Jean-Éric Vergne, of the American auto racing team DS Penske, has won the first-ever ABB FIA Formula E World Championship race in India on Saturday 11 February.
Vergne fought hard in the final third of the race to stay ahead of Envision Racing pair Nick Cassidy, who finished second, and Sébastien Buemi. António Félix da Costa of TAG Heuer Porsche Formula E Team was promoted to the third position after investigation demoted and penalised Sébastien Buemi post-race.
The eventful race saw Sam Bird make a lunge on the dirty side of the track on fourth-placed Sacha Fenestraz (Nissan Formula E Team). The Brit could not slow his I-TYPE 6 in time, colliding with teammate Mitch Evans, pitching the Kiwi's car into a spin. Both Jaguars were ultimately forced into retirement.
In addition to the sellout capacity crowd of more than 25,000 fans, the historic race in the southern city of Hyderabad was attended by FIA president Mohammed Ben Sulayem and Mr. KT Rama Rao, Minister for IT, Industries & Commerce, Government of Telangana, whose capital city hosted the event.
Also enjoying the electric racing action were Indian cricket legend Sachin Tendulkar, and current Indian cricketers Shikhar Dhawan, Deepak Chahar and Yuzvendra Chahal.
Vergne led the way from the moment of the multi-car accident but had his mirrors full of Cassidy's Envision Racing machine as the chequered flag drew closer. The New Zealander had managed to gather up an extra four percentage points of usable energy on Vergne come the closing stages of the race. However, Vergne used every trick in the book to keep Cassidy at bay and cross the line first in what many will regard as one of his best wins and one that will live long in the memory on Formula E's first visit to India.
Buemi followed home in third originally, but an overpower infringement saw him demoted to 15th spot via 17-second penalty, equivalent to a drive-through. That promoted TAG Heuer Porsche’s António Félix da Costa onto the podium in his 100th race. Teammate Pascal Wehrlein, winner of the previous two races, crossed the line fourth after picking his way through the order from 12th on the grid.
Meanwhile, Mahindra Racing’s Oliver Rowland made a move for the podium on Buemi – not aware of the Swiss' impending penalty at the time – with just a lap to go. It didn't work out and saw him shuffled to sixth. Nevertheless, Rowland collected his first points of the season for the team’s home race. Nissan’s Norman Nato steered to seventh and the TAG Heuer Fastest Lap.
Reigning champion Stoffel Vandoorne (DS Penske) finished in eighth for his best result of the season so far, while André Lotterer (Avalanche Andretti Formula E) and Edoardo Mortara (Maserati MSG Racing) rounded out the top 10.
Round 5 of the ABB FIA Formula E World Championship is the 2023 Cape Town E-Prix on Saturday, 25 February, the first time Formula E has raced in South Africa.
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