WEC driver Lucas di Grassi has extended his championship lead in the FIA Formula E championship after winning the all new Paris ePrix yesterday. This was the first time in 70 years that racing has returned to the streets of Paris, and it was not an easy race either for the field that comprises of several WEC drivers. Di Grassi claimed a comfortable win after the race ended under the safety car brought out by a last minute crash by Ma Qinghua.
The Paris ePrix brought back memories of pre-war racing on the streets of Paris this weekend, and even though Di Grassi won the race, it was Sam Bird of DS Virgin Racing who claimed his third pole of the season. Bird drove flawless for most part of the race but Di Grassi had managed to slip into the lead after pulling out a clever overtaking maneuver through Turn 1.
The race went through smoothly until Loic Duval (another WEC driver) brought out the yellow flags on lap 6 when his car stopped on the escape road. Racing resumed on lap 8 and cars began to overtake several laps later. Sebastien Buemi benefited more from the overtakings after passing Stephane Sarrazin for fifth and began chasing the cars ahead for a podium hunt.
The Swiss driver began chasing his teammate Nico Prost before passing him for fourth, upon which he began a strategic assault on Bird who was running third. The Brit proved hard to pass, and even with fan boost deployed Buemi could not get past the Virgin Racing driver. With five laps lefts in the race Bird locked up on Turn 1 and ran wide allowing Buemi to slip into third place, and eventually claiming a podium win.
Commenting about Bird’s racing style, Buemi said: “Sam is a great driver and he’s doing great things, but he takes a lot of risks. He tried to brake so late on the inside and it just didn’t go his way. He was all over the place for the last few laps.”
The yellow flags flew after Bird’s incident but the safety car was called out when Ma Qinghua bumped into the wall. The race ended under a safety car, with Di Grassi in first place and Jean-Eric Vergne in second place ahead of Buemi.
Di Grassi was stripped off his last win in Mexico after his car was found to be in violation of weight regulations by weighing 1 kg less than the stated 888 kg. The Paris win gives the Brazilian more confidence and extra points to claim the current championship.