Lucas Di Grassi won the Mexico City E-Prix after a chaotic final lap in which long-time race leader Pascal Wehrlein run out of energy just metres from the chequered flag, denying him his first FIA Formula E win.
It was Wehrlein who led from pole position as Oliver Rowland went from fourth to second with a terrific late-braking dive going into turn one, locking up his front left wheel at the same time.
Di Grassi would slot back into third position with Sebastien Buemi fourth, Antonio Felix Da Costa fifth and Felipe Massa sixth at the end of the first lap.
Further down the pack, Robin Frijns went up the inside of Jose Maria Lopez as they entered the stadium section on lap three to claim 14th place. Felipe Nasr spun in his first Formula E race after getting tagged by Oliver Turvey.
Nelson Piquet looked up the inside of Jean Eric-Vergne going into the sector three chicane, but Vergne moved over too much sending the Brazilian airborne and clattering into the BMW of Alexander Sims just as he was turning into the chicane, spinning him out.
A full course yellow was brought out which quickly turned into a red flag to clear the debris and recover the wrecked Jaguar of Piquet.
After around a 20-minute delay to proceedings, the safety car led the cars out of the pit-lane with Buemi, Massa, Edoardo Mortara, Andre Lotterer, Jerome D’Ambrosio, Vergne and Nasr all going for the attack mode. As it turned out, it was a lap too early with the safety car staying out an extra lap.
All other drivers in the field went for the attack mode the lap after, giving them an extra lap of added power at the restart giving them an added advantage.
Da Costa looked up the inside of Buemi at turn one to try and take fourth-place, but the Nissan driver defended well. Da Costa then tried again at turn three making contact with the Swiss driver damaging his suspension. Da Costa manged to continue in the race despite this.
Meanwhile, Daniel Abt went up the inside of Tom Dillmann at turn one to grab 16th place.
After getting caught up in the Piquet crash earlier on, Sims was battling his way back, going up the inside of Nasr through turn two to grab 18th.
Back at the front however, Wehrlein was looking comfortable setting the fastest lap of the race.
Championship leader Sam Bird was becoming increasingly frustrated stuck behind his Envision Virgin Racing teammate Frijns who in turn was getting held up by Lopez who was sitting in 13th.
Bird then had to start thinking about defending rather than attacking with Abt looking more and more aggressive. Meanwhile, Sims was continuing to move forward, going up the inside of Dillmann at turn one to grab 17th.
Frijns went for the attack mode to try and overtake Lopez, but it wasn’t needed as the Argentinean had to serve a drive-through penalty for speeding in the pit-lane.
With just over 20 minutes left, Frijns used his second attack mode to overtake Turvey and move up to 12th place.
Stoffel Vandoorne would then get a five second time penalty for using more fan boost than allowed.
Sitting in third, Di Grassi used his fan boost to launch an attack on Rowland going into turn one, with the Brit defending well. Di Grassi continued to apply pressure to the man in second.
Defending champion Vergne was hit by Mitch Evans in the stadium section and spun out, dropping down to 17th place – continuing on his dreadful luck that had followed him throughout the early stages of this season.
With just 15 minutes of the race left, Buemi closed the gap that the top three had pulled to make it a four-way fight. Just a lap later, Da Costa then joined in to make it a five-way fight for the lead of the race.
A little further back, Mortara used his second attack mode to overtake his Venturi teammate Massa and move up to sixth.
With around 12 minutes left, Da Costa activated his second attack mode.
Realising this, Buemi then activated his allowing Da Costa to look around the outside of him into turn seven.
Di Grassi then activated his second attack mode as the race entered its closing stages.
Lopez’s day went from bad to worse as he was handed a five second time penalty for crossing the pit-lane entry.
Rowland activated his second attack mode on the following lap which let Di Grassi through into second place after the Brazilian dived up the inside at turn seven.
Wehrlein activated his second attack mode allowing Di Grassi to close up to him, but Di Grassi couldn’t make a move stick whilst he still had his attack mode.
