Hot June with Techeetah Formula E Racing

Zurich E-Prix, June 9

Lucas di Grassi flew around Tempelhof Airport to secure a second successive Formula E win on home soil for Audi Sport ABT Schaeffler.

©Yanysh Lobzovskiy, 2018

Di Grassi drove to victory from third on the grid, moving up in the order in the early stages and holding on to record his 10th career victory in the ABB FIA Formula E Championship.

He made a clean getaway and stuck behind Stoffel Vandoorne in the opening laps before making his move up the inside of the turn six hairpin at the end of the long back straight.

©Yanysh Lobzovskiy, 2018

He mirrored the same maneuver a handful of laps later to take the lead from Sébastien Buemi. Di Grassi managed his energy and maintained the gap to Buemi, eventually crossing the line to pick up 25 points and an additional point for setting fastest lap.

©Yanysh Lobzovskiy, 2018

Buemi bolted out of the blocks from Julius Baer pole position but didn’t have the speed to keep di Grassi behind. Despite still not being able to convert pole into victory, second place marks Buemi’s first podium finish for Nissan e.dams this season.

©Yanysh Lobzovskiy, 2018

Reigning champion Jean-Eric Vergne continued his recent upturn in form to complete the podium positions. Vergne advanced through the field from eighth, pulling off a number of audacious lunges with late-braking into the popular overtaking spot at turn six.

The DS Techeetah driver remains at the top of the ABB FIA Formula E Championship standings and now leads the voestalpine European races with only one event remaining in Bern.

Antonio Felix da Costa, Vandoorne and Daniel Abt exchanged paint and positions on track in a hard-fought race for fourth, with Da Costa narrowly missing out on another podium place for BMW i Andretti Motorsport.

The British trio of Alexander Sims, Oliver Rowland and Sam Bird came home in seventh, eighth and ninth respectively ahead of Pascal Wehrlein in the final points-paying position.

“An amazing race for Audi,” di Grassi said. “It was a very strategic race with a lot of energy saving, and our cars seemed very efficient today, so I’m super happy. Before coming into this weekend, I thought that with practice being on a different day on a track which isn’t normally very used – so it’s dusty – that it would’ve been pretty much impossible to qualify here and be in this position. It just shows that you have to work hard and do the best we can. Surprises can come and this is a very nice surprise to me.”

New York City E-Prix, June 12 & 13

Newly crowned Formula E champion Jean-Eric Vergne took the race win Sunday in the New York ePrix, while a second and third place finish for Audi Sport Abt Schaeffler saw the German manufacturer clinch the teams’ championship title.

©Yanysh Lobzovskiy, 2018

After rain threatened to make this the first wet race in the ABB FIA Formula E Championship’s history, the drivers lined up on track for the last time in the Gen1 cars.

Moments after the lights went green, Techeetah’s Jean-Eric Vergne wasted no time in cutting to the front, jumping from third place into the lead.

©Yanysh Lobzovskiy, 2018

Just minutes into the race, Dragon’s José María López stopped on track, appearing to have broken his rear suspension. Only seconds later, farther up the grid, NIO Formula E Team’s Luca Filipi attempted to overtake MS&AD Andretti Formula E’s Antonio da Felix Costa, making contact with the Andretti car before drifting across and colliding with Jérôme d’Ambrosio and putting the second Dragon car out of action. With both Dragon cars out of the race, a good result for the all-American team was looking near impossible.

©Yanysh Lobzovskiy, 2018

Both Techeetahs were under investigation for jump starts. The FIA, motorsport’s governing body, ruled that André Lotterer had to serve a 10-second stop and go penalty. For recently crowned champion Vergne, no further action was taken.

With the cars running under a full-course yellow while Lopez’s stricken car was recovered, the racing restarted on lap 11. With Vergne out in front, Lotterer pulled into the pits to serve his penalty, dropping to 15th. With Lotterer temporarily out of the picture, Lucas di Grassi took Sébastien Buemi to move up into second.
After an investigation following the earlier collision between Antonio Felix da Costa, Luca Filippi and d’Ambrosio, da Costa received a 10-second stop and go penalty.

©Yanysh Lobzovskiy, 2018

On lap 20, Daniel Abt chased his teammate di Grassi, overtaking Buemi in the process to move up to second. With both Audis in the lead, another one-two for the German manufacturer looked well within reach.

With the cars coming in for Formula E’s last-ever car swap on laps 23 and 24, the top four drivers maintained their positions, with Vergne in lead, di Grassi in second, Abt in third and Buemi in fourth.

©Yanysh Lobzovskiy, 2018

Into the second half of the race, Lotterer loitered in 12th, struggling to make up for lost ground owing to his earlier penalty. With Vergne in the lead and Lotterer 11 places behind, Techeetah looked set to lose the lead it once had in the teams’ championship standings.

Buemi, determined to make the podium on his last race for Renault, blasted past Abt using his FANBOOST to take third on lap 26.

Up at the top, it was outgoing champion di Grassi versus the newly crowned champion Vergne as the two battled for the win in the Season 4 finale.

Farther down the pack, Mitch Evans had maintained his sixth place by lap 33, with Mahindra Racing’s Nick Heidfeld separating him from his teammate Nelson Piquet Jr. in eighth place.

©Yanysh Lobzovskiy, 2018

Working together, just as they said they would ahead of the race, both Jaguar drivers hunted Heidfeld, determined to finish a rocky season as close to the top of the standings as possible.

Back at the front, it was reminiscent of the battle for Punta del Este, as Vergne defended multiple attacks from di Grassi, the two fighting ferociously for the last win of the season.

Making contact with the back of Vergne’s car, di Grassi continued to push the Frenchman with fewer than five laps to go. Meanwhile, Vergne’s teammate Lottererer was working hard at the back of the pack to make up places and, crucially, points. Climbing up into 10th, the German driver moved up into points territory. On the attack once again, Lotterer passed Sam Bird on the back straight, climbing up into ninth.

©Yanysh Lobzovskiy, 2018

Approaching the final straight, both the Audis crossed the line in second and third behind race leader Vergne, clinching the team’s championship title by just two points after a rollercoaster season.

“We didn’t realize we had a chance until we got the first and second yesterday; it’s just amazing,” said Audi team principal Alan McNish.

Season 5 of the ABB FIA Formula E Championship starts on December 15 in Saudi Arabia.

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