Formula E: Di Grassi checks out with dominant win at Tempelhof Airfield
Lucas Di Grassi has won the 2015 Berlin ePrix after starting from 2nd on the grid. The Brazilian took the lead away from pole-sitter Jarno Trulli before building a lead of 10 seconds to win in impressive style. Jerome D’Ambrosio took 2nd place, with Frenchman Sebastien Buemi taking the final spot on the podium. Championship challenger Nelson Piquet Jr. worked his way up from 13th to take 5th place.
21,000 fans flocked to the Tempelhof airfield for the Berlin ePrix; the 7th round of the 2014/2015 Formula E World Championship. With only 3 races to go after this race, the championship is really beginning to hot up, with Di Grassi and Piquet separated by 4 points at the top of the drivers’ championship. Neither of them would start on pole position however, with the oldest driver on the grid, Jarno Trulli, starting at the front of a grid for the first time since the 2009 Bahrain Grand prix.
Jarno Trulli held off Lucas Di Grassi into turn 1 but Di Grassi managed to get up the inside into turn 2 to take the lead away after the Italian ran wide. One of the home heroes Daniel Abt turned into a home zero at turn 2 by spinning his Audi Sport ABT car on the brakes. By the end of lap 1, his team-mate Di Grassi had a 2.1 second lead over Trulli and Buemi. Nelson Piquet Jr had a great start from 13th to take 9th by the end of lap 2 with the aid of his first FanBoost. Liuzzi also had great opening laps after going from 11th to 6th in the second Trulli car.
A traditional Trulli train was forming behind Jarno at the start of lap 6, with Di Grassi now having built up a 7 second lead already as the Brazilian streaked away. If anyone was going to catch Di Grassi then they needed to make the move now. This was the mentality of Sebastien Buemi, Nick heidfeld and Jerome D’Ambrosio who made it through with the use of FanBoost or their elbows in the case of the latter pair; with Heidfeld and D’Ambrosio pulling off aggressive moves into turn 1 and 2. The next few laps saw the pole-sitter plummet down into the lower positions, with Trulli soon finding himself down outside of the top 10 at the start of lap 10.
The first pit-stops began at the end of lap 16, with the most energy using drivers Trulli and Sarrazin ducking into the pits. On the same lap, Piquet was on 11% battery life; an impressive first stint for the Brazilian to have the most energy remaining. Everybody else apart from team-mate Pic came in at the end of lap 17, with the NEXTEV China Racing pair pitting at the end of the lap. They rejoined in the same positions that they entered in, but they could both afford to push a little harder. This was demonstrated by Piquet setting the fastest lap of the race a lap later. They would also gain positions thanks to the two Amlin Aguri cars getting drive through penalties for being under the minimum pit-stop time.
With Daniel Abt all the way down in 17th with 12 laps to go, it was up to Nick Heidfeld to carry the hopes of the German crowd. The former Formula One driver only had 6 points after 7 rounds heading into the race and was desperate for a podium in his home race. This determination was proven with a great battle for 3rd with Buemi. Heidfeld put his Venturi up the inside, only for Buemi to get the cut-back to hold the position for another lap.
Heidfeld soon started to fall off from Buemi which put him under pressure from Audi World Endurance driver Loic Duval in the Dragon racing car. The Frenchman joined late on in the championship but was showing no signs of inexperience in 5th place. His team-mate was 3 places ahead of him in 2nd place, with D’Ambrosio leading the charge in Dragon Racing’s best race so far. Duval eventually got by Heidfeld after a great lunge up the inside, with Piquet following the Frenchman through on the next turn.
There was overtaking aplenty in the battle for the positions just off of the podium, but at the front it had been all too easy for Lucas Di Grassi. Having taken the lead on lap 1, the Brazilian capitalised on the pack being held up by the pole-sitter to build a 10 second lead at one point. He backed off a little on the closing stages to look after the car, but he would still cross the line at the end of lap 33 to take the Berlin ePrix victory, his second win of the season, by almost 8 seconds. Di Grassi then stopped soon after the chequered flag after reporting a problem with his Audi Sport ABT car. He would be towed back to Parc Ferme to celebrate his win that would elevate his championship lead to 17 points.
Jerome D’Ambrosio took his first podium of the season with second place for the Belgian driver. He would come home ahead of 3rd placed Sebastien Buemi for e.dams Renault. Loic Duval made it a 2-4 finish for Dragon Racing, with the Frenchman taking his best finish of the year ahead of championship challenger Nelson Piquet Jr. Nelson worked his way up from 13th to finish right on the gearbox of Duval. He took the 2 points for getting the fastest lap in the race in the process.
Nick Heidfeld more than doubled his championship points tally in this race alone, with the German taking 8 points in 6th place. He was just 3 tenths ahead of team-mate Stephane Sarrazin at the chequered flag. Andretti Autosport had a woeful day in Berlin, with Vergne coming home in a disappointing 8th place ahead of Virgin’s Sam Bird.
Vitantonio Liuzzi took the final points paying position in 10th, with team-mate and pole-sitter Jarno Trulli eventually finishing last having retired with 2 laps to go whilst running in 19th; an awful performance by Trulli on the 11th anniversary of his sole Formula One victory in the 2004 Monaco Grand Prix.
2015 Berlin ePrix results:
|1||Lucas Di Grassi||Audi Sport ABT||25||2nd|
|2||Jerome D’Ambrosio||Dragon Racing||18||6th|
|3||Sebastien Buemi (FB)||e.dams Renault||15||3rd|
|4||Loic Duval||Dragon Racing||12||8th|
|5||Nelson Piquet Jr. (FL) (FB)||NEXTEV China Racing||12||13th|
|8||Jean-Eric Vergne||Andretti Autosport||4||10th|
|9||Sam Bird||Virgin Racing||2||15h|
|11||Nicolas Prost||e.dams Renault||0||7th|
|12||Antonio Felix da Costa||Amlin Aguri||0||19th|
|13||Jaime Alguersauri||Virgin Racing||0||14th|
|14||Scott Speed||Andretti Autosport||0||12th|
|15||Daniel Abt||Audi Sport ABT||0||5th|
|16||Karun Chandhok||Mahindra Racing||0||20th|
|17||Charles Pic (FB)||NEXTEV China Racing||0||17th|
|18||Salvador Duran||Amlin Aguri||0||16th|
|19||Bruno Senna||Mahindra Racing||0||18th|
|20||Jarno Trulli (P)||Trulli||3||1st|