Mitch Evans holds off Nick Cassidy to lead an all-Jaguar-powered podium in the inaugural Sao Paulo E-Prix.
Evans left it late in the race to sweep past Cassidy and into the race lead. Cassidy continued the fight back into the final lap, managing to get alongside Evans but didn’t have enough to get his nose ahead. The win was his first of the season.
Sam Bird recovered from a five-place grid penalty to finish third, locking out the podium for Jaguar.
It was an action-packed race throughout the 35 laps. The race dynamic changed every few laps or so, but Evans managed to weather it all to stay at the sharp end of the field throughout.
Stoffel Vandoorne controlled the race in the opening stint ahead of Antonio Felix Da Costa and Evans. Despite a strong start from the Jaguar driver, he couldn’t get past Evans but stuck with the leaders.
He managed to get up to P2, behind Vandoorne before the first safety car was brought out for Sacha Fenestraz, who stopped on track with an apparent technical issue.
Racing resumed on lap 12, but it was Da Costa who had the jump on the rest of the field. The advantage wouldn’t last long and soon it was another four-car battle for the race lead. This time, Cassidy managed to get ahead, with Da Costa second and Vandoorne third ahead of Evans when the safety car was brought out again.
Jake Dennis had come to a stop on track after a multi-car incident. The Andretti driver was hit from behind, then went on to make contact with title rival Pascal Wehrlein. Wehrlein was able to continue but Dennis had damaged suspension and was out of the race.
The battle for the lead resumed as soon as the track turned green. The lead changed hands a number of times as the leaders took Attack Mode, but it was Cassidy ahead of Evans when the race evened out. Da Costa had fallen back to seventh after a wide moment through the chicane. Vandoorne was still running third, but was more than a second behind the race leaders.
The situation at the front settled for a few laps, but the battle would soon be reignited as Sam Bird joined the fight. Bird had spent the race climbing up from 10th on the grid. He joined the back of a small train of drivers behind Vandoorne and quickly cut through the group. He made quick work of the gap Cassidy and Evans had pulled out. The work was made easier when Evans and Cassidy began to battle again, allowing Bird to real them in.
Evans swept past Cassidy as Bird joined the battle. Bird wasn’t quite close enough to follow him through.
In the final laps, Cassidy juggled defending and attacking, almost allowing Bird to get alongside at one point after a failed attempt on Evans. He managed to hold position and finished second, moving up to third in the championship standings.
Behind them, Da Costa recovered from his chicane moment to finish fourth ahead of Jean-Eric Vergne and Vandoorne.
It wasn’t only at the front of the field where the drama took place. Almost immediately, there was drama further back in the field when Norman Nato ran into the back of Jake Hughes, going slightly airborne in the process. Nato was forced to retire, while Hughes continued to finish eighth, behind Pascal Wehrlein.
Edoardo Mortara also had problems on the opening lap, but was able to continue. He was eventually knocked out of the race late on when contact with another driver sent him into the wall and forced a retirement.
The other Maserati also had bad luck. Maximillian Guenther had been running well before skipping the chicane. Unlike Da Costa, he did not stop before returning to the track, earning himself a five-second penalty, but he recovered to finish 11th, behind Rene Rast and Sebastien Buemi.
Wehrlein continues to lead the championship standings, extending his lead to the retired Dennis to 24 points.