Jean-Eric Vergne wins home Sanya E-Prix for DS Techeetah
Jean-Eric Vergne put an end to his season of woe on the streets of Sanya, securing his first victory of the 2018/19 season to become the sixth different winner in six races for DS Techeetah.
While it was Nissan e.dams' Oliver Rowland who secured a maiden Formula E pole position in the series' return to mainland China, Vergne started from second on the grid, with BMW i Andretti Motorsport's Antonio Felix da Costa lining up in third.
Following a long pause on the grid prior to the race start, when the five red lights went out, it was Rowland who had the strongest getaway on the front-row of the grid, leading into Turn 10 which marked the first corner of the race.
Given the tight nature of Turn 10, the front of the pack approached the first corner with caution, with Vergne, da Costa, Daniel Abt and Alexander Sims following Rowland in formation, remaining in their starting positions.
Before Vergne could begin to challenge Rowland, a Full Course Yellow was deployed, with GEOX Dragon's Felipe Nasr cruising to a halt while Sam Bird parked his Envision Virgin car behind the barriers after being rear-ended by Stoffel Vandoorne.
After a momentary pause in racing, the Sanya E-Prix was resumed and while Rowland remained out in front, the Briton was unable to open up an early advantage, with the trailing pack following close behind.
With the top five continuing to lap nose-to-tail, Vergne launched an attack on Rowland into Turn 11 after weighing up a move for some laps, clearing the driver to take the lead of the race with 21 minutes + 1 lap of racing remaining, swiftly arming and deploying his first use of Attack Mode after opening up a narrow lead at the front of the field.
Vergne's manoeuvre on Rowland demonstrated that overtaking was possible on the streets of Sanya, and while one DS Techeetah driver progressed through the field, the other copied, with Andre Lotterer overtaking Sims for fifth into Turn 5.
While the German racer cleared the Briton, it was Sims who would ultimately lose out, smacking the barrier on the exit of Turn 5, with this causing the BMW driver's suspension to break, forcing Sims to park up on the run down to Turn 8.
With Sims' iFE.18 parked on a straight with no service roads nearby, the red flag was shown by race control for the third race in a row, with this leading to a pause in racing with 12 minutes remaining.
After a pause, racing was resumed behind the safety car, with the green flag waving after one subsequent tour under yellow flag conditions, with Vergne leading the field into one final sprint to the chequered flag.
Following the race restart, it was found that Vergne was under investigation after failing to respect the safety car procedure, and with Rowland close behind, a maiden win for the rookie was within grasp.
Told to hold position by his Nissan e.dams team, Rowland remained in second despite closing in on Vergne, with the leading Frenchman being handed a reprimand as opposed to a time penalty in the dying stages of the race.
With the timing board winding down to zero, yellow flags waved once again, this time in Turn 8 after Sebastien Buemi struck the rear of Robin Frijns, with this causing the Dutchman to crash into Lucas di Grassi which, in turn, caused the Brazilian driver to retire, meaning that the race ended under Full Course Yellow conditions.
Taking the chequered flag in first place, Vergne secured his first win of the season after failing to score any points since January's Marrakesh E-Prix while Rowland took second, with da Costa claiming third in the final order.
Andre Lotterer returned to the points in the second DS Techeetah, taking fourth place while Daniel Abt completed the top five as the sole Audi driver inside the top 10.
Buemi, who started from the pit lane, finished in sixth place while Jerome d'Ambrosio fronted a 7-8 finish for Mahindra Racing, with Pascal Wehrlein taking eighth at the line.
Jaguar Racing's Mitch Evans put in another impressive performance to take ninth place after qualifying in 21st while Edoardo Mortara completed the top 10 for Venturi.
Outside of the top 10, Felipe Massa was 11th and was followed by the NIO pair of Oliver Turvey and Tom Dillmann while Frijns was 14th, with di Grassi finishing as the final classified driver, one lap down as a result of his late-race incident.
By finishing in third place, da Costa has regained the lead in the Drivers' Championship, heading d'Ambrosio by three points while Vergne has jumped from 11th to third in the order, eight points adrift of the lead while tied on points with Bird.
In the Teams' Standings, Envision Virgin Racing continue to lead on 97 points in what is a close fight, with four points covering the top four teams.
The ABB FIA Formula E Championship will return on April 13 for the second running of the Rome E-Prix.
Sanya - Race Result
|1||Jean-Eric Vergne||DS Techeetah Formula E Team||25|
|2||Oliver Rowland||Nissan e.dams||1.762||18|
|3||Antonio Felix da Costa||BMW i Andretti Motorsport||3.268||15|
|4||Andre Lotterer||DS Techeetah Formula E Team||4.631||12|
|5||Daniel Abt||Audi Sport Abt Schaeffler||5.972||10|
|6||Jerome d'Ambrosio||Mahindra Racing||17.340||8|
|7||Pascal Wehrlein||Mahindra Racing||18.367||6|
|8||Sebastien Buemi||Nissan e.dams||19.405||4|
|9||Mitch Evans||Panasonic Jaguar Racing||20.646||2|
|10||Edorado Mortara||Venturi Formula E Team||22.208||1|
|11||Felipe Massa||Venturi Formula E Team||27.739||0|
|12||Oliver Turvey||NIO Formula E Team||31.453||0|
|13||Tom Dillmann||NIO Formula E Team||32.654||0|
|14||Robin Frijns||Envision Virgin Racing||82.284||0|
|15||Lucas di Grassi||Audi Sport Abt Schaeffler||DNF||0|
|16||Nelson Piquet||Panasonic Jaguar Racing||DNF||0|
|17||Alexander Sims||BMW i Andretti Motorsport||DNF||0|
|18||Gary Paffett||HWA Racelab||DNF||0|
|19||Jose Maria Lopez||GEOX Dragon||DNF||0|
|20||Stoffel Vandoorne||HWA Racelab||DNF||0|
|21||Sam Bird||Envision Virgin Racing||DNF||0|
|22||Felipe Nasr||GEOX Dragon||DNF||0|