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Vergne wins chaotic Swiss E-Prix

Jean-Eric Vergne survived an opening lap pile-up, pressure from Mitch Evans and a last lap shower to claim victory from the Swiss E-Prix.

The Techeetah driver drastically extends his lead at the top of the championship standings, after a difficult qualifying for title rival Lucas Di Grassi left him with a lot of work to do.

Racing was halted before the first corner, when Sebastien Buemi made contact with Pascal Wehrelin at the first chicane. Wehrlein was spun sideways, causing a pile-up. Simultaneously, team-mate Jerome D’Ambrosio made contact with Robin Frijns further down the order, spinning Frins around and taking him out of the race.

While most of the field came to a stop, Di Grassi was one of a number of drivers who cut the chicane to avoid the carnage, moving him up to eighth as the red flag was thrown.

Much to Di Grassi’s frustration, the cars were returned to the grid order for the restart, making his opening lap improvements void.

When the race started proper, Evans was straight on Vergne’s tail. He tried to make a move under normal race pace, but Vergne didn’t put a wheel wrong and held onto the position. Twice over the course of the race, Evans activated Attack Mode aiming to squeeze past Vergne, but the Techeetah driver shut the door before he could make a move and activated Attack Mode himself the following lap to nullify Evans’ advantage.

Two minutes before the chequered flag, it began to rain heavily at the start of the circuit. A small mistake from Vergne allowed Evans, Sebastien Buemi, and Andre Lotterer to close onto the back of him, but he kept the position. Despite the pressure, Vergne held onto first to finish 0.160s ahead of Evans.

Buemi completed the podium ahead of Lotterer, who managed to pass Sam Bird late in the race when the Virgin driver made a small lock up.

After the opening lap incident, both Wehrlein and Maximilian Gunther, who started just behind the Mahindra, were able to continue in their original starting positions. Both tried to make good use of their second chance, but Wehrlein came to a stop on track with a mechanical issue 15 minutes after the race restarted, prompting a full course yellow.

Gunther managed to continue trouble-free, but fell down the order in the final 20 minutes of the race and finished sixth.

Daniel Abt took seventh, ahead of Alex Lynn, Felipe Massa, and Lucas Di Grassi.

Bethonie Waring

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