The 8th round of the Formula E championship was held last weekend in Paris and we saw another winner at the checkered flag. What a fight in this championship !
After shakedowns on Friday and the practice session of the Jaguar I-PACE eTROPHY support series, the main event was going to take place the day after.
On Saturday morning, the day started on a wet track with the first Formula E practice session of the weekend which saw André Lotterer taking the fastest lap in front of Sébastien Buemi and Oliver Rowland. The second practice session took place two hours later on a nearly dry track, with another top three : Mitch Evans, Oliver Rowland and Lucas Di Grassi. Between these two sessions, the Jaguar I-PACE eTROPHY qualifying session saw the front row locked by Sellers and Bueno, Rzadzinski behind.
Now it was the turn of the Formula E qualifying, starting just before midday. Pascal Wehrlein took the pole but soon both Mahindra Racing cars got disqualified of the session because of “non-respect of the minimum tyre pressure”. Eventually, the German driver started 22nd on the grid, just behind his team mate Jérôme D’Ambrosio. Oliver Rowland inherited the pole position in front of Sébastien Buemi and Robin Frijns, the two Nissan drivers taking a front row lock out. In the order, the other drivers completing the top 10 were Massa, Günther, Lotterer, Abt, Di Grassi, Dillmann and Mortara.
At 2pm, the first race of the weekend started with the Jaguar I-PACE eTROPHY. After an hectic race with some big battles, a few crashes and the appearance of an heavy rain, the race was shortened 3 minutes + 1 lap before the end with a red flag after minutes behind the safety car due to barrier repairs after a crash. Bryan Sellers won the race in front of Stefan Rzadzinski and Sérgio Jimenez.
The next race was the big one, the E-Prix ! And what a race. Chaotic, that’s probably the word !
The race started behind the safety car due to the fact that under the trees, in the shade, the right-hand side of the track was still wet while the left-hand side was dry under the sun.
Quickly after the start, poleman Oliver Rowland crashed into the wall at turn 10, Buemi took the lead followed by Frijns in second place and Massa in third. Activating his Attack Mode, Frijns put a lot of pressure on Buemi. Trying to overtake him, they made contact and Frijns damaged the nose of his car, still keeping his second place.
At 33 minutes of race left, Lotterer overtook Massa for 3rd place. A few seconds later, without Attack Mode anymore, Frijns overtook Buemi, Lotterer followed to take the second place. Buemi lost two positions in a few seconds due to a puncture, he also got a penalty for pitlane speeding, making him drop in the order. After some time behind him, Abt overtook Massa to get third place.
15 minutes after the start of the race, the rain began to fall. A few laps later, a full course yellow was deployed as the rain got heavier.
24 minutes til the end and green flag was back. A bunch of crashes followed. Tom Dillmann touched the wall after the restart and then retired.
A second full course yellow appeared after the crash of Alexander Sims due to a contact with Rowland at turn 3, Sims did retire too. That was a total mess as Sam Bird went off the track after a contact with D’Ambrosio just before that crash, at the same corner. Wehrlein missed the apex a few seconds later.
15’30” from the checkered flag and it was green again !
After a few seconds, Massa spun out. The race became more and more difficult for him has he had a problem with his visor with rain pouring down in his helmet. Then, Edoardo Mortara hit the wall. It definitely wasn’t Nissan’s day, not Venturi’s one either. Later on, Mortara crashed into Lynn at turn 13, trying to overtake him. They both retired from the race. This crash made a third full course yellow appear. Felipe Massa kept falling in the order after Turvey made contact with him, the Brazilian fell in 12th place.
10 minutes to go before the end of the race and the sun appeared again. It was not raining anymore but of course, the track wouldn’t dry before the end. The safety car entered the track soon during this third full course yellow.
3 laps til the end and it was green flag. D’Ambrosio crashed into the wall and Lopez into the back of him. The fourth full course yellow appeared.
A few seconds before the end, the race went green again, a few corners to go for Frijns to take the victory !
Here’s the top ten drivers at the checkered flag : Frijns, Lotterer, Abt, Di Grassi, Günther, Vergne, Da Costa, Paffett, Massa and Wehrlein. Previous championship leader, Jérôme D’Ambrosio finished at the 17th place of the race.
Robin Frijns is the first Dutch winner in Formula E and said that it was the hardest race of his life. He now leads the championship with 81 points, in front of André Lotterer with 80 points and António Félix Da Costa with 70 points. Tom Dillmann secured the fastest lap of the race with a 1:02.780. On the teams side, DS Techeetah leads with 142 points, in front of Envision Virgin Racing with 135 points and Audi Sport ABT Schaeffler with 129 points.
Image credit – Xavier Soquet