It turned out to be a big French party, when Round 8 of the ABB FIA Formula E Championship was run on the streets in Paris.
Jean-Eric Vergne was leading the Championship prior to this round, and with him taking Pole Position, he extended the lead even more to Sam Bird, who would start the race from P2. Andre Lotterer had almost just as much speed as his teammate Vergne, and drove the other Techeetah into third, ahead of Maro Engel and Antonio Felix da Costa.
Mitch Evans had to swap his gearbox, resulting in him getting 10 grid penalty. Since he only qualified 14th, he would start the race from dead last, with a 5-second penalty added on top of that.
Nelson Piquet Jr had a really bad morning. He crashed one of his cars in first free practice, going on to crash his second car in the second practice. So he missed out on the qualifying, since he made his mechanics work overtime. He did get ready for the race.
Mahindra Racing had another bad day. Felix Rosenqvist was starting the race in 11th, right in front of teammate Nick Heidfeld. They simply were too slow in the qualifying.
The race started at 16.04 local time.
Vergne made a good getaway, while Lotterer got a better start than Bird. Bird could stay on the inside, and squeeze in front again in Turn 1.
A Full Course Yellow had to be applied since Ma Qing Hua didn’t get off to a start. Later in the opening lap, Tom Blomqvist slammed into the rear of Nico Prost. Blomqvist himself was hit by Mitch Evans. Both Evans and Blomqvist pitted right away to get the cars repaired. Prost continued on the track, but without rear wing on his car.
Daniel Abt managed to overtake Jerome D’Ambrosio in the fight for 10th, while Felix Rosenqivst was all the way up to 9th.
Antonio Felix da Costa lost his good position, since his car came to a halt on the track. After resetting it, he managed to get going again – but in dead last position. He opted to pit, since the issues with his car was too big.
Jean-Eric Vergne was leading Sam Bird and Andre Lotterer, like there was a rope attached between the cars, leaving a small gap to Maro Engel, Lucas Di Grassi and Sebastien Buemi.
Sebastien Buemi, Daniel Abt and Lucas Di Grassi were the three drivers receiving Fan Boost, that they could use in the second half of the race.
Abt didn’t need any kind of Fan Boost, since he was able to overtake both Felix Rosenqvist and Jose Maria Lopez with his normal power usage.
Race Control decided to call Nico Prost into the pits due to the missing rear wing, after the accident damage earlier in the race. His mechanics quickly got a new one mounted, but he was running last anyway.
Abt continued his march towards the front, going past Oliver Turvey.
Sam Bird managed to close the gap to Jean-Eric Vergne, so he was almost pushing him around the track. Bird had Lotterer right on the back of him too, so it was Vergne driving slower than the guys behind. It was clear that Bird stressed Vergne out, since Bird had more power on his battery than the Frenchman.
Di Grassi and Buemi were really good at power management, and they almost 7 % more power than all the other cars around them. That made it possible for them to do one extra lap.
Most of the field headed into the pits after 24 of 49 laps for the car change. Only Di Grassi and Buemi did an extra lap, while Edoardo Mortara was able to do two extra laps.
The strategy really paid off for Di Grassi, who exited the pits in 4th, right in front of Maro Engel.
Sebastien Buemi didn’t get his radio connected during the car swap, so he was busy trying to plug in the lead from the helmet, so he could be in contact with his engineers once again.
Felix Rosenqvist outbraked Oliver Turvey going into Turn 1, but still wasn’t further up than P8.
While the three leading cars all had the same battery level, Di Grassi was able to push extra, since he had done the extra laps in his first car, giving him a 5 % advantage over the cars in front.
With 15 laps to go, we saw Lotterer being closer to Bird than Bird was to Vergne. Lotterer made a very late launch on Bird, and he managed to get past. Only a few turns later, Bird was overtaken only a few corners later by Di Grassi. That put Lotterer into the role of rear gunner for teammate Vergne, who would be able to cruise towards the victory.
Di Grassi didn’t agree in that plan, so he put Lotterer under a lot of pressure, resulting in Lotterer having to up his pace, so they actually got closer to Vergne.
Edoardo Mortara ended up in the wall with 8 laps to go. He was able to reverse and get out of there again. Mortara had a battle with D’Ambrosio towards the turn, where the two cars banged wheels several times during the braking, and then Mortara ran out of space.
Daniel Abt used his Fan Boost to pass Sebastien Buemi, in the fight for 6th.
Maro Engel had bridged the gap to Sam Bird, but he was under pressure from Daniel Abt himself.
Di Grassi was all the way on the side of Lotterer, but the German still managed to deny his former Audi teammate.
Jean-Eric Vergne won a beautifully controlled race, but behind him there was mayhem. Lucas Di Grassi finished second, since Andre Lotterer ran out of power on the very final lap, with two corners to go. Lotterer’s car slowed so rapidly that Sam Bird hit the rear of the Techeetah car, ripping his own front wheel off. He was able to get the car over the finish line in third, ahead of Maro Engel and Sebastien Buemi while Andre Lotterer crossed the line in 6th with his rear wing missing.
Jean-Eric Vergne extended the lead in the ABB FIA Formula E Championship, while Sam Bird is still in second, ahead of Felix Rosenqvist, who is basically out of the Championship. Vergne has a 31 points lead over Bird, with a maximum possible score of 29 points per weekend, in case you grab the win, Pole Position and the fastest lap of the race. Rosenqvist is 61 points behind Vergne, with just 116 points left in the season. So Rosenqvist would have to hope for two retirements for Vergne, while Rosenqvist would have to earn the maximum score – and then he would still be behind.
Techeetah has a bigger lead in the Teams Championship over DS Virgin Racing, while Audi Sport Abt Schaeffler has moved into third, after having both cars in the points today.
The next round of the ABB FIA Formula E Championship will be run in Berlin on 19 May, on the old Tempelhof airport.