Di Grassi Takes Narrow Mexico City Win
Pole-sitter Wehrlein covered his ground into the first corner to pull a 1.1-second gap after taking advantage of a big move from Oliver Rowland behind. Whilst Di Grassi made a strong start, Rowland was the bravest under brakes to move from fourth to second. The big loser however was Felipe Mass, who lost three spots in sixth.
A mere two laps in and a red flag was declared after a massive shunt from Nelson Piquet after the Brazilian tangled wheels with Jean-Eric Vergne. The Frenchman opted for a late-defence and brakes slightly early, leaving Piquet with nowhere to go but over the DS Techeetah and into the barriers.
The BMW Andretti of Alexander Simms became collateral damage in the incident, while DS Techeetah mechanics inspected the amount of damage to Vergne’s car. It was also an opportunity for teams to make set-up changes, as it would now be a flat-out finish to the end of the race.
Andre Lotterer, Jerome D’Ambrosio and Edoardo Mortara were all under investigation for overtaking under yellows, with D’Ambrosio moving a massive six positions from twelfth to sixth.
At the restart, the field was led away under the safety car, with Buemi, Massa, Mortara, Lotterer, D’Ambrosio, Vergne and Nasr all instantiating Attack Mode. It was a crucial error with two laps under the safety car whilst the rest of the front-runners left engaging the mode a lap later.
This left Buemi under pressure from Da Costa in fifth, but a good exit from Buemi just gave the Swiss driver enough of an edge at the end of the main straight. The pair went side-by-side through the next series of corners, with Da Costa sustaining damage to his front-left in the process.
Sam Bird had now made his way up to fifteenth after starting at the rear due to a driveshaft failure in qualifying, but would have his hands full defending against Daniel Abt who had yet to use his Attack Mode.
Up front, Rowland was edging closer to Wehrlein, with Buemi waiting in the wings in third with slightly more energy at his disposal. The big mover however was Di Grassi, who quickly dispensed of Buemi to close-up on the lead group of Rowland and Wehrlein. Da Costa had now also joined the lead train behind Buemi in fifth.
A mistake from Rowland as he drifted wide to engage attack mode, cleared a path for Di Grassi to take second and leave him exposed from teammate Buemi. Wehrlein now needed to keep Di Grassi behind for one more lap whilst the Brazilian still had access to additional power.
This then handed Pascal the opportunity to engage a power advantage, but the German was still unable to drop Di Grassi and would cut the corner at turn one in attempting to defend against the Brazilian.
As the pair rounded the final turn, Wehrlein would drop to zero percent, allowing Di Grassi to scythe past against the barriers.to take victory ahead of Da Costa, Mortara, D’Ambrosio and Andre Lotterer in fifth. A five-second penalty for cutting the corner would drop Wehrlein to sixth.
“I’ve never had so much adrenalin”, said Di Grassi. “I think today was my best race ever. We’ve had a difficult season, but we’re back”.
Jerome D’Ambrosio now holds a seven-point lead in the championship over Antonio Felix Da Costa, who is one-point ahead of Sam Bird in third.
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