It is well documented that this weekend FIA Formula E were to make motorsport history, hosting the first motor racing event in Switzerland in six decades. The all-electric racing series has taken to the bumpy streets of Zurich to break this ban that was imposed after a horrific accident at Le Mans in 1955.
The 2.465m track offered a series of long straights, 90 degree corners and a top speed of 215km/h. It brought us drama, unexpected penalties and a seriously dominating drive from Lucas di Grassi – handing him his first victory of the 2017/18 season.
Lucas di Grassi claims his first win of the year
The 2016/17 Formula E Drivers’ Champion Lucas di Grassi secured his first win of the season after displaying some truly spectacular overtakes, managing his battery well and avoiding the wealth of drive-through penalties that were distributed throughout the ePrix. He finished the race with a lead of 7.542 seconds in front of Bird and 16.822 seconds from Jerome D’Ambrosio in third.
Although it is no longer possible for di Grassi to fight for the championship this year, he has become the first driver in 64 years to win a motor racing event in Switzerland: not a bad day at work. He also helps Audi close the points gap in the constructors’ championship to Techeetah.
The championship is still wide open as we head to the New York Finale
With Jean-Eric Vergne facing disastrous fortunes during the Zurich ePrix weekend, including a poor qualifying result and battling several unexpected obstacles during the race, he managed to take away a single point form the Zurich ePrix. However championship rival Sam Bird dodged the drive-throughs and finished the Zurich ePrix in second place, giving him vital points to keep the championship alive as we head to the New York Double-Header Finale.
The championship now stands 23 points between Vergne who leads and Bird in second. It is known that Sam Bird was highly competitive in New York last season, taking both wins in the double-header finale. Although Vergne could have wrapped up the championship in Zurich, it will now go down to the wire in New York City.
Jean-Eric Vergne was a man on a mission but disaster struck
Despite his worst qualifying of the session, placing his Techeetah in 17th on the grid, Championship Leader Jean-Eric Vergne made sure to show who is boss around the streets of Zurich, displaying an overtaking masterclass during the 39 lap race – seven of those cars during the first ten laps of the race.
However his race was filled with drama. Trying to pass the Mahindra of Felix Rosenqvist resulted in Rosenqvist’s car being chucked into the barriers and loosing his rear wing. Although surviving the initial action between the two drivers, Rosenqvist’s rear wing was deserted in the middle of the track which was run over by Vergne just laps later. A full course yellow was deployed immediately after.
Vergne also had trouble when it came to the mid-race pit stops. Having a FCY deployed played into the hands of all of the field, but when he switched into his second car the Techeetah simply did not start. After several seconds, Vergne was able to leave the garage and found himself in ninth position.
The final nail in the coffin came in the form of a drive through penalty for speeding under the FCY, which also ruined the race of five other drivers in the top ten.
He finished the race in tenth, securing a single championship point, leaving the championship to go down to the final in New York. Although this may always be the race in which Vergne could have statistically won the Formula E drivers’ title.
Evans slipped from first and fell down the field
Having secured his first-ever Formula E podium, for both himself and for the Panasonic Jaguar Formula E Team, only hours before, Mitch Evans dominated the first half of the ePrix leading the first 18 laps. Unfortunately for Evans, Lucas di Grassi blasted his way past in the approach to the first turn being later on the brakes than Evans and took the lead. Pit stops soon followed and di Grassi continued to dominate in his Audi, expertly managing the gap between the rest of the field as well as his energy management.
Evans was one of five drivers who found themselves penalised for speeding under the FCY, which inevitably ruined his race. He recovered well but issues with battery management meant that he fell down the field as the race came to a close. He finished the Zurich ePrix seventh place. Disappointing for both Jaguar and Evans who showed so much domination here in Zurich.
Delight and disappointment for Dragon
Jerome D’Ambrosio took Dragon’s first podium since season two, when he finished third in Zurich. Escaping any drive-throughs, he managed to fight his way up to third place to join di Grassi and Bird in the top three. Huge elation for the Dragon team who have really struggled over the past few seasons.
There was also huge celebration from the team who managed to get both cars into Super Pole earlier in the day.
Unfortunately for Lopez, despite having strong performance during the race, he too got caught out by speeding in the FCY and received a drive-through penalty. Towards the end of the race, Lopez also made front-facing contact with a barrier which ultimately ruined his impressive run on track. He finished the race in 12th.