Chaotic Formula E race in China

The 6th round of ABB FIA Formula E Championship 2018/19 was run in the Chinese city of Sanya, and that gave another twist in the championship.

Oliver Rowland from the Nissan eDAMS team had secured Pole Position, ahead of the defending Champion Jean-Eric Vergne in DS Techeetah, Antonio Felix da Costa in BMW i Andretti Motorsport, while Daniel Abt in Audi Sport Abt Schaeffler started the race from P4.

Alexander Sims in BMW i Andretti Motorsport wasn’t able to participate in the super pole, even though he were amongst the 6 fastest driver in the qualifying. The Brit wasn’t able to get the car going, when he was supposed to head out of the super pole lap.

Sebastien Buemi in Nissan eDAMS made a mistake and hit the wall during his flying lap in the super pole. That didn’t make a huge difference, since he ended up getting disqualified from the super pole part, since the scrutineers found a technical issue with the car – but he was still allowed to keep his qualifying lap time, giving him P6.

Championship leader Sam Bird in Envision Virgin Racing had a bad qualifying, and had to start the race from P16, while number to in the championship, Jerome D’Ambrosio in Mahindra Racing started eighth.

Buemi was one of the big losers, since he wasn’t part of the starting grid, but had to start the race from the pit lane, due to some technical issues with the car.

Oliver Rowland
Photo: ABB FIA Formula E

Rowland made a great getaway, where there was a bit of issues in the midfield, where there were quite a bit of pushing and showing, but no major damage to any of the cars.

Felipe Nasr didn’t make it away from his grid slot, resulting in a Full Course Yellow, since they had to send out some marshals to help get him going.

There was further drama, when Sam Bird retired on the first lap.

Stoffel Vandoorne didn’t get to do much of the race either, since he also retired shortly into the race. The stewards looked at an episode between Bird an Vandoorne, since there had been some contact between those two. But that wasn’t the highest priority for them, since both had retired anyway, so they would rather put their focus on the race unfolding. The TV pictures later showed some accordion effect in the midfield, where Bird hit the rear of Jose Maria Lopez, with Vandoorne then hitting Bird.

Felipe Nasr
Photo: ABB FIA Formula E

Nelson Piquet Jr. and Buemi were the first two drivers to use the Attack Mode, and while Buemi advanced four spots, Piquet Jr only managed to gain a single spot.

Jose Maria Lopez had troubles with his car, and had to park it – thankfully behind a barrier so we avoided FCY.

Mitch Evans hit the rear of Oliver Turvey, and made a bit of a Bump and Run, as the Americans would describe it.

The day only went worse for HWA Racelab, since not only Vandoorne retired, but Gary Paffett also had to park his car on the track.

The 5 drivers receiving Fan Boost was Stoffel Vandoorne (retired), Sebastien Buemi, Antonio Felix da Costa, Daniel Abt and Lucas Di Grassi.

Halfway through the race we saw Jean-Eric Vergne dive past Oliver Rowland, when the latter seemed to have a bit of problems with the car. That made Antonio Felix da Costa run right behind Rowland, but didn’t make it past.

Gary Paffett
Photo: ABB FIA Formula E

Alexander Sims had to retire from the race, when he hit the concrete wall, and broke his rear suspension, after Andre Lotterer tried to overtake Sims, but Sims still tried to stick to the outside – but that didn’t work out for the young Brit.

Almost simultaneously we had Nelson Piquet Jr. hitting the wall, and breaking the front suspension on his Panasonic Jaguar Racing car – and had to park the car on the track.

That resulted in a Safety Car period, with both a BMW and a Jaguar parked on the track.

Race Control decided to stop the race, since they couldn’t get Sims’s car removed without getting a crane on the circuit. There was only 11 minutes left on the clock, so they wanted to see a race to the flag – depending on no further happenings on the track.

Antonio Felix da Costa
Photo: ABB FIA Formula E

The Red Flag gave the stewards the opportunity to start a lot of investigations in the race. Contact between Rowland and da Costa was looked at, plus the overtake between Sims and Lotterer.

The race got restarted with Vergne ahead of Rowland, da Costa, Abt, Lotterer, Frijns, Di Grassi, Mortara, D’Ambrosio and Buemi in top 10. Only 15 cars were left for the restart of the race.

All drivers except Frijns, Mortara, Tom Dillmann and Turvey took the Attack Mode on the warm up lap behind the Safety Car, so they all would be ready to fight when the green flag was shown. Frijns had already activated his twice, while Mortara and the two NIO drivers decided to save theirs for later deployment.

Jean-Eric Vergne was investigated for making a possible procedural error under the Safety Car. That later turned out to be a warning only for the Frenchman.

Lotterer dived past Abt with six minutes left of the race, and was thereby into P4. The stewards decided to look a bit on that move too.

There was contact between Mortara and Buemi in the midfield, but Buemi made it past. The stewards looked at that too.

Jean-Eric Vergne
Photo: ABB FIA Formula E

Robin Frijns and Lucas Di Grassi made contact on the penultimate lap, That resulted in a FCY, since the Audi of Di Grassi was parked in a run-off area.

The race was concluded under yellow flag with Jean-Eric Vergne leading over the line, ahead of Oliver Rowland and Antonio Felix da Costa.

There was a whole bunch of investigations after the race. The only drivers losing positions were Edoardo Mortara, who dropped out of the points since he hadn’t activated Attack Mode twice in the race – that send him from 10th to 13th place. Sebastien Buemi got a 10 seconds time penalty for a crash with Robin Frijns, which send the Swiss driver from P6 to P8.

There was quite a few fines handed out too, with Andre Lotterer got 2000 Euro fine due to speeding under Full Course Yellow. Daniel Abt only got 1000 Euro for the same thing (doing 68 kph vs 81 kph). Sebastien Buemi got a fine of 2000 Euro for having done 99 kph under FCY, while Lucas Di Grassi got the biggest fine of them all, for having left the car before being allowed by race control – a whooping 5000 Euros.

Lucas Di Grassi
Photo: ABB FIA Formula E

Let’s have a look at the championship standings now, after all those happenings.

Antonio Felix da Costa leads the Drivers Championship with one point from Jerome D’Ambrosio, who has seven points to Jean-Eric Vergne and Sam Bird, while Lucas Di Grassi and Edoardo Mortara are a further two points behind.

Envision Virgin Racing and Mahindra Racing are equals on point in the lead of the Teams Championship while Audi Sport Abt Schaeffler are just a single point behind, and DS Techeetah a further point behind.

So the chaotic ABB FIA Formula E Championship races really shakes up the standings.

The teams now have a three-week break, until they will race on 13 April in Rome.

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