Antonio Felix da Costa cruised to a surprise victory at the chaotic Buenos Aires ePrix, which saw successive race leaders beset by penalties and misfortune.
Half way into the race, which Sebastien Buemi had led from pole position, the afternoon took a dramatic turn as Karun Chandhok’s Mahindra suffered a suspension failure and careened into the outside wall of the Turn 8-9 chicane, bringing out the safety car.
Chandhok’s accident was a foreboding omen for what lay ahead as Buemi suffered the same fate mere moments after the safety car had pulled in, handing the race advantage to championship leader di Grassi.
Barely had the dust settled and the second safety car period ended when di Grassi slammed into the same stretch of wall, having also suffered a suspension breakage.
Heidfeld appeared a deserving inheritor of the Brazilian’s race lead, having become a firm crowd favourite after executing daring overtaking manoeuvres in the opening laps of the race.
A tantalising duel with the chasing Sam Bird was cut short as the Englishman was issued with a drive-through penalty for a pitlane infringement, relegating him to 12th and, crucially, out of contention for the lead.
However, Heidfeld’s time in the spotlight was also shortlived. He too fell victim to what could only be described as a bizarre frontrunner’s curse and was handed a drive-through penalty for speeding in the pitlane.
With only one lap remaining, a somewhat bewildered Antonio Felix da Costa was suddenly in first place with a comfortable lead over the chasing pack.
While a dramatic melee ensued among the following racers, the Amlin Aguri driver gingerly threaded his car through the Argentine streets to claim his first Formula E victory, wary of the suspension failures his predecessors had suffered.
Prost emerged as the victor of the melee and clinched second place, keeping his nose clean as rivals Abt and Alguersuari made violent contact. Piquet took his second consecutive podium, driving his China Racing machine to a third-place finish.
Despite contact with Daniel Abt, Alguersuari finished fourth, ahead of Bruno Senna who shrewdly deployed his Fanboost during a crowdpleasing drive to fifth.
Vergne, Bird, Heidfeld, Servia and Sarrazin completed the top ten after Amlin Aguri’s Salvador Duran was excluded from the final classification for exceeding the maximum power usage.
FULL RACE RESULTS
1. Antonio Felix da Costa, Amlin Aguri, 48:52.100
2. Nicolas Prost, e.dams-Renault, +5.354s
3. Nelson Piquet Jr, China Racing, +8.552s
4. Jaime Alguersuari, Virgin Racing, +11.148s
5. Bruno Senna, Mahindra Racing, +11.535s
6. Jean-Eric Vergne, Andretti, +11.535s
7. Sam Bird, Virgin Racing, +13.617s
8. Nick Heidfeld, Venturi, +15.464s
9. Oriol Servia, Dragon Racing, +19.334s
10. Stephane Sarrazin, Venturi, +28.973s
11. Ho-Pin Tung, China Racing, +37.858s
12. Marco Andretti, Andretti,+1 lap
13. Daniel Abt, Audi Sport ABT, +2 laps
14. Jerome d’Ambrosio, Dragon Racing, +2 laps
15. Jarno Trulli, Trulli, DNF
16. Lucas di Grassi, Audi Sport ABT, DNF
17. Sebastien Buemi, e.dams-Renault, DNF
18. Michela Cerruti, Trulli, DNF
19. Karun Chandhok, Mahindra Racing, DNF
(Salvador Duran, Amlin Aguri, Excluded)
1. Lucas di Grassi, Audi Sport ABT, 58
2. Sam Bird, Virgin Racing, 48
3. Sebastien Buemi, e.dams-Renault, 43
4. Nicolas Prost, e.dams-Renault, 42
5. Nelson Piquet Jr, China Racing, 37
6. Antonio Felix da Costa, Amlin Aguri, 29
7. Jaime Alguersuari, Virgin Racing, 26
8. Jerome d’Ambrosio, Dragon Racing, 22
9. Franck Montagny, Andretti Autosport, 18
10. Karun Chandhok, Mahindra Racing, 18
1. e.dams-Renault, 85
2. Virgin Racing, 74
3. Audi Sport ABT, 62
4. Andretti Autosport, 41
5. Dragon Racing, 38
6. China Racing, 37
7. Mahindra Racing, 36
8. Amlin Aguri, 31
9. Trulli, 12
10. Venturi, 8
Image credit: FIA Formula E