Formula E: Di Grassi wins, Buemi disqualified in Montreal Race 1

Source: FIA Formula E Media

Lucas Di Grassi had to survive late pressure from TECHEETAH driver Jean-Eric Vergne to take victory and the championship lead in Montreal.

Di Grassi had been comfortably leading until Jose Maria Lopez lost the rear of his car and crashed into the barrier that left debris across the track forcing a Safety Car. Vergne applied immense pressure to the Brazilian in the closing laps but was unable to get close enough to attempt a move.

Behind Vergne and Di Grassi, Stephane Sarrazin and Sebastian Buemi also had a titanic battle over the final podium spot, but Buemi’s race was full of drama from the get-go. Starting in 12th after incurring a penalty for a change of battery following a shunt in Free Practice, Buemi started poorly dropping to 17thIt didn’t become any easier for him when the concertina effect caused the defending champion to damage the steering alignment of his car.

The damage required Buemi to angle his steering wheel to the left on the straights making his race even more difficult than it initially seemed. He quickly adjusted to his damaged car and gradually moved up the field to 12thNick Heidfeld possessed the first real challenge but Buemi quickly outsmarted the German and made his pass into turn one with ease.

Loic Duval was disposed of on the following lap with a similar move into turn one. Heidfeld attempted to pass Duval on the following lap on the inside but Duval squeezed the Mahindra Racing driver into the wall which caused terminal suspension damage to Heidfeld’s car. Duval was spun around and dropped multiple positions but continued.

Heidfeld pulled over and retired which produced Full Course Yellows and a host of activity in the pit lane as a majority of the field pitted, including Buemi who was now behind Daniel Abt, teammate of Buemi’s championship rival Lucas Di Grassi.

Entering the pit lane, Abt appeared to dramatically drive slower than the speed limit, which was costing Buemi. Buemi’s stop was faster than Abt’s but he was released incredibly close to Abt. Buemi came out ahead but then slowed on pit exit which saw Abt drive straight into the back of Buemi.

The pit stop phase benefitted Buemi as he jumped to 8th when the track was clear. Vergne was also a big gainer from the pit stops jumping from 4th to 2nd ahead of his teammate Sarrazin and Felix Rosenqvist who were 3rd and 4th after the pit stops.

Buemi continued to pick off his fellow competitors, Oliver Turvey, Mitch Evans and teammate Nico Prost all dispatched of in a matter of laps until another twist in an already chaotic race occurred.

Jose Maria Lopez spun and crashed into the barrier with 10 laps remaining resulting in a Safety Car. Di Grassi’s lead up to the Safety Car being deployed was already being cut by Vergne who had brought it down to 3.5 seconds. Then, a very late restart from Di Grassi appeared to have compromised him but quickly activated his FanBoost and pulled away.

Buemi struggled for pace from the restart and became under immense pressure from Abt but withstood the German and soon he set his sights on Rosenqvist. It didn’t take long for Buemi to pass the Swede, Rosenqvist was too eager to get on the throttle exiting the final corner which produced oversteer and sent him into the barrier and damaging the rear of his car.

Suffering similar damage to Buemi in the early stages of the ePrix, Rosenqvist was unable to manage the issue and rapidly dropped through the field.

The closing laps produced some incredible wheel to wheel racing, most notably between Buemi and Sarrazin.

Buemi quickly closed the gap to Sarrazin in P3 and on the final lap made a lunge up the inside of the Frenchman. Sarrazin remained on the outside and retook 3rd.

Di Grassi didn’t quite have the drama of the Sarrazin and Buemi battle but endured a stressful final lap from Vergne. The Brazilian held his nerve to win and take the lead of the championship with one round remaining.

After the race, Buemi was disqualified as his second car was found to be underweight. With only one race left of the season, the championship is still up for grabs.