Nelson Piquet Jr enjoyed a fairytale finish at Long Beach, claiming his first ePrix victory precisely 35 years after his father won his first Grand Prix at the very same street circuit.
The winner of the ePrix was arguably decided at its very start, with Piquet Jr coupling a perfect launch from third on the grid with a bold dive into Turn 1 to claim a lead that went unchallenged until the chequered flag fell.
“The start was one of those times where everything goes right, the car didn’t wheelspin much and it seemed like both cars in front didn’t have a very good reaction”, the Brazilian ex-Formula One ace explained.
“As soon as I got the lead it was just a matter of managing from the front and keeping calm without making mistakes.”
Aside from Nelson Piquet’s clean getaway, the ePrix start was typically chaotic and set the tone for the race, with some cars in the chasing pack lining up five-abreast into Turn 1.
Daniel Abt and championship leader Nico Prost, who started from first and second on the grid, got caught up in the ensuing melee of contact and penalties and endured a miserable afternoon to finish fifteenth and fourteenth, respectively.
However, worst off were Salvador Duran, Sam Bird, Jarno Trulli and Californian local Sam Speed, who all failed to finish – with the latter bringing out a safety car after running wide on the exit of Turn 2.
As the race progressed into its final stages, Piquet’s fellow Formula One graduate Jean-Eric Vergne emerged as a solid contender for second place, leaving di Grassi and Buemi to battle over the final podium spot. Initial polesitter Buemi, demoted to starting tenth on the grid following a penalty for excessive power usage in qualifying, was unable to pass di Grassi and had to settle for fourth place.
With Prost finishing outside of the points, di Grassi’s run of strong finishes meant that the Audi Sport ABT driver reclaimed the Formula E championship lead.
“It’s an honour to be back in the lead of the championship”, di Grassi reflected.
“To return to the podium was the main goal here even if it was my fourth podium in six races…it was off the back of two tough results.”
FULL RACE RESULTS
|01||Nelson Piquet||China Racing|
|03||Lucas di Grassi||Audi Sport ABT||+2.994s|
|05||Bruno Senna||Mahindra Racing||+8.844s|
|06||Jerome d’Ambrosio||Dragon Racing||+13.460s|
|07||Antonio Felix da Costa||Amlin Aguri||+16.171s|
|08||Jaime Alguersuari||Virgin Racing||+17.975s|
|09||Loic Duval||Dragon Racing||+18.436s|
|12||Karun Chandhok||Mahindra Racing||+32.917s|
|15||Daniel Abt||Audi Sport ABT||+44.361s|
|16||Charles Pic||China Racing||+58.125s|
|17||Salvador Duran||Amlin Aguri||+12 laps|
|18||Sam Bird||Virgin Racing||+17 laps|
|19||Jarno Trulli||Trulli||+32 laps|
|20||Scott Speed||Andretti||+36 laps|
|01||Lucas di Grassi||Audi Sport ABT||75|
|02||Nelson Piquet||China Racing||74|
|03||Nicolas Prost||e.dams Renault||69|
|04||Sébastien Buemi||e.dams Renault||55|
|05||Sam Bird||Virgin Racing||52|
|06||Antonio Felix da Costa||Amlin Aguri||43|
|07||Jerome D’Ambrosio||Dragon Racing||42|
|09||Jaime Alguersuari||Virgin Racing||30|
|10||Bruno Senna||Mahindra Racing||28|
|11||Daniel Abt||Audi Sport ABT||22|
|14||Karun Chandhok||Mahindra Racing||18|
|15||Oriol Servià||Dragon Racing||16|
|16||Charles Pic||China Racing||12|
|18||Loic Duval||Dragon Racing||8|
|21||Takuma Sato||Amlin Aguri||2|
|22||Salvador Duran||Amlin Aguri||1|
|23||Ho-Pin Tung||China Racing||0|
|24||Antonio Garcia||China Racing||0|
|29||Katherine Legge||Amlin Aguri||0|
Image credit: FIA Formula E