti - +28.477s
    6th - Sam Bird (GBR) - DS Virgin Racing - +29.928s
    7th - Daniel Abt (GER) - Abt Schaeffler Audi Sport - +30.051s
    8th - Nick Heidfeld (GER) - Mahindra Racing - +36.373s
    9th - Stéphane Sarrazin (FRA) - Venturi Grand Prix - +37.291s
    10th - Bruno Senna (BRA) - Mahindra Racing -37.603s
    11th - Oliver Turvey (GBR) - NEXTEV TCR - +38.598s
    12th - Mike Conway (GBR) - Venturi Grand Prix - +38.790s
    13th - Nelson Piquet Jr. (BRA) - NEXTEV TCR - +42.351s
    14th - Simona de Silvestro (SUI) - Amlin Andretti - +43.971s
    15th - Salvador Duran (MEX) - Team Aguri - +1:03.082s
    16th - Jean-Eric Vergne (FRA) - DS Virgin Racing - +1 Lap

    Not Classified
    Antonio Felix da Costa (POR) - Team Aguri - 32 Laps
    Lucas di Grassi (BRA) - Abt Schaeffler Audi Sport - 43 Laps (DSQ)

    Image Credit: Formula E & LAT Photographic
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  2. the_sigman


    The track was bad. The stewards were bad in both the d' Ambrosio cutting incident and the Prost release. The fans were not so many.

    So one of the worst FE races to this day.
  3. InsaneOzzie


    These F-E cars may not sound like their bigger bro's in F1, but there heaps more competitive and entertaining to watch, I like it :).
    • Agree Agree x 2
  4. Brice.S.


    Finally, d'Ambrosio was right to fight so hard...
    But what a mess when Buemi tried to let pass d'Ambrosio, everyone cut...That was a total non-sense...
    So bad this formula is so few attractiv for teams (only 18 cars ?!)
  5. Andreas Knöpke

    Andreas Knöpke
    Let's drive side by side! Premium

    The worst sort of racing we've seen in a long time......
  6. 4 8 15 16 23 42 108

    4 8 15 16 23 42 108
    Only the 5th-most famous race driver from Kerpen

    As we didn't see GT3s? Or could you explain a little?
  7. svaty


    No one cares about track limits...
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