Just Electric

Vergne holds off di Grassi in Punta del Este thriller

Jean-Eric Vergne claimed victory in a closely-fought Punta del Este ePrix ahead of reigning champion Lucas di Grassi.

The two battled throughout the 37-lap race in Uruguay, with the gap rarely reaching above one second.

It allowed DS Virgin Racing’s Sam Bird to close in on the leading pair and battle for the win, although a late mistake put him two seconds back.

Techeetah’s Vergne made a great start off the line from pole position while di Grassi was able to hold second place despite a challenge from Alex Lynn.

Once the field had settled down after the opening lap, di Grassi set about catching Vergne for the lead of the race.

There was an early safety car, on Lap 5, to remove Nick Heidfeld’s stranded Mahindra although it was only out for one lap.

Vergne and di Grassi then resumed battle once racing resumed and started to pull out a gap to Lynn, running in third place in the early stages of the race.

As the pit stops approached, di Grassi again closed in on Vergne on the race track. Vergne was able to keep his position after the pit stops as di Grassi was held in the garage to allow Vergne pass – it was to avoid a potential unsafe release.

Meanwhile, Lynn was struggling with energy management and Audi’s Daniel Abt was able to pass him on the entry to the pit lane.

And it got worse for Lynn as team-mate Bird was able to jump him in the pit stops, the pair exiting the garage side-by-side.

Abt had to make a second stop a lap later to fix his seatbelts, allowing Bird to claim another place and move him into third place.

Abt was placed under investigation after the second pit stop.

The top three remained in place throughout the race, although di Grassi attempted moves throughout the second half of the race, including on the final lap at the final chicane.

Jaguar’s Mitch Evans, who started in 16th, worked his way through the field to finish just four seconds off Vergne.

Evans had originally qualified in third place but was disqualified from qualifying for a weight issue on his car. It meant he started in 16th place.

His rise through the field included a pass on Lynn in the almost flat-out Turn 13, putting Lynn onto the marbles and allowing Evans through. Lynn was able to keep control of the car.

Mahindra’s Felix Rosenqvist finished in fifth after a comeback drive of his own, working his way through the field from 12th place.

Lynn finished in sixth, with NIO’s Oliver Turvey finishing seventh ahead of Dragon Racing’s Jose Maria Lopez.

Lopez also claimed the fastest lap of the race, picking up one bonus point.

Jerome d’Ambrosio was ninth with Maro Engel rounding out the top 10.

Andretti’s Antonio Felix da Costa finished 11th, ahead of Andre Lotterer, Luca Filippi, Daniel Abt and Nico Prost.

Da Costa’s Andretti team-mate, Tom Blomqvist, was 16th with Edoardo Mortara in 17th.

Sebastien Buemi, Nelson Piquet and Nick Heidfeld were all not classified.

1Jean-EricVERGNE37 laps
2LucasDI GRASSI0.447
8José MariaLOPEZ12.612
11Antonio FelixDA COSTA27.335
17EdoardoMORTARA1 lap
NCSébastienBUEMI7 laps
NCNelsonPIQUET11 laps

Jack Amey

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