However, with just two minutes of racing left, Di Grassi was quicker than Wehrlein who was rapidly losing battery power.
Di Grassi looked around the outside at turn one with just three laps to go but Wehrlein held a defensive line.
With a lap to go third-placed Rowland used all his energy up, ending any hopes of a podium finish, eventually finishing way down in 20th.
With just a lap to go, Di Grassi went up the inside of Wehrlein at turn three but Wehrlein cut the chicane. Di Grassi closed back up but couldn’t make a move stick.
Coming out of the final corner however, Wehrlein ran out of energy completely allowing Di Grassi to sneak up the inside to win the Mexico City E-Prix in a thrilling finish to a dramatic and enthralling race.
Da Costa came home second whilst Mortara sneaked on to the podium in third.
From 19th on the grid, D’Ambrosio finished an amazing fourth followed home by Lotterer.
After getting a five second time penalty for cutting the chicane on the last lap, Wehrlein finished in sixth.
After starting last, Bird eventually finished in ninth with a fantastic drive.
Race winner Di Grassi said: “This is probably my best race in Formula E.
“I tried to put pressure on him (Wehrlein) to make him use energy, and then in the last corner he just slowed down and tried to close the door, so I crossed the line sideways. It was unbelievable.
“I think we did a fantastic job, we had a difficult start to the season but now we are back and we’re going to celebrate a lot tonight.”
Second placed Da Costa said: “To be honest we were so fast. I think we were the most efficient car out there.
“Buemi was struggling, we went a lap longer than him and had more pace than him so that’s a really good indication.
“It’s a shame Alex (Alexander Sims) got hit at the beginning, but we’ll build on from this so it’s all good.”
Third placed Edoardo Mortara said: “I don’t know where that came from actually on the last lap, but we had a pretty good race.
“The last three or four laps I could see that I was catching the people in front of me and I was just praying that they were not doing any mistakes and making any contact, because I had Jerome (D’Ambrosio) behind me and I didn’t want to lose that much time.
“P4 in Santiago and P3 here is good. We’re having better times now, we struggled so much last season and also in the first two weekend’s this season, but we knew improvements would start coming and it feels great now actually.”
FIA Formula E Mexico City E-Prix – Race Results (with thanks to www.crash.net)
- Lucas di GrassiBRA Audi Sport ABT Schaeffler 46 laps
2. Antonio Felix da Costa POR BMW i Andretti Motorsport + 0.436s
3. Edoardo Mortara SUI Venturi Formula E Team + 0.745s
4. Jerome d’Ambrosio BEL Mahindra Racing + 1.159s
5. Andre Lotterer BEL DS Techeetah + 1.785s
6. Pascal Wehrlein GER Mahindra Racing + 5.210s
7. Mitch Evans NZL Panasonic Jaguar Racing + 5.800s
8. Felipe Massa BRA Venturi Formula E Team + 8.084s
9. Sam Bird GBR Envision Virgin Racing + 8.356s
10. Daniel Abt GER Audi Sport ABT Schaeffler + 8.438s
11. Robin Frijns NED Envision Virgin Racing + 9.044s
12. Oliver Turvey GBR NIO Formula E Team + 11.252s
13. Jean-Eric Vergne FRA DS Techeetah + 19.153s
14. Alexander Sims GBR BMW i Andretti Motorsport + 20.471s
15. Tom Dillmann FRA NIO Formula E Team + 20.871s
16. Gary Paffett GBR HWA Racelab + 23.272s
17. Jose Maria Lopez ARG GEOX Dragon + 26.542s
18. Stoffel Vandoorne BEL HWA Racelab + 38.425s
19. Felipe Nasr BRA GEOX Dragon + 1 lap
20. Oliver Rowland GBR Nissan e.dams + 1 lap
21. Sebastien Buemi SUI Nissan e.dams + 1 lap
Ret. Nelson Piquet Jr. BRA Panasonic Jaguar Racing + 0.366s
Header image from Autosport
By Jordan Hollands.