There was drama before the start of the race with Lucas Di Grassi having precautionary inverter change while Felix Rosenqvist took a battery change in one of his cars. Oliver Turvey would also start from pit-lane after having his NIO wheeled back to the garage with ten minutes to go, as would Jerome D’Ambrosio.
Buemi made a good getaway from Bird, Rosenqvist, Bird and Di Grassi. It was a relatively clean start while Mortara made small contact at the rear of the field. Alex Lynn spun his DS Virgin on lap two after contact with Abt and would re-join last. Meanwhile, Nelson Piquet was on a charge and was now up to fifth position while Di Grassi was making headway in fourth – both drivers making their positions at the expense of Lopez.
Nico Prost however tumbled down the order to nineteenth after a spin while Oliver Turvey capitalized on the turmoil to scramble up to fifteenth position. The leaders were still Buemi, Bird and Rosenqvist with Seb’s lead holding at 0.8 secs.
Piquet was now hounding Di Grassi for fourth and nudged his compatriot under brakes as Di the Audi stalled. Fearing the same technical issues he experienced in qualifying, Di Grassi immediately pulled off the racing line and was told by his team to stop the car before attempting a recycle.
Daniel Abt was now up to speed and retook Piquet for fourth position, but would have to concede the place after receiving a drive through penalty for his part in the collision with Alex Lynn. The drama would give Turvey yet another position who was by now up to tenth. Ironically, Abt would emerge right behind Lynn after taking his penalty.
The Techeetah team was making steady progress, with Lotterer now up to thirteenth while tem-mate Vergne up six positions in seventh. Lopez however was managing his energy extraordinarily well in the Dragon and biding his time in fifth.
Up the front, Felix Rosenqvist appeared to have caught Sam Bird napping to steal second spot from the championship leader. The truth however was Bird had slowed. Whatever the issue he would be granted a reprieve with a full course yellow to retrieve Lotterer’s Techeetah.
The leaders took the opportunity to switch cars, with Rosenqvist narrowly missing one of his engineers on exit. At the restart, Buemi now held a 1.5 second lead over Rosenqvist and Bird (having now changed cars). Buemi also received the #FanBoost vote alongside both Audi drivers and would have the extra power at his disposal to extend his advantage should he require a buffer over the Mahindra.
Meanwhile there was more drama for NIO and Oliver Turvey’s race was now run, having an issue with his 2nd car and unable to re-join the race.
Rosenqvist now had Buemi in his sites with 1-2% more energy at his disposal and trying to tempt the Swiss driver into using his #Fanboost power.
Rosenqvist didn’t wait – making his move for first stick the first time. Buemi didn’t argue however and slotted in behind the Swede with two laps remaining.
“I was relying on the #Fanboost which didn’t work” said Buemi after the race. “I started with the other car and the button didn’t work. But I benefitted from his [Rosenqvist’s] penalty in Berlin so it’s only fair”.
Rosenqvist didn’t look back, immediately opening up a one second lead while back in the pack, Edoardo Mortara made a clumsy move on team-mate Engel only to slide into the Mahindra of Nick Heidfeld.
Rosenqvist would eventually take victory by 1.5 seconds over Buemi, Bird Piquet and Vergne and with it, Mahindra’s second victory of the season.
“What a day after one of the most difficult practices of my career” said Rosenqvist. “Leading the championship is fantastic. I was saving my energy behind Sam and Seb and that’s where I made my advantage. Then I saw a gap and went for it”.
Image: FIA FormulaE
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