Victory for di Grassi in Zurich as Bird slashes Vergne's points lead


Audi's Lucas di Grassi claimed a place in history by winning the ABB Formula E Zurich ePrix, thereby becoming the first driver to win a motor race in Switzerland in 64 years.

Motorsports had been banned in the country following the 1955 Le Mans disaster, but the all-electric championchip was granted a special dispensation to hold this weekend's race.

Di Grassi proved the class of the field, displaying an almost supernatural ability to carve his way past his rivals. Having qualified in fifth place he was soon able to dispatch Dragon's Jerome d'Ambrosio, DS Virgin's Sam Bird and Techeetah's Andre Lotterer.

He finally took the lead on lap 18 after catching and making equally short work of Mitch Evans, who had earlier claimed his and Jaguar's first Formula E pole position. After that, di Grassi effectively checked out and finished the race with a huge lead of more than seven seconds over the rest of the field. It's the reigning champion's first race win of Formula E's fourth season.

Struggling to keep his championship hopes alive, Bird appeared to lack power and gradually fell back to fifth place before the mid-race change of cars.

However a Full Course Yellow to deal with debris from Felix Rosenqvist's Mahindra which had clipped the wall in turn 1 ended up having dramatic consequences. A number of leading drivers were cited for speeding under the yellow, including Evans, Lotterer, José María López and Sébastien Buemi.

Their removal from contention promoted Bird back to second place behind di Grassi, with d'Ambrosio picking up third ahead of the relegated Lotterer and Buemi. But moments later a shock fifth name was added to the list of penalties, with championship leader Jean-Éric Vergne likewise obliged to serve a pit lane drive-thru at a galling 18mph.

Vergne had started from 17th place after his worst qualifying of the season. He successfully muscled his way through the field and had been running in sixth place before a slow pit stop dropped him back three places. The new speeding penalty then demoted him back out of the top ten again.

A late lock-up for Lopez meant that Vergne yo-yoed back into the points by the chequered flag. However, he was unable to make the key pass on Oliver Turvey that would have promoted him beyond tenth place before the finish. He also missed out on the bonus for fastest lap, after his Techeetah team mate Lottter posted a time of 1:16.423s in the closing laps.

As a result of the dramatic race, Vergne's former 40 point lead in the championship over Bird has been slashed to just 23 points. There are just two races remaining on the 2017/8 calendar, with the New York ePrix doubleheader due to take place on July 14/15.

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