Formula E

Talk about leaving it to the last minute!

Lucas DiGrassi wins the Mexico E-Prix in the last final moments as he crosses the line just as race leader, Pascal Wehrlein, slows due to energy management issues.

There was absolute mayhem in Mexico today as things happened left, right and centre during round 4 of the ABB FIA Formula E championship. The race started pretty well with Oliver Rowland becoming the shining star and shooting up two places into 2nd ahead of DiGrassi. Unfortunately, Felipe Massa dropped 3 places down to 6th but everyone kept it clean and got through the first chicane without a hitch. It did not take long for things to start going downhill as Robin Frijns and Jose Maria Lopez collided when Lopez turned in as Frijns came over to cover him. Newcomer, Felipe Nasr also had a hiccup as Oliver Turvey gave him a little tap between turns 8 and 9, causing him to spin.

It would have been great to say that that was the only contact we saw throughout the Mexico E-Prix but, unfortunately, that was not the case. We saw a huge crash for Nelson Piquet who ended up being thrown airborne and into the wall at turn 16. Piquet tried to go to the inside of Jean Eric Vergne who then turned in himself, causing the two to collide, sending Piquet over the top and then hitting Alexander Sims who got caught up in the cross fire. Due to the nature of the incident, Piquet was told to stay in the car and a Red Flag was issue for the race. The race was suspended for 25 minutes until the Race Director could determine the correct running order of all the chaos earlier on.

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During the Red Flag, Team Director of Panasonic Jaguar Racing, James Barclay spoke to Pit Lane Commentator, Nicki Shields on how Piquet was doing, “He came on the radio quite quick early on to say he was alright, obviously a massive massive incident so looks like the cars held up well and we’re pleased he’s ok, a lucky one, he got away with that”. When asked what he think happened for the collision to take place, James had this to say, “I need to properly look back at the data but I think, it looks like Nelson was committed to going up the inside and JEV was closing the door and looked like he braked early because he’s in the inside line so he had a lot more of an acute angle, and the speed Nelson was carrying he couldn’t get out the way”.

Restarting the race behind the safety car meant the clock was restarted and we had 40 minutes and 30 seconds remaining. 7 drivers immediately took to Attack Mode but quickly realised this was a bad idea as the safety car stayed out a little longer and all the other drivers decided to use Attack Mode once the car had gone in, leaving the original 7 with a lot of work to do. The contact in this race continued as Sebastian Buemi and Antonio Felix Da Costa had a touch as Da Costa tried to get passed Buemi but it was not meant to be.

For Lopez, his day went from bad to worse after his earlier tap with Frijns, he finished the race with three penalties, each given for a different reason. Lopex was given a drive through penalty for overcharging during regen, he was then given a 10 second time penalty for speeding in the pit lane and then later on in the race, he was given a 5 second penalty for pit lane line crossing. Lopez was on for a good finish but due to all of the investigations, he finished in 15th place. Lopez was not the only one to receive a penalty, Stoffel Vandoorne’s luck continues to work against him as he was given a 5 second time penalty for using his fanboost too early than allowed.

The top five runners of Wehrlein, Rowland, DiGrassi, Buemi and Da Costa were going round nose to tail, giving us nail biting racing through a very messed up race. Rowland had managed exceptionally well to keep himself into 2nd place and decided it was time to fight for the win but as he went off the racing line to use Attack Mode, he locked up trying to regain his place, touching his teammate Buemi, leaving the door wide open for DiGrassi to step right in. DiGrassi was trying absolutely every single trick in the book but Wehrlein was having none of it and kept closing the door at every twist and turn. Fate, unfortunately, took over and due to the Red Flag earlier on, the energy on Wehrlein’s car dropped down to 1% on the final lap of the race. Wehrlein tried one more time to close the door on DiGrassi but by doing so, he lost his last percent and DiGrassi was able to take the win right at the racing line.

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Nissan E.Dams who were on place for a 3rd and 4th finish unfortunately lost their energy before the leader, Wehrlein at the time, had crossed the line to start the final lap so Rowland and Buemi, despite all their work during the race, got disqualified. Wehrlein may have only finished 6th after his energy management issues but he did take fastest lap of the race with a 1.01:112.

The Audi Sport garage erupted with joy as the realisation kicked in that DiGrassi had taken the win. DiGrassi was quick to come over the radio and he was put out of his misery and told he had won, to which he replied with shouts of elation that he had stolen the win at the final moment. Speaking to Nicki Sheilds after the race, DiGrassi explained his feelings, “I think today was my best Formula E race ever. Wehrlein was very dodgy, closing the door, changing direction many times so I tried to put pressure on him, make him use more energy then in the last corner, he just slowed down, tried to close the door and I crossed the line sideways, it’s just unbelievable”.

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Check back in with Overtake Motorsport for the next ABB FIA Formula E Race in Hong Kong on March 10th 2019.

Feature Image Credit: ABB FIA Formula E Website

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