Daniel Abt celebrated his 25th birthday by scoring his maiden Formula E victory in race two of the season-opening Hong Kong ePrix, after Venturi’s Edoardo Mortaro spun while leading with three laps to go.
The race was initially delayed by several minutes as a failure of the start lights meant the safety car had to lead the field around for the first lap. Mahindra’s Felix Rosenqvist had secured pole for the race, but span at the hairpin on lap two, dropping to 11th place and gifting the lead to Mortara.
Despite competing in only his second Formula E race, Mortaro looked comfortable in the lead and gradually extended his lead over Abt up to the first pitstops, while at the same time using less energy than those around him.
In the closing stages of the race, Mortara had built up a gap of three seconds over Abt, and began to push harder once he had cleared lapped traffic. On lap 43/45, Mortara spun from the lead at turn two, allowing Abt through the steal the lead and score his maiden Formula E victory, and also Audi’s first as a manufacturer.
After the race, Mortara appeared visibly upset in parc ferme, explaining that the mistake was entirely his: “I wanted too much; I was trying to go for the fastest lap. It was my mistake.”
Abt offered some kind words to Mortara after the race, and joked that his spin was the perfect birthday gift, “I just want to say it’s a huge credit to Edo for making it this far today. He made a mistake and maybe that was his birthday present!”
After spinning from the lead on lap two, Rosenqvist recovered well to finish second. He had steadily moved up through the field to sit seventh just before the pitstops, but a quick stop and an issue for Antonio Felix Da Costa meant he moved up to third place once the pitstops had all shaken out.
Like Mortara, Rosenqvist also owned up to his mistake, “I just completely locked my brakes and spun around,” he said. “[After the spin] we had to go for a different strategy, but I just felt so good in the car so a big thanks to my team”.
After a disappointing race yesterday, Jaguar’s Mitch Evans scored his first points of the season with a strong run to fourth place, equalling his best result in Formula E.
Jean-Eric Vergne got the better of yesterday’s race winner Sam Bird to claim fifth for Techeetah. Bird charged through the field from 13th on the grid, but was unable to find a way past Vergne and had to settle for sixth.
Oliver Turvey drove well to finish seventh and score his first points of the season for NIO, while Maro Engel finished eighth to secure Venturi’s first double points finish since the Paris ePrix in May.
Nico Prost endured a difficult day in his Renault e.dams and could only managed ninth after starting down in 14th on the grid.
Alex Lynn had to settle for 10th place and the final point after running low on energy, and dropping out of fifth place on the final lap.
Sebastien Buemi recovered well from last place on the grid to finish 11th, but with no points to show for his efforts, he’ll want to quickly move on from this weekend.
Last season’s champion Lucas Di Grassi was another driver who’ll be looking ahead to the next race; his car stopped on track briefly before the pitstops meaning he dropped to the rear of the field and could only recover to 15th place.
Da Costa finished 12th for Andretti but had run in fourth during the first half of the race, An issue with his second car during the pitstops meant he dropped several places, and the opportunity to challenge for only his second podium in Formula E.
Andre Lotterer had another difficult race on his debut Formula E weekend, hitting the barrier hard at the final corner of the last lap, while running in 14th place.
Images: FIA Formula E
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