Lucas di Grassi has made history as the first winner of a Formula E e-prix, taking victory on the streets of Beijing, China.
The Audi Sport ABT driver was running third at the start of the final lap, however a coming together between Nicolas Prost and Nick Heidfeld – resulting in a terrifying crash for the German – allowed di Grassi through for the win with Andretti Autosport’s Franck Montagny finishing second. di Grassi’s team mate Daniel Abt was third over the line, however received a post-race penalty, promoting Virgin Racing’s Sam Bird to the final podium position.
Having only been announced as Andretti Autosport’s second driver on the evening before the event, Charles Pic finished an impressive fourth with Karun Chandhok in fifth.
Whilst recognising his good fortune to take the historic win, di Grassi praised his team for their efforts: “To win the race is like a dream come true. I was lucky to be in the right place at the right time. The team did a great job all through practice and qualifying, yes we made a few mistakes but overall I’m extremely happy to be the first ever winner of a Formula E race.”
Prior to the race, it was revealed that the first-ever recipients of the Formula E FanBoost would be di Grassi, Bruno Senna and Katherine Legge, each driver gaining an additional 90 horsepower boost for use at some point during the race.
Pole-sitter Prost held sway for the majority of the race, however an efficient car change pit stop enabled Heidfeld to move from fourth place to second, catching Prost in the final laps. As the pair approached the final left hand corner Heidfeld attempted a pass to the inside, only for Prost to change his line and move across on the Venturi driver with the ensuing contact causing Heidfeld’s Spark SRT_01E to slew sideways and launch over the apex kerb into a frightening roll, the car impacting the opposite tyre wall before coming to rest. Although shaken, Heidfeld was uninjured and able to exit the car unaided. The incident also damaged Prost’s steering, allowing the di Grassi-led chasing pack through.
Heidfeld, who confronted Prost about the incident post race, was thankful to have escaped unscathed: “I thought it was going to be a very big crash as well. Once I hit the kerb it felt like I was in the air forever. I closed my eyes and waited for the impact and then I thought ‘Oh that was lucky!’ I have a small pain in my calf but apart from that I’m perfectly fine.”
Prost was subsequently handed a 10-place grid penalty for the next ePrix in Malaysia, with the Stewards ruling that the Frenchman had clearly swerved into Heidfeld’s path to stop him claiming what would have been the German’s first race win since he won the Formula 3000 title in 1999.
After finishing third on the road, Daniel Abt was found to have exceeded the battery consumption during the race – having used 28.2kw compared to the series limit of 28kw – and was dropped to tenth place after his penalty. Katherine Legge and Jaime Alguersuari were found to be in breach of the same rule, and also received post race penalties. Legge’s team mate for the Beijing event, Takuma Sato, set the fastest lap of 1:45.101 late in the race after a lengthy stint in the pits to have a mechanical issue sorted.
Sébastien Buemi, considered by many to be a pre-event favourite based on testing form, retired from the race after 19 laps with a collapsed rear wing, while fellow ex-F1 racer Jarno Trulli retired early on with a terminal driveline issue. Senna retired on lap one with suspension damage: the Brazilian was squeezed between the Aguri Amlin cars of Legge and Sato, with the safety car being required while marshals recovered the stranded Mahindra driver’s car.
The second round of the inaugural FIA Formula E season will be held in Putrajaya, Malaysia on Saturday November 22. The break of over two months is due to the event being postponed at the request of the Malaysian Prime Minister’s office, and will give the teams time to regroup following a busy week in Beijing.
2014-15 Formula E Beijing e-Prix – Final Classification (25 laps):
|Driver||Team / Entry||Laps||Result|
|1.||Lucas di Grassi||Audi Sport ABT Formula E Team||25||+ 0.106|
|2.||Franck Montagny||Andretti Autosport Formula E Team||25||+ 2.867|
|3.||Sam Bird||Virgin Racing Formula E Team||25||+ 6.559|
|4.||Charles Pic||Andretti Autosport Formula E Team||25||+ 19.301|
|5.||Karun Chandhok||Mahindra Racing Formula E Team||25||+ 23.952|
|6.||Jérôme d’Ambrosio||Dragon Racing Formula E Team||25||+ 31.664|
|7.||Oriol Servia||Dragon Racing Formula E Team||25||+ 41.968|
|8.||Nelson Piquet Jr||China Racing Formula E Team||25||+ 43.896|
|9.||Stéphane Sarrazin||VENTURI Formula E Team||25||+ 43.975|
|10.||Daniel Abt*||Audi Sport ABT Formula E Team||25||+ 1:02.507|
|11.||Jaime Alguersuari*||Virgin Racing Formula E Team||25||+ 1:03.613|
|12.||Nicolas Prost||Team e.dams Renault||24||Collision|
|13.||Nick Heidfeld||VENTURI Formula E Team||24||Collision|
|14.||Katherine Legge*||Amlin Aguri||24||1 lap behind|
|15.||Michela Cerruti||Trulli Formula E Team||24||1 lap behind|
|16.||Ho-Pin Tung||China Racing Formula E Team||23||2 laps behind|
|NC.||Takuma Sato||Amlin Aguri||21||4 laps behind|
|DNF.||Sébastien Buemi||Team e.dams Renault||14||Rear Wing|
|DNF.||Jarno Trulli||Trulli Formula E Team||2||Mechanical|
|DNF.||Bruno Senna||Mahindra Racing Formula E Team||0||Collision|
|Takuma Sato||Amlin Aguri||21||1:45.101|
Image via FIA Formula E Championship Media