Lucas di Grassi has called his last-to-first charge to victory in Saturday’s Mexico City ePrix “one of the best races of my life” as he slashed the gap to Formula E championship leader Sebastien Buemi.
Di Grassi qualified a lowly 18th on Saturday before being hit on the opening lap of the race, prompting the ABT Schaeffler Audi Sport team to pit the Brazilian early and complete a rear wing change.
After narrowly avoiding going a lap down, di Grassi made a second stop ahead of schedule after a safety car period, swapping cars to give himself track position once the leading drivers all pitted.
Despite having far less energy with which to complete the race, di Grassi managed the situation well and kept clear to take a memorable victory at the Autodromo Hermanos Rodriguez.
“I had a very poor qualifying today so I started at the back. Somebody crashed into my back, broke my rear wing,” di Grassi explained.
“There was a safety car, I came back, I was last. And then the safety car came about Lap 18. By that moment, when I did the stop, I thought that after the safety car went out and I had a 25 second lead to the next car when they exited the pits with half the race to go, I think I could have fought for the win, because I was roughly two seconds off and there was 14 laps remaining in that moment.
“So I thought that it was going to be tight but I could have made it. When the second safety car came and I had much less energy than those guys, I went on the radio because the safety car came in and the car was moving already. In my head I’d lost the race in that moment, because I was not able to hold them up with the amount of energy I had.
“And then luckily I had Jerome [d’Ambrosio] behind me with a little bit of hold up. I managed to create a gap and kept on just using regen, just tried to be as energy-efficient as possible, just trying to focus on my race until the last corner and just celebrated like crazy.
“For me it was one of the best races of my life in terms of how I drove the second stint, of how energy efficient I had to be.”
The result saw di Grassi end Buemi’s win streak at three races and sliced the Renault driver’s championship lead from 29 to just five points as he could only finish 13th.
Formula E returns in Monaco on May 13.