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Formula E Mexico: Di Grassi Takes Victory in Calculated Drive

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[Update: Lucas Di Grassi has been excluded from the Mexico ePrix, after the ABT Schaeffler FE01, was found to be 1.8kg underweight. This hands victory to Jerome D’Ambrosio, and promotes Sebastian Buemi and Loic Duval into second and third. Sebastian Buemi is now 22 points clear of Di Grassi in the championship race.]

Lucas Di Grassi earned his nickname of ‘The Professor’, after smart energy management saw him take victory in Mexico City’s ePrix. Starting third, the Brazilian waited until the pack were pitting, to speed past Nico Prost in second. After switching cars, Di Grassi overtook pole-sitter Jerome D’Ambrosio, combing Fanboost with a late-braking lunge, to finish five seconds clear of D’Ambrosio and Buemi.

As the lights turned green, pole-sitter D’Ambrosio maintained the lead. The predicted first corner chaos did not emerge, despite cars running three wide with contact between Conway, Da Costa, and Senna. First blood went to Sebastian Buemi, who capitalised on a lock up from Daniel Abt, to pass him into fourth. The first stint saw the top five drivers concertina, with little change to the order.

A cunning use of energy management saw the pivotal moment for Di Grassi. Diving down Prost, moments before the pack pitted, saw Di Grassi move into P2. While the Renault e.dams teammates switched positions, promoting Buemi into third, Di Grassi lined up to attack D’Ambrosio. Using Fanboost, Di Grassi pounced immediately, passing D’Ambrosio in a nail-biting move into T1.

The new race leader was afforded respite in the second half, as tempers flared between D’Ambrosio and Buemi, in P2 and P3 respectively. Buemi’s attempt at an overtake was met with a last-second defensive manoeuvre from D’Ambrosio. This led to an expletive-laden radio transmission from Buemi. Rattled, Buemi tried to pass D’Ambrosio again, but was denied in another on-the-limit defensive move. Buemi’s determination saw an overtake attempt on Lap 29, but this time neither came away unscathed. As D’Ambrosio ducked left, Buemi ploughed into the rear of the Dragon car, leaving neither severely damaged, but D’Ambrosio angered.

Jerome d'Ambrosio Mexico ePrix

Lining up for another pass on Lap 35, Buemi overshot the first chicane, cutting the corner and leaving him no choice but to hand back the place. As Buemi slowed, D’Ambrosio could not find space to pass, leading Prost to attempt to take third. An irate D’Ambrosio then cut the final chicane to re-take second, ahead of Buemi. With all positions agreed, and no change, Prost was given with a drive-through penalty for an unsafe release from the pits, shattering his hopes of a podium.

In the closing laps, D’Ambrosio and Buemi were too caught up in their own battle to bother the race leader. As he crossed the line, Di Grassi performed victory donuts in front of the crowds, leaving D’Ambrosio and Buemi to cross the line with one hundredth of a second between them, and remain in their respective positions.

Mexico ePrix Formula E

Loic Duval finished in fourth, with Nico Prost’s drive through penalty seeing him fifth. Robin Frijns finished in a healthy P6, ahead of Sam Bird, but Simona de Silvestro dropped down the order after a start in a promising P10, to finish outside of the points in fifteenth. Despite qualifying strongly, a visit into the wall on the final lap saw Daniel Abt drop from fourth to eighth.

Heidfeld and Sarrazin rounded out the points scorers, with Bruno Senna missing out in P11. The NEXTEV pair of Turvey and Piquet, finished P12 and P14, while Mike Conway finished one place ahead of the current champion. It was a poor home race for Salvador Duran, making up the rear in P16, ahead of the problem-stricken cars of Jean-Eric Vergne, and Antonio Felix da Costa.

Formula E returns on April 2, 2016, when the drivers take on the streets in Long Beach, USA.

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