Abt Schaeffler star retakes championship lead with stunning drive

LONG BEACH, USA (April 2 2016) – Redemption came to Lucas di Grassi in the shape of a perfectly-judged win in the FIA Formula E Faraday Future Long Beach ePrix.


The Abt Schaeffler Audi Sport driver had sprayed the victory champagne at the last race in Mexico City, only for the disappointment of disqualification to hit home long after the bubbles had fizzled out.

But with a steely determination to take advantage of any opportunity that would come his way in the fight for the 2016 FIA Formula E Championship, di Grassi produced a drive of genuine quality.


From pole position, it was DS Virgin Racing’s Sam Bird who led in the early stages of the race, but di Grassi kept him in his sights, and when he managed to get a better run down the back straight he pulled a great move on the Brit into Turn 5 to take the lead.


Bird managed to keep on di Grassi’s tail through the mid-race car change, but in his second car he was caught out by cold brakes and locked up into Turn 5, sending him down the escape road. He managed to avoid any serious damage, but lost a hat full of places and any hope of victory.


Di Grassi now had a comfortable lead over Venturi’s Stephane Sarrazin, only for all of it to be wiped out when last year’s winner – Nelson Piquet Jr – crashed over the kerbs at the first chicane and walloped into the wall. The Qualcomm Safety Car was required to retrieve his stricken NEXTEV TCR machine, handing Sarrazin an unexpected shot at the win.


But di Grassi timed the restart to perfection and cruised home for his second win of the year. With Sebastien Buemi suffering a disastrous race – he collided with Robins Frijns, which not only damaged both cars so badly they were forced into making an early car change, he then received a drive-through penalty – di Grassi has taken over the lead in the points standings he lost along with his Mexico win.


“I’m very happy to show that if you keep your focus, keep up your work, good results come,” he said. “From the outside races always look comfortable, this is a tricky track, it’s very easy to do mistakes, it was an extremely difficult race. Stephane was quick and was putting pressure on me. It’s an extremely difficult car to drive on the edge so we had no comfort in winning the race, we just had to focus on making no mistakes.”


For Sarrazin second place was his first podium finish and keeps up his record of scoring points in every race so far this season.


“It’s amazing that since last year we have been quick but never on the podium,” said Sarrazin. “It was a very good race and we’ve improved a lot. The team has come from zero – it was completely new – so we are very happy with the car and the total package, and it was a good result.”


Third place fell to Daniel Abt, ensuring Abt Schaeffler scored its first ever double podium. The team piled on to the huge podium stage, where a sizeable chunk of the 17,000-strong crowd was on hand to give the drivers a fantastic ovation.


“I love California and I knew that coming here we would be strong,” said Abt. “I set the overall fastest lap today in FP2, but it didn’t quite work in qualifying, so I was a bit disappointed coming into the race. In the race I tried to stay cool while others around were making a lot of mistakes, and that helped me a lot. This result was so important for the team and our first double podium is for them.”


Fourth and fifth place for Nick Heidfeld and Bruno Senna meant it was the biggest ever points haul for Mahindra, while Bird was left ruing his error in sixth. Mexico City race winner Jerome D’Ambrosio received FanBoost for the first time in his Formula E career (di Grassi and Heidfeld were the other recipients), but it was a low-key race for the Dragon Racing driver, who finished seventh, one place ahead of his team-mate Loic Duval.


The final two points places were filled by maiden top-10 finishers. Simona de Silvestro became the first female driver to score points in Formula E with a strong drive to ninth place for Andretti, while Mike Conway opened his account for Venturi by claiming a single point in 10th.


Buemi did manage to salvage something from the race by setting the Visa Fastest Lap and the two bonus points it brings, but for him and the Renault e.dams team it was a race to forget. They will now be re-doubling their efforts and hoping to get back on the front foot as the series heads to their home race – the inaugural Visa Paris ePrix – which takes place on April 23.

2016 Faraday Future Long Beach ePrix (Rd 6) – Race results


1.           Lucas di Grassi, Abt Schaeffler Audi Sport, 45:11.582s (25)

2.           Stephane Sarrazin, Venturi, +0.787s (18)

3.           Daniel Abt, Abt Schaeffler Audi Sport, +1.685s (15)

4.           Nick Heidfeld, Mahindra Racing, +2.343s (12)

5.           Bruno Senna, Mahindra Racing, +4.968s (10)

6.           Sam Bird, DS Virgin Racing, +5.229s (11)

7.           Jerome D’Ambrosio, Dragon Racing, +6.735s (6)

8.           Loic Duval, Dragon Racing, +8.057s (4)

9.           Simona de Silvestro, Andretti Formula E, +10.505s (2)

10.      Mike Conway, Venturi, +10.900s (1)

11.      Nico Prost, Renault e.dams, +11.205s

12.      Oliver Turvey, NEXTEV TCR, +17.417s

13.      Jean-Eric Vergne, DS Virgin Racing, +1 lap

14.      Salvador Duran, Team Aguri, +1 lap

15.      Robin Frijns, Andretti Formula E, +1 lap

16.      Sebastien Buemi, Renault e.dams, +3 laps (2)

17.      Antonio Felix da Costa, Team Aguri, DNF

18.      Nelson Piquet Jr, NEXTEV TCR, DNF


For more information on Formula E visit www.fiaformulae.com


Notes to editors:

For further information, including hi-res images, visit http://media.fiaformulae.com or contact:


Sam Mallinson, Press Officer

+44 (0) 7745 199 490 // sam@fiaformulae.com


Follow Formula E:

Website: www.fiaformulae.com

Twitter: www.twitter.com/FIAformulaE (@FIAformulaE)

Facebook: www.facebook.com/fiaformulae

YouTube: www.youtube.com/user/FIAFormulaE

Instagram: www.instagram.com/fiaformulae

Vine: FIAFormulaE

Add us on Snapchat: FIAFormulaE

About FIA Formula E Championship:

Formula E is a ground-breaking FIA championship and the world’s first fully-electric racing series. It represents a vision for the future of the motor industry, serving as a framework for research and development around the electric vehicle, accelerating general interest in these cars and promoting sustainability. The first season began in Beijing in September 2014 and completed in London in June 2015, racing in 10 major cities (11 races) around the world. The championship sees nine teams, each with two drivers, going head-to-head to create a unique and exciting racing series designed to appeal to a new generation of motorsport fans. Season two got underway in October in Beijing with the series becoming an ‘open championship’ allowing approved manufacturers to develop new powertrain solutions. Future seasons will see the regulations open up further allowing manufacturers to focus on improving battery technology.


About FIA & Michelin – Today’s partners for tomorrow’s mobility:

As well as being the official Formula E tyre supplier, Michelin is an official partner, at the international level, of the FIA Action for Road Safety campaign. The programme is designed to support the Decade of Action for Road Safety initiated by the UN, the aim of which is to save five million lives over the next 10 years. This programme is set up to educate and advocate for safer roads, vehicles and behaviours around the globe.

Comments are closed.