Formula E: Lucas di Grassi title defence in TATTERS after Santiago disaster | F1 | Sport


Jean-Eric Vergne moved to the top of the Drivers’ Championship with his first chequered flag of the season but he was pushed all the way by rookie team-mate Andre Lotterer as radio failure meant team orders were unable to come through, the team-mates even making contact at one point.

Three-time Le Mans winner Lotterer, who had a previous highest finish of 13th and two non-finishes, finally clicked with electric racing and made a real race of it with – potentially now former – close friend Vergne.

Reigning Formula E champion Lucas di Grassi’s defence may already be over after his third non-finish in four races. The Brazilian sits bottom of the Drivers’ Championship – the only pointless driver while Britain’s Sam Bird dropped to third after a fifth-placed finish.

The Chilean capital welcomed electric street racing for the very first time, as the series took over the city’s streets after a more traditional track race in Morocco and brought a festival atmosphere along with it.

A complex track in Santiago saw its fair share of incidents with drivers needing to safely negotiate two bridges, a lengthy stretch of duel carriageway and the city’s main roundabout at Baquedano Square.

The E-Prix was the first major single-seater race in Chile since the 1950 Chilean Grand Prix. Thousands of fans lined the streets to catch a glimpse of history being made alongside the tens of thousands who had packed the sold-out enclosure which also included President Michelle Bachelet.

After a relatively incident-free qualifying, where the pointless Lotterer came from nowhere to set the fastest time, the drivers waited for Super Pole to pull gasps from the crowd.

Bird lost control coming out of turn five to end up backwards into the wall while Lotterer crashed on the very first turn but managed to complete his lap despite a damaged front wing to qualify in fourth.

The yellow flag was deployed on the opening lap of the E-Prix as both DRAGON’s Jose Maria Lopez and Venturi’s Maro Engel went into the wall. Panasonic Jaguar Racing’s Nelson Piquet JR had a great jump to start the race to move from fifth to second.

Di Grassi looked to be in a good position to score his first points of the season, recovering from a 10-place grid penalty to reach sixth place but the curse of his defence reared its head.

Moments after the mandatory car swap, for the third race of four, technical issues with his Audi Sport ABT Scheffler returned and he ground to a halt after turn four.

With TECHEETAH looking likely to secure a comfortable one-two Lotterer went on the attack on lap 30 and both nearly went past and nearly took out his teammate as Vergne complained over radio to his team.

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