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Di Grassi calls Mexico Formula E win ‘one of the best races of my life’

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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.

Abt takes second FE pole in Mexico as Buemi, di Grassi struggle

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Daniel Abt swept to his second pole position in Formula E after edging out Oliver Turvey in the final Super Pole shootout ahead of the Mexico City ePrix on Saturday.

After spending much of his time in Formula E in the shadow of title-fighting teammate Lucas di Grassi, Abt led the ABT Scheaffler Audi Sport team to its second straight pole at the Autodromo Hermanos Rodriguez as a number of title favorites struggled.

Following his red-eye flight from the WEC Prologue at Monza, Sebastien Buemi struggled in qualifying thanks to a dirty track that caused the early runners to lose grip. Buemi qualified 10th, leaving him with a fight on his hands to battle through to his fourth straight win.

Di Grassi was another to lose out in Q1, falling to a lowly 18th, leaving teammate Abt to take the limelight as he made the most of a cleaner track in Q2 to get through to Super Pole.

After seeing NextEV NIO’s Turvey go faster in the initial heats, Abt managed to put together a rapid lap of 1:02.711 to take provisional pole. Turvey did all he could, but was powerless to stop Abt from taking pole, falling 0.156 seconds short to finish second.

Jose Maria Lopez put in an impressive display for DS Virgin Racing to qualify third, matching his best effort from Hong Kong, while Venturi’s Maro Engel finished fourth. He will drop 10 places on the grid due to a penalty. Jean-Eric Vergne rounded out the top five for Techeetah.

The Mexico City ePrix kicks off at 5pm ET on Saturday.

Berlin Formula E race gets new layout at Tempelhof Airport

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Formula E has confirmed that June’s Berlin ePrix at Tempelhof Airport will use a revised layout to the one run in its first season.

Made famous for its role during the Berlin Airlift in the early Cold War years, Tempelhof Airport closed in 2008 and was turned into a public park, becoming the location for Formula E’s first visit to Germany in 2015.

The recent refugee crisis saw Tempelhof be turned into a temporary camp, forcing Formula E to move to the city center for season two.

Government officials in Berlin announced earlier this year that Formula E would not be able to return to the Alexanderplatz region for 2017, with the all-electric series opting to return to Tempelhof.

The series has now confirmed that it will race with a revised layout at the airport for the upcoming double-header in order to reflect the faster nature of the cars used in season three compared to the season one runners.

For us as a German team with German partners, and me as a German driver, it is great news that we will have two home races this season,” ABT Schaeffler Audi Sport’s Daniel Abt said.

“It’s no secret that I loved the track around Karl-Marx-Allee a lot. But now that I have seen the new Tempelhof layout, I can’t wait to get there. The fans will love the unique setting that brings everyone so close to the action and us drivers.

“The track is perfect for great racing and a lot of overtaking. I’m looking forward to meeting my home crowd. We will put on a great 48-hour Formula E party for the fans in Berlin.”

The Berlin ePrix takes place on June 10-11.

FIA Formula E confirms nine homologated manufacturers from 2018

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The fifth season of the FIA Formula E Championship is hailed as a landmark season for the emerging electric, open-wheel series. The next round of technological enhancements will see the cars drop from two cars used to one per race, to go along with advances to the powertrain, and that will fall into line with the new cycle of homologation for the chassis and battery.

Nine manufacturers have been homologated for that three-year period starting with season five, 2018-2019, through to season seven of 2020-2021.

Confirmed manufacturers are:

  • ABT Formel E
  • BMW AG
  • DS Automobiles
  • Jaguar Land Rover
  • Mahindra Racing
  • NextEV NIO
  • Penske Autosport
  • Renault
  • Venturi Automobiles

Noteworthy here is the inclusion of Penske Autosport as a name – Jay Penske’s Dragon Racing team, in partnership with Faraday Future, has been on the grid since the series’ inception but not with the Penske name.

Additionally, Mercedes isn’t present at the moment. Mercedes signed an agreement in October 2016 where it had the option to enter the championship for season five. The lack of Mercedes being listed here does not mean they won’t race but it could mean it’s just a customer entry.

Alas, the significant increase in manufacturer involvement speaks to the growth of the championship and has exceeded Formula E founder and CEO Alejandro Agag’s forecasted predictions.

“The mission of the FIA Formula E Championship is to act as a platform to advance the development of electric vehicle technology and alternative energy solutions – this hinges on the participation of automotive and component manufacturers,” Agag said in a release.

“When we launched the series in 2012, we had forecast to secure at least three manufacturers by season Five. The news today has highlighted the number and quality of manufacturers joining the championship and tripling our initial expectations. This just goes to show the relevance of Formula E to the motor industry and as an attractive proposition to new audiences and commercial partners, such as the recent agreement with Allianz.”

Berlin to host Formula E double-header in place of Brussels

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Formula E has confirmed that the Berlin ePrix will be a double-header race weekend following the cancellation of the Brussels event.

The race in Brussels was set to take place on July 1, only for the regional government to vote against it being held in the city center, putting the event at risk of falling off the calendar. The race was officially canceled for 2017 on Thursday.

To ensure the calendar for season three stays at 12 races, Formula E has confirmed that the Berlin weekend will now feature two races: one on Saturday June 10, the second on Sunday June 11.

Berlin’s format will mirror the double-header weekends run in London through Formula E’s first two seasons, and means that the final three events will feature two races. Both New York (July 15-16) and Montreal (July 29-30) were already planned to be double-headers.

The Berlin event will return to its season one location of Tempelhof Airport after city officials voted against it returning to Karl-Marx-Allee, where it was staged last year.

The addition of a race on the Sunday places greater pressure on a number of drivers and personnel who will be traveling to Le Mans in France ahead of the 24-hour race the following weekend.

Most had planned to use the Sunday as a travel day before the start of Le Mans festivities on the Monday, but will now face a tighter schedule to make the trip from Berlin.

Updated 2016/2017 Formula E Calendar

1. Hong Kong – October 9
2. Marrakesh – November 12
3. Buenos Aires – February 18
4. Mexico City – April 1
5. Monaco – May 13
6. Paris – May 20
7. Berlin – June 10
8. Berlin – June 11
9. New York – July 15
10. New York – July 16
11. Montreal – July 29
12. Montreal – July 30