Di Grassi wins wild Putrajaya ePrix as Renault falters

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Abt Audi Sport's Lucas di Grassi claims his first Formula E win of the season in Malaysia, as Renault e.dams’ Sébastien Buemi and Nicolas Prost experienced a difficult race in an action-packed Putrajaya ePrix.

Having enjoyed a great start from pole position, the Swiss looked set to repeat his dominant performance from the Beijing opener until he almost came to a halt halfway through the race following software problems.

Buemi barely managed to make it back to the pits for his mandatory stop and rejoined the fray well behind the leaders. His woes initially promoted fellow WEC star Loïc Duval into first place before a slow stop for the Dragon racer allowed Prost to jump into the lead.

Having switched cars much earlier than his rivals, the Frenchman was soon under pressure as energy management became critical. Indeed, Prost’s mirrors were filled with a queue of cars all eager to pass the Z.E 15-powered blue-and-yellow challenger.

First was Di Grassi, who had worked his way up to second after lining up sixth on the grid. The ex-Formula One racer quickly dispatched Prost, grabbing the lead into Turn 1 on Lap 24 of the 33-lap electric contest.

Di Grassi then cruised to a comfortable win, while chaos started erupting behind him. The ailing Prost tumbled down the order, thus elevating the Dragon pairing of Duval and Jérôme d’Ambrosio to the podium positions.

Barely had the 2013 Le Mans winner moved up to second that he hit the wall and allowed his Belgian team-mate through. A charging Robin Frijns (Andretti) also tried to seize the opportunity only to oversteer into the barriers as well, which enabled DS Virgin Racing’s Sam Bird to gain two positions and emerge in P3.

Former F1 team-mates di Grassi and d’Ambrosio looked set to finish in that order when the Dragon man crashed out of the race in the final lap. The Brazilian eventually took the chequered flag nearly 14 seconds ahead of Bird, who had won at Putrajaya last year, and a resilient Frijns, who somehow managed to bring his wounded car home to seal his maiden Formula E podium.

Venturi’s Stéphane Sarrazin drove a great recovery race after he had to start from the back of the grid despite qualifying on the front row. The Frenchman ended up fourth, ahead of Mahindra’s Bruno Senna.

Sixth was Team Aguri’s Antonio Felix da Costa. The Portuguese was challenging for the podium when he had to re-set his car, which is using last year’s technology, several times. Di Grassi’s team-mate Daniel Abt finished seventh, ahead of reigning Formula E champion Nelson Piquet Jr, who recovered from his lowly 16th starting spot.

Despite spinning at the first corner, Mahindra’s Nick Heidfeld crossed the line in ninth, while Prost grabbed the final point on offer after his fall down the order was further accelerated by the Frenchman also making a mistake.

After comfortably leading half the race, pole sitter Buemi had to settle for 12th behind Venturi’s Jacques Villeneuve. The Swiss drops back to second in the Drivers’ standings and now trails Putrajaya ePrix winner Di Grassi by eight points.

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