Audi’s Daniel Abt experienced a complete rollercoaster of emotions on his 25th birthday. The German broke through to claim a maiden Formula E ePrix victory in the second race at Hong Kong, only to later be disqualified and the win handed to Mahindra’s Felix Rosenqvist.
Abt, whose family owns the team Audi provides manufacturer support to, has largely been an understudy to teammate Lucas di Grassi since the inception of the Formula E Championship.
This time he had done everything right. After being promoted to third on the grid thanks to grid penalties for Mitch Evans and Race 1 winner Sam Bird, Abt moved to second place on the opening lap when pole-sitter Rosenqvist had a clumsy half-spin at the Turn 1 hairpin and fell to tenth place.
Rosenqvist’s fellow front-row starter Edoardo Mortara inherited the lead of the race in just his second ever ePrix, gradually pulling clear of of Abt until the compulsory mid-race pit stops.
The Swiss driver kept his lead after the pit stops were complete, maintaining a three-second cushion over Abt as the lap counter wound down. With three laps to go, disaster struck when the Venturi driver spun at Turn 2.
The perennially unlucky Abt finally seemed to have some good fortune come his way, inheriting the lead of the race which he kept over the remaining laps to celebrate his first win in the Formula E Championship.
Or so he thought. After the champagne had been sprayed and the trophies handed out on the podium, there came the shock news that Abt had been disqualified. The FIA stewards ruled that “[its] security stickers (barcodes) on the inverter and MGU units did not correspond with those declared on the Technical Passport provided by the competitor Audi Sport ABT Schaeffler for the event”.
While the discrepancy afforded Abt no performance advantage whatsoever, rules are rules. The Audi team quickly served notice of its intention to appeal, but later reversed its decision.
Victory instead went to Rosenqvist, who fought his way back up the order after his Lap 1 indiscretion. A swift pit stop saw the Swede emerge in third place, which became second thanks to Mortara’s late-race spin.
A sheepish Mortara finished in second place, ruing the error that cost him a sensational victory on his debut weekend in the category.
Jaguar Racing’s Mitch Evans was promoted to third place, giving the outfit its first Formula E podium finish, ahead of Jean-Éric Vergne (Techeetah) and Race 1 winner Sam Bird.
Bird had started the race from thirteenth after a 10-place grid penalty, but steadily worked his way forwards to seventh place and that became sixth thanks to DS Virgin teammate Alex Lynn’s car running out of battery on the run to the finish line while running in fifth. The unlucky Briton was eventually classified ninth.
Oliver Turvey (NIO) was classified sixth, with Maro Engel (Venturi), Nicolas Prost (Renault e.dams), the aforementioned Lynn and Sébastien Buemi (Renault e.dams) completed the top ten finishers once the FIA’s final classification was released.
The last two seasons’ champions, Buemi and Lucas di Grassi, both looked to have point-less weekends. Buemi was originally classified eleventh after starting the race at the back of the grid, while di Grassi was a lowly 15th after his Audi temporarily stopped on track with a battery issue.
Abt’s disqualification awarded Bird a two-point lead over Vergne in the Drivers’ Championship standings, with 35 points to the Frenchman’s 33. Rosenqvist is placed third on 29 points, which includes four bonus points for his pole position and posting the fastest race lap among the top-ten finishers.
|2017 Formula E Hong Kong ePrix – Race 2 Final Classification (45 laps)|
|Pos||Driver||Team / Entry||Laps||Result||Pts|
|1.||Felix Rosenqvist||Mahindra Racing||45||50:05.084||29|
|2.||Edoardo Mortara||Venturi Formula E Team||45||+ 7.031||18|
|3.||Mitch Evans||Panasonic Jaguar Racing||45||+ 10.619||15|
|4.||Jean-Éric Vergne||Techeetah||45||+ 12.593||12|
|5.||Sam Bird||DS Virgin Racing||45||+ 12.879||10|
|6.||Oliver Turvey||NIO Formula E Team||45||+ 14.199||8|
|7.||Maro Engel||Venturi Formula E Team||45||+ 15.676||6|
|8.||Nicolas Prost||Renault e.Dams||45||+ 18.905||4|
|9.||Alex Lynn||DS Virgin Racing||45||+ 19.025||2|
|10.||Sébastien Buemi||Renault e.Dams||45||+ 22.139||1|
|11.||António Félix da Costa||MS&AD Andretti Formula E||45||+ 23.159|
|12.||Nelson Piquet Jr||Panasonic Jaguar Racing||45||+ 27.104|
|13.||André Lotterer||Techeetah||45||+ 28.591|
|14.||Lucas di Grassi||Audi Sport ABT Schaeffler||45||+ 39.137|
|15.||Jérôme d’Ambrosio||Dragon Racing||45||+ 55.187|
|16.||Nick Heidfeld||Mahindra Racing||44||1 lap behind|
|17.||Kamui Kobayashi||MS&AD Andretti Formula E||44||1 lap behind|
|18.||Neel Jani||Dragon Racing||44||1 lap behind|
|Not Classified||Team / Entry||Laps||Result|
|DNF.||Luca Filippi||NIO Formula E Team||36||Track Rod|
|DSQ.||Daniel Abt||Audi Sport ABT Schaeffler||Disqualified|
Bonus Championship Points:
- Three bonus points awarded to Felix Rosenqvist for claiming pole position
- One bonus point awarded to Felix Rosenqvist for posting the fastest race lap by a top-ten finisher. Lucas di Grassi posted the fastest overall lap of the race.
- Daniel Abt was disqualified after FIA stewards discovered the bar codes on his car’s inverter and motor-generator unit did not match those on its technical passport provided to Audi.
Images via FIA Formula E Championship