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.

Helio Castroneves ‘hustling’ for IndyCar, IMSA rides; talking with four to five teams

Helio Castroneves IMSA IndyCar
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As his season gathers steam, Helio Castroneves said his prospects for finding new rides for 2021 in IMSA and IndyCar also are gaining momentum.

The three-time Indianapolis 500 winner said Monday he is optimistic about landing in either or perhaps a combination of both series when Team Penske and Acura end their DPi partnership after this season.

“A lot of people I spoke with, four to five teams, are interested,” Castroneves said. “Whether it’s doing Indy 500 only, whether it’s pushing to do full time or do the sports cars as well. It’s been a very nice conversation.

LOOKING AHEADTeam Penske drivers seeking new rides for 2021

“I have a lot of respect for all the teams that have been talking, and I feel the same feedback. We just have to wait for their (sponsor) connections, and I’m also looking for some connections on my side as well, so hopefully we’ll be able to put this together and get something very soon.”

Given two decades of success with Penske in IndyCar and IMSA, Castroneves’ resume hardly needs burnishing. But the Brazilian has combined with co-driver Ricky Taylor in the No. 7 Acura DPi to win the past two overall victories at Road America and Michelin Raceway Road Atlanta.

But Castroneves, who doesn’t have a manager, said he has been working the phones hard rather than wait for the strong results to bring in the calls.

“At this point, I feel like I’m the one who needs to be talking to them because people need to know I want to continue racing and understand my desire,” Castroneves, 45, said. “There is opportunity, no question, in both (IndyCar and IMSA), which I’m really happy about it. However, because of the COVID-19, a lot of things sometimes have to be a little delayed. But I’m excited. Whatever the opportunity and whatever destiny guides me, whether IndyCar or sports cars, trust me I’ll be as happy as it could be and doing my 100 percent like I always did.

“It’s like politics, you need to be out there, good news or bad news. People have to make notice of your presence. I’m hustling. I want to continue to keep it going. Hopefully, we’ll have good news very soon.”

The news has been all good lately on track for Castroneves and Taylor, who hope to continue their run Sunday at Mid-Ohio Sports Car Course.

The No. 6 duo has surged to sixth in the IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship standings, 10 points out of the lead with four races remaining. After thinking there was “no hope” to be competitive after opening the season with three consecutive poor finishes, Taylor now sees an opportunity for a happy ending.

“With the program going away, Helio has won all the big races and given so much back to the team and left such a mark, he’s really part of Penske history,” Taylor said. “For me, it’s been an opportunity of a lifetime to be a part of it. I’d like to leave my little mark as well. Helio has won everything except for a championship.

“Obviously, we’ve won races already together, but we can win a championship now. I think if both of us can do that together and both win our first championship for ‘The Captain,’ that would be an absolute dream come true, and we can tie a bow on it and be happy.”