D’Ambrosio and Mahindra Racing retake c’ship lead

ST Correspondent
Monday, 18 February 2019

Aside from the last lap, I’m happy with how today went and with my first pole position. We were fighting hard at the beginning, so we used more energy which made it harder to defend against di Grassi. I think we should’ve had second position without the penalty, but I’m looking forward to the next race.— Pascal Wehrlein

Pune: Mahindra Racing assumed the Formula E championship lead after the Mexico City ePrix, the fourth round of the electric racing championship as Belgian Jerome d’Ambrosio returned to the top of drivers’ standings with a confident fourth-place finish on Saturday.

Mahindra Racing’s second driver Pascal Wehrlein, who led from pole position, used too much energy after a re-start after the race was red-flagged within five minutes of the start when Brazilian Nelson Piquet Jr smashed in car.

That helped Lucas Di Grassi of Brazil to seize a last-gasp victory in a wild finish as when Wehrlein lost out on power defending on the last lap within metres of the finish line as the former champion sped past to win for Audi at the Hermanos Rodriguez circuit.

Wehrlein had led for most of the race ahead of Nissan e.dams driver Oliver Rowland, who jumped from fourth to second at the race’s first corner after Wehrlein had defended his lead from di Grassi off the line.

At the safety car restart, following a 30-minute suspension, Wehrlein, Rowland and di Grassi gapped Sebastien Buemi and da Costa by taking using their first attack mode on the last of two safety car laps, with Buemi among a number of drivers activating the system immediately after leaving the pits.

For the next 28 laps of what would become a 45-lap race, Wehrlein sustained the pressure from behind, with Buemi and da Costa only catching the leaders late on.

“I think it was my best Formula E race ever,” said Di Grassi, the fourth different winner in four races. “It was unbelievable. Wehrlein was very dodgy, closing the door and changing direction many times.

“I tried to put pressure on him, making him use energy and then in the last corner he just slowed down, tried to close the door and I crossed the line sideways.”

Wehrlein penalised
Wehrlein, one of several ex-Formula One drivers in the series, was handed a five-second penalty after the finish for cutting a turn on the final lap, dropping him from second to sixth.

That left Portuguese Antonio Felix Da Costa in second place for BMW Andretti and Swiss racer Edoardo Mortara third for Venturi.

D’Ambrosio finished fourth, from 19th on the grid, to take over at the top of the standings on 53 points, seven clear of Da Costa on 46 and Britain’s Sam Bird, the previous leader who dropped to third on 45.

Brazilian Felipe Massa, the former Ferrari and Williams F1 driver, scored his first points in Formula E with eighth place for Venturi, the Monaco-based team led by Britain’s Susie Wolff. Bird was ninth.

Mahindra lead the team standings with 83 points to Bird’s Virgin outfit on 73.

Drivers’ standings (Top 7)
1. Jérôme d’Ambrosio (Belgium, Mahindra Racing) 53 pts;
2. António Félix da Costa (Portugal, BMW Motorsport) 46;
3. Sam Bird (Britain, Virgin Racing) 45;
4. Lucas di Grassi (Brazil, Audi Sport) 34;
5. Pascal Wehrlein (Germany, Mahindra Racing) 30.
6. Andre Lotter (Germany, DS Techeetah) 29.
7. Robin Frijns (Netherlands, Envision Virgin Racing) 28.

Constructors’ standings (Top 5)
1. Mahindra Racing (Jérôme d’Ambrosio, Felix Rosenqvist/Pascal Wehrlein) 83 pts;
2. Virgin Racing (Sam Bird, Robin Frijns) 73;
3. BMW i Andretti Motorsport (António Félix da Costa, Alexander Sims) 64;
4. Techeetah Formula E Team (André Lotterer, Jean-Éric Vergne) 57;
5. Audi Sport (Lucas di Grassi, Daniel Abt) 56.

Race result
1. Lucas Di Grassi (Audi Sport, Brazil) 1:13:15.422; 
2. António Félix Da Costa (BMW Motorsport, Portugal) + 0.436;
3. Edoardo Mortara (Venturi, Switzerland) + 0.745; 
4. Jérôme D’Ambrosio (Mahindra Racing, Belgium) + 1.159; 
5. André Lotterer (Techeetah, Germany) + 1.785; 
6. Pascal Wehrlein (Mahindra Racing, Germany) + 5.210; 
7. Mitch Evans (Jaguar Racing, New Zealand) + 5.800; 
8. Felipe Massa (Venturi, Brazil) + 8.084.

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