Formula E has never lacked action and the Paris ePrix was clear proof of that statement. Jean-Éric Vergne won his home race in a race that saw hard-fought battles from beginning to end.
Already in its third consecutive running, the Paris ePrix has become a signature race for Formula E. The fully-electric championship became the first top-level motorsport series to ever race on the streets of the French capital when the series was in its second season, and two years later, Paris has now established itself as a synonym for electric racing.
Leading the championship while racing on home soil obviously meant a lot for Jean-Éric Vergne, and it was even more special after the Frenchman qualified on Pole Position – his third of the season. Teammate André Lotterer qualified third; and DS Virgin Racing’s Sam Bird started the race in P2.
What was rather unexpected in qualifying, was the performances of Maro Engel and Antonio Felix da Costa. The German and the Portuguese qualified fourth and fifth, respectively; whereas last season’s championship contenders Lucas di Grassi and Sébastien Buemi started in P6 and P8, respectively.
Vergne had a clean start of the race, while the battle for second place commenced as early as in the first turn, with Lotterer and Bird almost crashing into each other. Di Grassi was able to gain up a number of positions, as da Costa dropped back to P7.
Ma Qing Hua could not start the race. More action happened at the back, as an incident between Evans, Prost, and Blomqvist meant the Kiwi and the Brit had to take their cars to the pits to be repaired, under Full Course Yellow.
With da Costa dropping back to the bottom of the standings, drivers like Buemi, López, Rosenqvist, and Turvey were able to benefit, and made up a number of positions.
Lucas di Grassi started a chase for fourth place, closely following Maro Engel, with a very small gap between the German and the Brazilian.
Issues affected da Costa’s car and cost the Portuguese to retire from the race with just seven laps into the race. He commented to Fox Sports that an issue with the brakes resulted in his retirement from the race.
Daniel Abt, who had a bad qualifying earlier on race day, was able to make up several positions, running ninth, despite being under investigation for overspeeding under Full Course Yellow.
The German could overtake on the inside Dragon Racing’s José María López, who was in P8 at that moment. Up next on his hunt for seventh place was Oliver Turvey, a driver looking to turn the tables after an unfortunate race in Rome.
The one-second difference between di Grassi and Buemi looked to be even bigger, considering the Brazilian’s searing pace, as he was charging up to pass Maro Engel’s Venturi car.
On the other side of the Audi garage, Daniel Abt was still pushing and making up more positions, as he was now P7, after overtaking Oliver Turvey.
Nico Prost had to take his car back to the pit, as his rear wing had to be changed, after the first lap collision with Tom Blomqvist’s MS&AD Andretti. Said incident was under investigation.
The gap between Vergne and Bird shortened, with the British driver pushing hard to overtake the Frenchman in a similar duel to the one occurred in this same circuit two years ago. Lotterer joined the fight, as he was fighting to pass Sam Bird. The German scored a Fastest Lap of 1:03.073.
Vergne encountered Tom Blomqvist in traffic, which was an advantage for Sam Bird to shorten the gap to the race leader. An attempt to pass Vergne on the inside nearly ended in a collision between Bird and Vergne.
The Top 3 drivers entered the pitlane together, and Vergne was the first one to exit. Bird came out second, whilst Lotterer left the pits in third place, after the mandatory car swap.
Di Grassi, Buemi, and Mortara were the drivers who stayed longer on track. Once both series champions entered the pits, Mortara ended up leading with a relatively bigger battery percentage that allowed him to make more laps.
The battle for fourth place saw di Grassi ahead of Engel, with Buemi remaining in P6. The Swiss had to fix a radio wire that was undone after changing cars, while driving through the Circuit des Invalides.
Rosenqvist venefited and could gain up some positions, running in P9 after the mandatory car swap.
After the race direction announced no further action would be taken on Daniel Abt’s investigation, the German was charging up to pass Buemi and move up to P6.
Felix Rosenqvist kept making up positions, as he had a clean overtake on NIO’s Oliver Turvey. The Swede moved up to P8. Mortara, running in P12, kissed the wall, but this incident did not make him lose any positions.
The gap between Bird and Lotterer reduced, with the three-time Le Mans winner fighting hard to pass the seven-time Formula E race winner. The German overtook Bird, but the pass was not clean, as both cars hit each other after the overtake. The incident was subsuquently after investigation.
Lotterer’s car’s rear wing was damaged, but the TECHEETAH driver was able to continue racing despite having some damage on his machine. Lucas di Grassi saw an advantage and made the best out of it, overtaking Bird, and finally making it to the Top 3.
It was a weekend to forget for MS&AD Andretti, as Antonio Felix da Costa retired in the early stages of the race, and teammate Tom Blomqvist also pulled back to the garages, meaning his race was over.
Another driver who had an unfortunate weekend, was Nelson Piquet Jr., who had a retirement, after a weekend which did not go his way since the early practice sessions in the morning.
Yellow flags were displayed, as Edoardo Mortara crashed into the barriers, after making contact with ‘Pechito’ López.
With six laps to go, di Grassi was pushing hard to overtake André Lotterer, in pursuit of P2. Over half a second gap separated both former Audi WEC drivers.
Abt was still charging up to the Top 5, and could overtake Sébastien Buemi. The Audi driver was now looking to overtake countryman Maro Engel.
The battle between Lotterer and di Grassi got more intense on the last lap. The Brazilian driver was able to pass the German, as Lotterer was on the edge of energy, and Lotterer dropped back to P6 with a broken rear wing as he was hit by Sam Bird, who ended the race with a twisted front wheel and against the wall in P3.
A spectacular weekend for Maro Engel, as he finished P4 – his best finish of the season. Sébastien Buemi finished fifth, followed by Lotterer. Abt – who displayed his immense overtaking skills – finished 7th ahead of Rosenqvist, who put in brilliant recovery drive to bag some points. Turvey and López completed the Top 10.
Heidfeld had a clean weekend but just missed the Top 10 by one position. d’Ambrosio, who had a good start of the race, finished in P12, followed by Mortara, Lynn, Evans, Prost, and Ma.
The podium – which has the same three drivers as in Punta del Este, and in the same positions – sees Vergne extending his lead, although Bird has scored valuable points, in his run for the championship fight.
Another masterclass from Formula E to show that electric racing is thoroughly competitive. The action will be back next May 19th in Berlin.
|17||Qing Hua||MA||3 Laps|
|NC||Antonio Felix||DA COSTA||47 laps|