Races can be decided in the first corner by having the best machine, but more of it can be by placing yourself to do the right move, as Lucas di Grassi did to win the Paris ePrix and distancing himself in the lead of the Formula E championship.
Green lights were on and Lucas di Grassi and Jean-Eric Vergné jump into a gap to pass Sam Bird, while a bit behind Sébastien Buemi does a good start to gain some positions.
On lap 6 positions seemed to be settled, except for Robin Frijns, who overtook Antônio Felix da Costa for the eighth place, while a mechanical problem made Loïc Duval call it a day and brought the first yellow flag of the ePrix. It took a bit more than a minute to get back to green when Buemi resumed his chase for better positions as he tried to find a way to pass Oliver Turvey, which he achieved in the only clear overtaking point of the street circuit in the end of the main straight. Turvey also lost position to Frijns, while da Costa and Nelson Piquet were lurking behind the Englishman.
Past the first third of racing, Buemi passed Stéphane Sarrazin for fifth place, starting now the chase for the leaders. DS Virgin and Renault e.DAMS had their cars at a close range, meaning a four-way French pursuit to di Grassi. And while the Brazilian was confortably in the lead, the four cars behind him had to deal with their team battles as Buemi passed Nicolas Prost and Bird was excessively forceful into Vergné’s car.
The pit stops did nothing to change the order of the race, and also did nothing to cool Bird’s desire to go past Vergné while Buemi took distance from Prost. With open way after getting out of Prost’s clutches, Buemi started the chase to the DS Virgin duo, with the Swiss driver getting gradually closer and closer even though Vergné and Bird were a bit settled. What was a second place battle became then the defense of the third place for Bird, a thing that he was succeeding even though Buemi was on Fan Boost mode.
Buemi tried to lure Bird by playing with some late brake moves on the inside line of turn 1, but it was when Buemi took the outside line that finally got his overtake, as on lap 40 Bird exaggerated in the brakes, the rear ones locked up and the Englishman went straight to the runoff area. Although he got back quickly, the podium was already lost for him, in the same fashion of the Long Beach ePrix.
Debuting in Formula E, Chinese driver Ma Qing Hua got overly sideways and crashed in the outside wall of the main straight, bringing the Safety Car on lap 41. It was expected that the last four laps could be a fortune changer for Vergné and even Buemi, the race director opted to end the race behind the Safety Car, saving di Grassi of a late fight and giving his third victory in the season, the second in a row.
With today’s results, di Grassi’s lead goes to eleven points, as he now has 126 against 115 from Buemi, in what seems to be a more than consolidated two-way battle for the drivers title, as Sam Bird is way behind in third, with 82 points. Between the teams we also go to a two-way fight as Renault e.DAMS still leads with 165 points against 158 from ABT Audi, while Dragon Racing comes in third with 112 points.
The Formula E action resumes in a month, as the Berlin ePrix will be held in May 21st in a different place than the Tempelhof Airport.