Di Grassi wins Putrajaya ePrix while the field goes crazy

If we can describe the Putrajaya ePrix with the simple sentence “This is madness!”, we wouldn’t be wrong, as the craziest FIA Formula E race in two seasons had everything to not let the spectator get out of the seat.

Right at the start, Sebastien Buemi proved to be the best driver in the Best car of the grid, and pulled away easily from the rest of the field, while Jacques Villeneuve retired while Jean-Eric Vergné had accident damage.

At this moment, Renault e.DAMS driver Nicolas Prost was in a mission to recover his natural place given the he had as he started fifth but crawled to third after overtaking Lucas di Grassi and Antônio Felix da Costa. Pressure was made to try a move into Loïc Duval, but without any success. At that point, things got into a strange route for Renault e.DAMS and for the race itself.

Both Renault e.DAMS cars went to the pit-stops, a while after Sebastien Buemi stopped on track due to electrical problems, and to prevent the same wouldn’t happen with Prost, the Frenchman was called too. Buemi got back to the track in his second car, but his race was doomed as he was in the middle of the table trying to make a recovery race.

Another problem that appeared for the Renault e.DAMS team was the choice of early stops, as both Buemi and Prost would need to make the energy last for 17 laps until the finish.

The intense Malaysian heat, allied with a lot of marbles and sand that were accumulating in the borders of the track made the streets of the Malaysian city look more like a FIA World Rally Championship stage than street circuit racing. Lots of cars gone sideways, including Nick Heidfeld, that could have caused some envy into some Formula Drift drivers after almost hitting the wall.

After the normal pit-stop round, da Costa got in front of di Grassi and Duval, but the charging Brazilian wouldn't take that much time to appear in full form into the Portuguese driver's mirrors, doing a beautiful inside overtake for the second place. After that, di Grassi started to chase a Nico Prost in economy mode, and the home straight was the place for the ABT Audi driver to take the lead of the ePrix. Felix da Costa overtook Prost too, and Duval was right behind and ready to make a move.

Now it's when the real fun starts. Out of nowhere, Felix da Costa has problems with his Team Aguri machine, stopping randomly in the track, seeing his chances for a podium just go away. Then, Duval gets the second place from Prost, and a while after his Dragon Racing team mate Jerome D'Ambrosio takes the third place and Andretti's Robin Frijns goes to fourth.

With three laps to go, the race became a total lottery for the podium. Firstly, Duval hits the wall with his right left corner and starts to go slow on track, and when Robin Frijns tried a move into the Frenchman, he his the wall before the hairpin in pure Bruno Senna-style, getting some damage but becoming fourth, as Sam Bird took all this mess to become third.

A bit after, going into the final lap, D'Ambrosio's enthusiasm goes a bit overboard and he hits the wall, stopping a few seconds later, promoting Sam Bird and Robin Frijns to second and third. Way ahead of the raising hell, di Grassi just cruises to win his first race in the season, while Bird finished second and Frijns, with a bent suspension, completes the podium.

With the eventful Putrajaya ePrix, Lucas di Grassi is now the championship leader with 45 points against 35 of Sebastien Buemi and 24 of Sam Bird. ABT Audi also leads in the teams championship, with 49 points against 36 of Renault e.DAMS, 27 of Mahindra, 24 of DS Virgin and 22 of Dragon Racing.

Next round will be only on December 19th, as the electrical single-seater championship crosses the world to come to South America, more specifically the city of Punta del Este, in Uruguay.

PHOTO: FIA Formula E