Di Grassi wins frenetic Malaysia ePrix

Abt Audi Sport driver Lucas di Grassi won an exciting Putrajaya ePrix in Malaysia on Saturday after several leading drivers struggled with a variety of problems during the race.

The first driver to have a problem was Stephane Sarrazin, who qualified in second place but had to start from the pitlane after his car couldn't move during the initial grid formation.

Pole-sitter Sebastien Buemi made a solid start and built up a significant advantage over Loic Duval over the first four laps, but when Oliver Turvey nosed his Nextev TCR 001 into the wall with a stuck throttle on lap five, the Renault e.dams driver's 2.3 second advantage over the chasing pack was wiped out under the safety car.

Upon the restart, Buemi once again sped away from the rest of the field, with Duval in second more focused on keeping Antonio Felix da Costa, Nicolas Prost and Di Grassi at bay than closing the gap to the leader.

On lap nine, halfway between the car-swap stage, Prost took third from Da Costa thanks to an undercut, and soon closed the gap on Duval's Dragon Racing car in second.

Meanwhile, Duval was starting to make an impression on Buemi's 2.5s lead, and when the winner in Beijing was forced to stop near the mid-way point with a software issue, Duval claimed first place.

As Buemi struggled with reliability, Prost was brought into the pits with a temperature problem, but both Renault drivers were able to re-join the race in points-scoring positions.

Duval had a particularly slow stop just after the halfway point which allowed both Da Costa and Di Grassi to overtake the Frenchman.

Prost was able to take the lead thanks to his early stop, but since both Renault drivers were forced into significant fuel-saving measures, Di Grassi caught Prost quickly as soon as he claimed second from Da Costa.

At that point Prost had built up a five-second lead, but within three laps his advantage was negated and with 10 laps remaining four cars were all in close proximity of each other and with a chance of claiming the chequered flag.

Da Costa took the lead from Prost at turn seven, but was arguably robbed of a podium at the very least when his Team Aguri Spark SRT_01E was forced into retirement with a suspected electronics failure.

His retirement once again promoted Prost to second, but only for a few corners when Duval overtook him at turn seven with five laps to go.

Di Grassi had opened up a 3.3s lead with three laps remaining,  but d'Ambrosio moved into second when Duval ran straight on at turn one.

Andretti driver Robin Frijns briefly moved up into third, but when he crashed at turn nine, both Sam Bird and Duval managed to pass him in the battle for third.

While several drivers had bad luck during the race, d'Ambrosio was entirely at fault for the final-lap error which robbed him of second place. He ran wide at turn seven and broke his left-rear wing, and as a result smashed into the barrier and into retirement.

Di Grassi then claimed the chequered flag to take the lead in the championship, while Bird and Frijns claimed the other two positions on the podium.

Final Classification
1 Lucas di Grassi Abt ABT Schaeffler 50m17.449s
2 Sam Bird Virgin Virgin 13.884s
3 Robin Frijns Andretti Spark   29.776s
4 Stephane Sarrazin Venturi Venturi 32.628s
5 Bruno Senna Mahindra Mahindra   34.404s
6 Antonio Felix da Costa Aguri Spark 36.925s
7 Daniel Abt Abt ABT Schaeffler   37.283s
8 Nelson Piquet Jr. China NEXTEV TCR 40.623s
9 Nick Heidfeld Mahindra Mahindra   52.904s
10 Nicolas Prost e.dams Renault 53.695s
11 Jacques Villeneuve Venturi Venturi 58.698s
12 Sebastien Buemi e.dams Renault 1m07.728s
13 Simona de Silvestro Andretti Spark   1m24.464s
14 Jerome D'Ambrosio Dragon Venturi 1 Lap
15 Nathanael Berthon Aguri Spark 1 Lap
16 Loic Duval Dragon Venturi 4 Laps
– Oliver Turvey China NEXTEV TCR/- Retirement
– Jean-Eric Vergne Virgin Virgin/- Retirement

 

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