The ABB FIA Formula E Championship always delivers when it comes to surprising and changeable races.
Round 6 of the 2017/18 season continued to do so, like the previous five rounds this season also had, regarding action both on and off the track.
The qualifying was a chaotic one.
Nico Prost put his car on the wall on the flying lap, resulting him to start from last position of the race. His mechanics had to work overtime to get his car fixed for the race.
Nick Heidfeld put his car on the barrier on his flying lap, but fortunately it was only mildly damage to his Mahindra.
And the third incident was for Nelson Piquet Jr when he scraped the wall with his Jaguar, after attacking a curb a bit too hard.
Lucas di Grassi was the fastest of all in the Super Pole, followed by Alex Lynn, Mitch Evans, Oliver Turvey and Jean-Eric Vergne. But that all changed after the qualifying.
There was a bollard in one of the chicanes which the drivers wasn’t allowed to touch. But di Grassi, Alex Lynn and Oliver Turvey all did so, and therefore lost their times. Mitch Evans had a wrong weight distribution in his car according to the regulations, so all his times from both qualifying and Super Pole were cancelled, and he had to start the race from the back.
So even though Vergne was the slowest of the five, he ended up on Pole Position ahead of Lucas di Grassi, Alex Lynn, Oliver Turvey and Daniel Abt. Luca Filippi had a three-place grid drop, since he had been speeding under red flag in the practice session. So after he qualified 13th, he had to start from 15th, when some of the other drivers had received penalties too.
Jose Maria Lopez lost his qualifying time because he ran too low tire pressures, and Tom Blomqvist had to go 10 spots back due to a gearbox chance on his car – just like Nico Prost, who also had to change the same component after his qualifying accident.
Prior to the actual green flag in the race, the stewards had already handed out 17 penalties to various drivers in the field.
One of the title candidates, Felix Rosenqvist was also in trouble, only starting in 12th position, while Sam Bird was starting 9th. So Jean-Eric Vergne had a nice advantage to his nearest title rivals before the start of the race.
Well, onto the race action.
Vergne made a good start, leading di Grassi and Lynn around the first lap. Felix Rosenqvist had got a bad start, dropping to 15th, before getting back up to 13th during the first lap.
Nick Heidfeld came to a stop on the second lap of the race. The electronics on his car was giving him troubles, so he couldn’t continue. The Safety Car had to be sent out to recover his car.
Several of the drivers didn’t notice the SC boards, so they kept overtaking each other. Fortunately it all got sorted out before the restart was made.
Andre Lotterer had a bad Lap 7, losing three positions in only a few corners.
Daniel Abt, Felix Rosenqvist and Sebastien Buemi were the three drivers receiving Fan Boost, that they would be able to use in the second half of the race.
Sebastien Buemi got issues with his car, when he scraped the barrier and broke his rear suspension. He had to change the car after only 12 of the 37 laps of the race.
Nelson Piquet Jr was also early into the pits, since he also had touched the wall.
Andre Lotterer had to make his car change on Lap 17, two laps before the majority of his competitors.
Lucas di Grassi had only been centimetres from the rear of Jean-Eric Vergne throughout the first half of the race, and when the two cars entered the pitlane for the car swap, the Brazilian was only millimetres way from the Frenchman – but the two eventually ended up leaving the pits in the same positions.
di Grassi instantly started attacking Vergne, and tried a risky outside overtaking manoeuvre, going into one of the chicanes. di Grassi only avoided the barrier by a few centimetres, and had to fall back in behind Vergne.
DS Virgin Racing drivers Alex Lynn and Sam Bird were close at hitting each other exciting the pits. Fortunately they didn’t collide.
Daniel Abt had to return to the pits when his safety harness had suddenly opened up. That was a potential podium position disappearing for the unlucky German.
Felix Rosenqvist had slowly but surely worked his way up the field, and was putting pressure on Lynn in the fight for 4th, while Mitch Evans was trying to steal 5th away from the Swede.
The duel between Vergne and di Grassi went on, and they were next to each other, several times during the final laps of the race.
Mitch Evans made a great overtaking manoeuvre on Alex Lynn in the fight for 4th. A job well done by the New Zealander, who had started 16th.
Three laps before the chequered flag, we saw an actual contact between di Grassi and Vergne, when the Brazilian really needed to get a move on, because he had Sam Bird all over him. The three drivers was racing like there was a tow rope between the cars.
But there weren’t any more changes happening, and Jean-Eric Vergne took the second win of the season, with Lucas di Grassi in second, and Sam Bird in third.
Jose Maria Lopez got the bonus point for doing the fastest lap amongst the top-10 drivers.
Jean-Eric Vergne extended his lead in the Drivers Championship by pulling another 18 points away from Felix Rosenqvist, while Vergne pulled 13 points away from Sam Bird. That leaves Vergne with a 30 point gap to second place, i.e. more than weekend worth of points.
Techeetah extended their lead in the Teams Championship too, so they now have 27 points to Mahindra Racing and a further 7 to DS Virgin Racing
The ABB FIA Formula E Championship now goes to Europe, where the 7th round of the Championship will be run on 14 April in Rome.