Brazilian and race winner Jean-Eric Vergne fought for the lead all along ePrix in Uruguay
Lucas Di Grassi's first victory in the 2018 season of the Formula E World Championship almost took place this Saturday (17) in Punta del Este, Uruguay. The Audi Sport ABT Schaeffler team driver was the fastest in practice, set the best lap on the superpole and was one of the main protagonists of the race. Lucas crossed the finish line in second place after a controversial decision by the stewards, who surprised drivers and teams qualified for the super pole by applying a penalty that had not been used until then. The current world champion, however, highlighted the positive points of the race: "We proved we will fight for victories until the end," said Lucas. "Too bad the first place here escaped for a dubious decision. If we had kept the pole, I think the victory would be ours. But in the next race we will fight hard again, "added Lucas, who got his 21st podium in the series. After setting a new lap record for the track in the last free practice before qualifying, when he was four tenths faster than the closest competitor, Lucas was scheduled to qualify in Group 1 - which is always a disadvantage, since the track surface generaly has lower grip levels compared to the following groups. In addition, the wind brought sand from the beach right next to the track, and Group 1 would thus get a dirtier surface. Fastest in Group 1, Lucas held pole position until the last group entered the track, when Frenchman Jean-Eric Vergne (team Techeetah) managed to overcome him narrowly. But in the super pole session, with the five best riders of the day fighting for the first place on the grid, Di Grassi was unbeatable and secured pole position. The race officials, however, decided to impose a penalty in all drivers whose cars touched a bollard - a small flexible pillar - and this caused a revolution. The first placed drivers lost their best times and the pole ended with Vergne who, despite being fifth on the super pole session, had not touched the bollard. “In my opinion it wasn’t correct to delete the times of the fastest drivers because we all touched a bollard in the chicane,” said Di Grassi. “I understood it differently in the drivers’ briefing and it was handled differently beforehand in free practice and in qualifying. Instead of starting from pole position I had to start from second place on the dirty side of the grid – and this on a track where overtaking is extremely difficult", continued Lucas, who just touched the bollard lightly as he passed through the chicane. In the race, Di Grassi and Vergne were the protagonists of a great duel, the main of the weekend. The duo ran several times side by side with maneuvers that raised the grandstands audience throughout the race. Soon after the pit stop, for example, Lucas surprised the French with a maneuver that could have resulted in him taking the lead. But the cold tires had not yet reached a good level of grip and the Brazilian used all his ability to avoid an accident, locking wheels and practically scratching the wall. "There was no lack of emotion, we fought almost the whole race," Lucas said. "But I couldn't get the first place this time. And I leave Uruguay excited about our chances in the next race in Rome, "added Lucas. The next round of the Formula E World Championship will be held on April 14. Prior to that, Lucas will be in Curitiba for the second race of the Brazilian Stock Car series on April 8th.