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.
They are trying to make me win this Championship in the hard mode. Dont worry, we will be back to kick some Piquet and Buemi ass ON TRACK…
— LUCAS DI GRASSI (@LucasdiGrassi) May 23, 2015
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.