Formula E: Di Grassi disqualified, handing win to Jerome d’Ambrosio

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Audi Sport ABT driver Lucas di Grassi appeared to have extended his lead at the top of the FIA Formula E championship standings with a crushing victory in Saturday’s Berlin ePrix, only for the stewards to disqualify him in the aftermath of the race and hand the race win to Jerome d’Ambrosio.

On a circuit constructed in the grounds of the disused Berlin Tempelhof airport, the site of the Berlin Airlift that saw the western allies keep the city supplied despite being under Soviet occupation at the beginning of the Cold War, di Grassi went unchallenged during the race.

Starting second on the grid, di Grassi managed to pass pole-sitter Jarno Trulli at turn two on the opening lap of the race before opening up a sizeable lead over the rest of the field.

The Brazilian led for all but one lap, falling into second place when he took his mandatory pit stop on lap 16 of the race before regaining P1 when championship rival Nelson Piquet Jr pitted.

Piquet was focused on damage limitation after qualifying down in 13th place, and although he had fresher tires and more power by going one lap longer than the rest of the field on his first stint, he could only move up into fifth position by the end of the race.

Di Grassi eventually stormed to victory by 7.5 seconds, and it proved to be just enough as his car came to a halt on his inlap following the end of the race.

However, worse news would follow. The stewards confirmed in the hours following the race that Audi Sport ABT had been deemed to have modified the front wing of his car, thus breaching the regulations and prompting di Grassi’s exclusion from the final results.

As a result, d’Ambrosio took his first race win in Formula E with Sebastien Buemi and Loic Duval completing the podium. Piquet finished the race in fourth after di Grassi’s exclusion, giving him a two point lead at the top of the championship standings ahead of Buemi.

Despite being excluded, di Grassi remains very much in the title hunt as he trails Piquet by just ten points with three races remaining. However, he made his feelings perfectly clear on Twitter after the race.

American team Andretti Formula E struggled in Berlin as Jean-Eric Vergne finished as its only points-scoring driver in seventh place. Scott Speed finished down in 13th place in the sister car.

After starting on pole position, Trulli dropped through the field across the course of the race before eventually retiring with two laps remaining.

To see the full results for the Berlin ePrix, click here.

Toyota No. 8 car wins the 24 Hours of Le Mans for third consecutive year

24 Hours of Le Mans
JEAN-FRANCOIS MONIER/AFP via Getty Images
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LE MANS, France — Toyota Gazoo’s No. 8 car comfortably won the 24 Hours of Le Mans by five laps Sunday to secure a third straight victory in the prestigious endurance race.

It was also a third consecutive win for Swiss driver Sebastien Buemi and Japan’s Kazuki Nakajima driving. Brendon Hartley was the other driver, having replaced two-time Formula One champion Fernando Alonso.

Buemi and Hartley sat on the side of the car as Nakajima drove toward the podium. Hartley won for a second time after tasting success with the Porsche LMP Team in 2017 before an unhappy season in Formula One.

The Swiss team’s Rebellion No. 1 featured American driver Gustavo Menezes and Brazilian Bruno Senna – the nephew of late F1 great Ayrton Senna.

It finished one lap ahead of Toyota Gazoo’s No. 7, with Rebellion’s No. 3 finishing in fourth place.

For much of the race it looked like Toyota’s No. 7 would win after leading comfortably from pole position. But late into the night the car encountered an engine problem and the 30-minute stop in the stands proved costly.

The race was first held in 1923. A total of 252,500 spectators attended in 2019, but there were none this year when the race started three months late because of the novel coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic.

“We miss the fans,” New Zealander Hartley said. “I look forward to seeing all the fans again.”

In other divisions:

United Autosports won the LMP2 division with the entry of Filipe Albuquerque, Paul Di Resta and Phil Hanson.

–In LMGTE Pro, the victory was claimed by Aston Martin Vantage AMR of Maxime Martin, Alex Lynn and Harry Tincknell (who drives for Mazda in the DPi division of IMSA).

–TF Sport won the LMGTE Am class.

The Toyota No. 7 took pole after former F1 driver Kamui Kobayashi narrowly edged out the Rebellion No. 1 team in qualifying.

In damp and humid conditions Mike Conway got away cleanly from the start, while Senna held off Buemi.

After nearly seven hours, Toyota’s No. 8 fell back after a 10-minute stop in the stands to fix a brake-cooling problem on Kazuki Nakajima’s car. Rebellion’s No. 1, driven by Frenchman Norman Nato, took advantage to move into second place behind Toyota’s No. 7.

Then came the decisive moment at 2:40 a.m. as the No. 7 – also featuring Argentine Jose Maria Lopez – encountered a turbo problem. When the car came back out it was back in fourth.

“We had a few problems early in the race,” Nakajima said. “Later they had a bigger issue than us.”

Rebellion’s No. 1 encountered a problem on the hood at around 9 a.m. and the change took six minutes, allowing the Rebellion No. 3 (Nathanael Berthon-Louis Deletraz-Romain Dumas) to close the gap.

It was becoming a tight battle between the two Rebellion cars behind Toyota’s No. 8.

At 12 p.m. Rebellion No. 3 with Dumas behind the wheel was only one second ahead of No. 1 driven by Menezes. Then both cars came in for a driver change with Deletraz swapping for Dumas on a lengthy stop, and Nato for Menezes as Rebellion No. 1 suddenly moved ahead of its team rival.

Dumas, a winner in 2016 with Porsche, appeared unhappy at the strategy decision to bring his car in first and the length of the stop. There were tense explanations in the team garage.

Colombian Tatiana Calderon, an F1 test driver with Alfa Romeo, was in the Richard Mille Racing Team in the LMP2 category. She was joined by German Sophia Florsch – an F3 driver – and Dutchwoman Beitske Visser. They placed ninth out of 24 in their category.