ABT Schaeffler Audi’s Lucas di Grassi charged through the field after starting fifth to win Sunday’s Zurich E-Prix, the first auto race in Switzerland since 1954 and the penultimate weekend of the 2017/18 ABB FIA Formula E season.
Di Grassi managed to quickly work his way through the field prior to the car swaps, overtaking then leader Mitch Evans – he was forced to conserve power on his Panasonic Jaguar Racing Spark-Jaguar – in the first half of the race, and cruising home to a dominant victory.
However, chaos reigned behind him, as Techeetah’s Jean-Eric Vergne, the championship leader by 40 points over DS Virgin Racing’s Sam Bird entering the weekend, faltered mightily.
Vergne, who was working his way forward prior to the car swaps after starting 17th, found himself in the top 10 before pitting to swap cars under a full course caution with the rest of the field – Vergne hit the front wing of Mahindra Racing’s Felix Rosenqvist, which had fallen off after the Swedish driver clouted the Turn 1 wall, to cause the caution.
The caution saw the entire field take to the pits for the car swaps, but Vergne suffered a disastrous swap after his car wouldn’t start, costing him valuable time and positions.
Insult was added to injury when Vergne was one of several drivers – along with Evans, Renault e.dam’s Sebastien Buemi and Dragon Racing’s Jose Maria Lopez – assessed a drive-through penalty for speeding under the full-course caution period.
It left Vergne to languish in 10th at the end as the final points scorer. Meanwhile, title rival Bird survived the chaos to finish second, slashing the championship deficit to 23 points ahead of July’s season-ending double header in New York City.
Jerome d’Ambrosio finished third for Dragon Racing.
As it stands, Vergne leads Bird by 23 points, while di Grassi’s win vaulted him up to third in the championship.