The eighth round of ABB FIA Formula E Championship was run at the streets of Paris, where there was once again drama before, during, and after the race.
Oliver Rowland got Pole Position in front of his Nissan e.dams teammate Sebastien Buemi, as well as Robin Frijns and Felipe Massa.
The drama in qualifying was at both Mahindra Racing cars, Jerome D’Ambrosio and Pascal Wehrlein, were disqualified, since they had driven with too low tire pressure on both cars. Thus they had to start from P21 and 22 instead of P1 and 6… So it was a huge deal for championship leader D’Ambrosio.
Antonio Felix da Costa, second in championship before the weekend, only qualified fourteenth, while third position Andre Lotterer would start from P6.
It had rained on Saturday morning, but the track was almost dried up as the race was about to start. And it was important because half of the starting grid was wet, while the other half was dried up from the sun. Hence the race director chose to start the race behind Safety Car, giving everyone a fair chance.
The first lap was undramatic, where all the cars survived without any damage – opposed to many other races this year.
But Oliver Rowland completely missed his braking point on the second lap and ran into the TECPRO barrier. He fell back all the way down to last position, where he couldn’t blame anyone but himself.
Other than that there were no incidents throughout the field in the first couple of laps.
Frijns and Massa were the first in the leading group to take the obligatory Attack Mode, while Buemi took it one lap later. Thus there was again status quo between the three drivers.
When Buemi dived back to the track to take Attack Mode, Frijns brushed the rear of the Nissan and damaged his own front wing, but it wasn’t so bad and he could drive further without problems.
Andre Lotterer came up to fourth place, when Maximilian Günther dived in for his first Attack Mode.
Suddenly, Buemi lost speed on the track and fell back down the field before he pitted, ruining Nissan’s day.
At the same time Lotterer went past Massa, in a nice outbraking, where the German got the car on the inside of the Brazilian, who then had to give up the position.
One lap afterwards, Daniel Abt also drove past Massa, in a similar overtake.
So, after ten minutes of racing, the leading order was Frijns, Lotterer and Abt.
But then the rain came – and it turned into a hail storm.
The cars got a couple of laps, before the race director chose to do a Full Course Yellow, since the conditions were too dangerous to drive.
After five minutes of slow driving, the race got green flag.
It gave problems for Tom Dillmann, who slid sideways into the armco and broke his suspension.
Mitch Evans lost half of his front wing and fell back down the field.
Stoffel Vandoorne, Antonio Felix da Costa, Daniel Abt, Sebastien Buemi and Felipe Massa were the five drivers who got Fan Boost in today’s race. Not that it would help much in the rain.
There was more chaos with about twenty minutes left on the clock, when Jerome D’Ambrosio didn’t brake in time in Turn 1, and hit Sam Bird. Behind them there was another collision between Alexander Sims and Oliver Rowland, where the latter pushed Sims hard into the barrier. Stoffel Vandoorne and Pascal Wehrlein had to turn their car in the last second, in order not to hit Bird and Sims.
All that caused another FCY period, so that Sims’ car could get removed. The others could luckily drive back to the pits.
The race was restarted with fifteen minutes left, where the spray began to really annoy the drivers.
Felipe Massa had a spin in the last corner, while his Venturi teammate drove into the wall by himself one lap later. Venturi’s team boss Susie Wolff wasn’t impressed at all.
Rowland had yet another tour in the off area, but he was already the last person on the lead lap anyway.
Alex Lynn got pushed off the track by Edoardo Mortara, which caused another FCY.
Right before it happened, Oliver Turvey locked his wheels in Turn 2 and pushed Felipe Massa off the track. Both could continue, after a quick 180 degrees turn.
It developed into a Safety Car period, so that the cars could get cleaned up.
The race got restarted with two minutes plus one lap left. The cars went to turn, before there was a drama again and again.
Jerome D’Ambrosio outbraked himself and got hit by Jose Maria Lopez. While Lopez could continue, it was over for D’Ambrosio.
It meant that effectively the race was finished, since they couldn’t manage to remove D’Ambrosio’s car before the chequered flag.
Robin Frijns won the race, ahead of Andre Lotterer and Daniel Abt.
After the race there were a bunch of penalties to be handed. Jerome D’Ambrosio, Oliver Rowland and Edoardo Mortara got three grid penalty for the next race they attend, due to the collision they caused.
Robin Frijns is now leading the drivers’ championship, just one point ahead of Andre Lotterer. Antonio Felix da Costa is currently P3, with the same points as Lucas Di Grassi, while Jerome D’Ambrosio, last year’s champion Jean-Eric Vergne, Mitch Evans, and Daniel Abt allesammen are a race win away within the lead.
DS Techeetah leads the teams’ championship, followed by Envision Virgin Racing, Audi Sport Abt Schaeffler, Mahindra Racing and BMW in Andretti Motorsport.
With eight different winners in eight races, there is a question – will there be a ninth winner, when the next race is run in Mondaco at 11 May?