Jean-Eric Vergne scored his first victory of the season at the Formula E race in Sanya. In a sovereign race, he bravely beat Oliver Rowland, who finished second with his Nissan. BMW driver Antonio Felix da Costa completed the podium in third. With Andre Lotterer and Daniel Abt in positions 4 and 5. After an accident shortly before the end of the first Sanya E-Prix came to an end under Full Course Yellow.
Excitement arose just before the start because both Sebastien Buemi and Gary Paffett had to start from the pitlane. At the start, almost everything went smoothly. Pole-sitter Rowland made a very good start and stayed ahead. Daniel Abt was able to attack Antonio Felix da Costa, but remained behind. On the other hand, Felipe Nasr did not leave at the start, which is why the race director called Full-Course-Yellow. Nasr was able to launch his Dragon a little later, so after about five minutes, the race continued with green flags.
Then the first major event for the championship: Overall leader Sam Bird collided with Stoffel Vandoorne and had to retire early, no further points for the Briton. Also for HWA pilot Vandoorne, who crashed into the rear of Sam Bird with much speed, the race did not contineu. Above all, the two BMW drivers put pressure on their front men: Felix da Costa on Vergne, Sims on Abt. Together, the top 5 could distance themselves from Andre Lotterer and the rest of the field.
After just over five minutes, Nasr finally came to the pits and had to give up his race early. Meanwhile, the first drivers activated the Attack mode, including Felipe Massa, Buemi and Nelson Piquet jr. Lucas di Grassi, on the other hand, did not get the attack zone right and instead lost time, causing Audi team boss Allan McNish to frown.
Top group close together
Furthermore, the top 5 drove very close together, within two seconds. Rowland led the group largely sovereign. Farther back in the field, Mitch Evans slipped into the rear of Oliver Turvey, taking a position. The situation was not investigated. Meanwhile, Jose Maria Lopez also had problems with the second Dragon. As FANBOOST winner announced the formula E Lucas di Grassi, Sebastien Buemi, Antonio Felix da Costa, Daniel Abt and Stoffel Vandoorne.
After about 20 minutes, the leading group was slowing down the pace. This helped Lotterer, Robin Frijns and di Grassi catch up. The Brazilian missed the second time the attack zone and ventilated his frustration on the radio. Due to the unsuccessful activation, his backlog on Frijns grew to just under five seconds. The third time it finally worked out for the Brazilian. While Paffett also had to retire the second HWA car with problems, the race director announced to deal with Felix da Costa and his startup procedure.
Action, Accidents & Race end
Vergne made the decisive move against Rowland shortly before race half-time. Very late on the brake he stabbed in and took the lead in Sanya. Rowland then had to defend himself against Felix da Costa, who even rushed into the rear while braking and slightly damaged his nose. Subsequently, the Portuguese had to defend himself against Abt and took advantage of his FANBOOST. The other BMW driver had less luck: in the duel with Lotterer Sims hit the right rear wheel on the wall – the end of the race for Brit. The race director deployed the safety car on the track in order to salvage the BMW, which stopped just on the long bridge.
Shortly before, Piquet hit the wall again at the exit of a corner. The Brazilian driver broke the suspension of his Jaguar and had to retire from the race again. The air is getting thinner and thinner for the champion of the first Formula E season … Towards the end of the safety car phase, most of the top group drivers took on their Attack mode. Then, however, the race director surprisingly waved red flags as Alexander Sims car had come to a halt on the track. The third race crash in a row. Race director Scott Elkins radioed the drivers that the break would not last long, they should stay in the cars.
Di Grassi & Frijns crashed on the last lap.
With ten minutes remaining on the clock, Sanya continued under green flags. Since all the drivers of the top group drove in Attack mode, not much happened in the front. Behind them, di Grassi fought his way past Robin Frijns with power. Meanwhile, the race director announced that Vergne would be investigated because he might not have followed the safety-car procedure. His team-mate Lotterer overtook Abt and took fourth place. Also di Grassi tried in FANBOOST to pass Abt, but remained behind.
Just over three minutes before the end Rowland asked his team by radio if he should risk everything for the victory or not. The clear answer from Nissan: secure result. The Leading Vergne did not have too much to worry about. Without further incidents the time ran out – one lap to go.
In the last lap, there was a dramatic accident between di Grassi and Frijns. The Dutchman drove too fast into the hairpin and ran into di Grassi, both took substantial damage. Whether Frijns was pushed by Buemi, who was driving behind him, was not clear from the TV fotage. Di Grassi got out while Frijns continued and at least went back into the race. The race director decided on a Full-Course-Yellow, and so the race ended during a 50 km/h speed limit.
Reigning champion Jean-Eric Vergne secured his first win of the season in Sanya ahead of Oliver Rowland and Antonio Felix da Costa. Andre Lotterer and Daniel Abt finished on points 4 and 5. Impressive: Buemi, who had started from the pits, finished the race in sixth place.
- Photocredit: Formula E – Twitter
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