Vergne Edges Rowland For Win in Action-Packed Sanya EPrix
Today’s result means Vergne remarkably becomes the sixth different winner in six races this season.
Vergne started from second on the grid behind surprise pole-sitter Rowland but had to wait patiently for his chance to pass as the Nissan e.dams driver drove a defensive race to lead a train of cars up to the halfway point in the race.
With around 21 minutes left of the 45-minute +1 lap race, Vergne caught Rowland napping and was able to make a move for the lead late on the brakes into turn 11.
Vergne immediately stretched his legs upon taking the lead and built enough of a gap to activate attack mode and rejoin ahead of Rowland.
With around 12 minutes remaining, a safety car was called to recover the stricken BMW Andretti car of Alexander Sims who had made contact with the wall, and Vergne was forced to defend his lead again at the restart.
There was a tense end to race following the restart as Vergne came under investigation for not respecting the safety car procedure. As the final lap began, Vergne still held a narrow lead and was only confirmed as having received a reprimand rather than a time penalty shortly after he crossed the line to take the flag.
Rowland’s second place finish was his best to date in Formula E and his first podium finish in the championship.
BMW’s Antonio Felix da Costa survived contact with Rowland earlier in the race to secure third place, regaining the championship lead in the process. The pair briefly touched when da Costa attempted a move to snatch second place, but the Brit shut the door damaging the front of da Costa’s nose cone.
Andre Lotterer rounded off a good day for Techeetah with fourth place after passing Daniel Abt with a few minutes remaining. The German was earlier involved in the collision that ended Sim’s race but was not found to be at fault.
Abt dropped back from his fourth-place grid spot to finish fifth, ahead of Nissan e.dams Sebastien Buemi who put in a superb recovery drive to secure sixth after starting from the pitlane.
The Swiss driver may yet lose that result however as he was involved in a late incident that shunted Virgin’s Robin Frijns into the Audi of Lucas di Grassi at the hairpin, ending the latter’s race.
Mahindra finished the race in the same places that they started as Jerome d’Ambrosio and Pascal Wehrlein came home in seventh and eighth place.
Jaguar Racing’s Mitch Evans showed why he’s so crucial to his team this season with a super drive to take ninth after starting the race from 19th. He inherited two places late on in the aftermath of the Frijns/di Grassi incident, and another by passing Hong Kong E-Prix winner Edoardo Mortara who was forced to take avoiding action.
Previous championship leader Sam Bird was forced to retire his car a few minutes into the race after being hit from behind by HWA’s Stoffel Vandoorne on the opening lap.
There were seven non-finishers, including Nelson Piquet, Sims, Gary Paffett, Jose Maria Lopez, Vandoorne, Bird and Felipe Nasr.
Image Credit: FIA Formula E
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