A lights to flag victory was on the cards for Pascal Wehrlein until a disqualification granted victory to Audi’s Lucas Di Grassi in Puebla.
After a closely fought qualifying for the eighth round of the 2021 Formula E championship, all eyes turned to a race that looked set to be a classic.
Porsche’s Pascal Wehrlein started on pole for the second time in his career with the German eager to enter championship contention with a victory in Mexico. Find out below what happened when we went green in Puebla!
As the lights went out, Rowland struggled to get his car away from the line causing fourth place driver Vergne to make a dramatic weave to the dirty side of the track. As a result, Rowland fell back down to thirteenth and JEV lost significant time on his hunt for a podium.
However, for pole sitter Wehrlein the start was much simpler with the German driver immediately pulling away from the pack.
An opening lap safety car was soon deployed after Nick Cassidy made significant contact with the barriers and destroyed the front left of his car. The Mahindra of Alex Lynn also entered the pits under the safety car following a puncture.
SAFETY CAR RESTART
The safety car returned to the pits after roughly five minutes with Vergne having a poor restart allowing the top three to move away from the pack.
Lynn, Frijns and Vandoorne were amongst the first drivers to take their attack mode immediately after the Safety Car. And in an alternative strategy from the Envision team, Frijns quickly activated his second attack mode from outside the points.Meanwhile at the front, Wehrlein took attack mode from the lead of the race, rejoining in third ahead of Vergne.
Turn eleven proved contentious for the drivers with De Vries forced wide at the corner, losing the Dutchman significant time. Fellow championship leader Robin Frijns received a penalty for the incident, apologising to De Vries after the race. As a result of the incident, neither of the championship leaders scored significant points from round eight.
This incident was of no consequence however for race leader Pascal Wehrlein who by the halfway point of the race had established a comfortable gap of over three seconds. However, if the German thought this would be an easy victory, things were about to quickly turn cruel.
A TWIST IN THE TALE
Drama began to heighten following a collision between Alex Sims and Jean-Eric Vergne as Vergne rejoined the race after entering attack mode. For the Frenchman it was a completely unavoidable incident with the Techeetah in the blindspot of Sims’ Mahindra.
As a result of the contact, the Techeetah suffered significant damage and was forced to retire from the race. This retirement puts a significant dent in Vergne’s championship hopes with the Frenchman missing out on the chance of a podium or even a victory!
Racing action was temporarily halted after Sam Bird suffered heavy damage with the wall, deploying the safety car. This Incident was nearly identical to Vergne’s with Bird in the blindspot of the Mahindra of Alex Lynn.
The deployment of the Safety Car so late in the race, eliminated Wehrlein’s significant advantage.
With thirteen minutes remaining, the race resumed. Second place driver Max Gunther had a much better restart, managing to hold onto the race leader.
FINAL DASH TO VICTORY
Shortly after, the Stewards announced that Wehrlein was under investigation for a technical infraction. An update soon followed which also implicated Wehrlein’s teammate Lotterer and both Nissan drivers.
With drivers aware of the investigation, an intense battle for the remaining podium positions emerged with Dennis leading Gunther and Mortara with just over five minutes to go. However, strategy proved key with Dennis losing time taking his second attack mode and falling back to seventh.
Gunther also proved vulnerable, falling victim to an audacious overtake from both Mortara and Di Grassi. The Audi driver then set about seizing second place with his teammate Rast also securing a podium position at the expense of Mortara.
With less than a few moments of the race remaining, the biggest moment was yet to come.
Wehrlein crossed the line in first after a dominant victory but was immediately disqualified for a technical infraction, handing victory to Lucas Di Grassi. As a result, Rast was promoted to second and Mortara to third.
Expanding on the decision to disqualify both Porsche’s, the FIA explained that the team had failed to submit the correct tyre allocation before the start of the race. This decision prompted discussion about the fairness of FIA rules with Wehrlein furious at losing out on victory.
However, with great pace in the Porsche, Wehrlein has another chance of victory in Sunday’s race. Follow Overtake Motorsport for coverage of Round 9.
L. Di Grassi Audi Sport ABT Schaeffler
R. Rast Audi Sport ABT Schaeffler
E. Mortara ROKIT Venturi Racing
A. Sims Mahindra Racing
J. Dennis BMW I Andretti Motorsport
A. F. Da Costa DS Techeetah
S. Vandoorne Mercedes-EQ Formula E Team
M. Evans Jaguar Racing
N. De Vries Mercedes-EQ Formula E Team
A. Lynn Mahindra Racing
Featured Image Credit: @AudiSport on Twitter