– Audi factory driver takes first victory of the season in Formula E race in Mexico
– Risky race strategy pays dividends for Lucas di Grassi
– Daniel Abt delivers strong fightback from 18th on the grid to finish seventh
Audi factory driver Lucas di Grassi reduces his deficit to championship leader Sébastien Buemi to five points following his first victory of the season in the fourth race of the Formula E season in Mexico City (Mexico). Team mate Daniel Abt scored points again after finishing seventh.
The fourth and only race of the season held on a permanent race track was the best advert for the purely electrically powered Formula racing series. Main man around the Autódromo Hermanos Rodríguez in Mexico City was Audi driver Lucas di Grassi. The Brazilian started from 15th on the grid, was an innocent victim in another competitor’s accident, had to pit after only two laps during the first safety car stage to change the rear wing which led to him dropping to last place at this stage. With an early pit stop on the 18th of 45 laps during the second safety car stage, the team took an immense risk. Di Grassi not only had to save plenty of energy in order to complete more than the normally planned half race distance, but he also had to hope that his pursuers lost time in many close wheel-to-wheel battles. The strategy paid off, after 45 laps di Grassi had an advantage of 1.966 seconds and the battery only two per cent energy remaining – which nevertheless sufficed for several celebratory donuts in front of the main grandstand.
For team mate Daniel Abt the race day started sensationally, the German claimed his second pole position in Formula E. However, he lost this again after tire pressures on his race car were found to be too low at scrutineering. Despite being penalized and moved to 18th on the grid, Abt produced a strong race, which was rewarded with six points for seventh place. In the team classification, ABT Schaeffler Audi Sport holds second place after four of the twelve races.
Formula E continues on May 13 in Monaco.
We are quite used to fightback drives from you, but was this the most spectacular so far? 15th on the grid, last after two laps and first at the checker?
Lucas di Grassi: “Before we talk about my performance, I have to say a big thank you to my team for this strategy – it was bloody good. When the safety car was deployed for the third time and I lost my advantage, I was briefly frustrated. Under normal circumstances we would have lost the race. But just like in Hong Kong: we never give up, we went to the limit on every lap. And in the end it paid off. A really fantastic win that will now be celebrated.”
What was the key to victory?
“What definitely helped me were the battles behind me. And that Jérôme D’Ambrosio kept the chasing pack busy. In the end this is what tipped the balance, but without the third safety car stage we would never have needed this support.”
How did you manage to drive five or six laps more with the energy available than your rivals?
“A lot of work and plenty of experience. After all I’ve been racing for a few years. In addition of course lots of hard work with the team, for example also simulations of such scenarios. We are very good at adapting to new circumstances. In Formula E you have to master this, because it is a one-day event. We look what happens and react – and in the end this is exactly what will be celebrated.”
Formula E now comes to Europe. The next round in Monaco is your home race …
“Yes, the finish line is 100 meters from front door. We will fight and see what we can do. As far as pure speed is concerned, Renault is perhaps a step ahead, but we are again in a better situation. We’ll work even harder and try to make very few or no mistakes.”