Formula E in Sao Paulo: Mitch Evans wins premiere race in Brazil, Jaguar dominates competition
Mitch Evans has decided an eventful first Sao Paulo E-Prix of Formula E in his favor. The Jaguar driver prevailed in a thrilling final phase against his fellow New Zealander and brand colleague Nick Cassidy in the Envision. Sam Bird completed the podium. Antonio Felix da Costa was "only" fourth after a driving error, Pascal Wehrlein ended up in seventh place after a strong recovery and extended his world championship lead..
Pole sitter Stoffel Vandoorne got off to a very good start. Antonio Felix da Costa, on the other hand, did not get away well, but was just able to defend against Mitch Evans. In turn 3, there were already two crashes: First, Edo Mortara hit Evans and damaged the front. Then Norman Nato collided with the McLaren of Jakes Hughes and mounted the car. Both drivers involved in the accident took such heavy damage that they had to come into the pits.
On Lap 2, Sebastien Buemi also crashed into the rear of Max Günther. The Swiss driver also fell far behind. And Andre Lotterer also picked up damage and initially rolled out, but later continued. Sam Bird made up one place on Rene Rast, and a little later on Jake Hughes - the Briton on the move. The same was true for Pascal Wehrlein, who was already ninth after six laps.
Then the first lead change: Felix da Costa overtook Vandoorne when the latter first drove through the attack zone. Evans, Nick Cassidy and Jean-Eric Vergne followed behind the duo. Then the lead switched back again, this time at the end of start/finish. Felix da Costa lost another position to Evans - an enormous number of overtaking maneuvers in the early stages! Meanwhile, Sacha Fenestraz stopped in turn 6 after an accident. With a damaged rear left suspension, the Nissan driver had to retire. As the car stopped at the side of the track, race control sent the safety car onto the course.
Ticktum shoots Dennis down - next safety car
After a relatively long neutralization, which Buemi, Mortara and Lotterer were able to use to catch up again, the race continued on lap 11 of 31. In terms of energy, Evans was in the best position - at least in the leading group. Vandoorne, on the other hand, already had two percent less energy than the Jaguar driver after the first third of the race. Felix da Costa now launched an attack and overtook Evans for second place. Cassidy also launched a successful attack against his brand colleague Evans. Günther received a 5-second time penalty: after taking a shortcut through the chicane, he had not stopped as instructed before returning to the course.
Cassidy even took the lead from Vandoorne, but drove straight through the attack zone and dropped back behind the Belgian. Then Dan Ticktum crashed into the right rear wheel of Jake Dennis. The Brit still slid slightly into the side of his World Championship rival Wehrlein, but the latter took no damage. Dennis, on the other hand, had to park his Andretti. Cassidy regained the lead, and Felix da Costa also passed Vandoorne. As many experts had predicted before the start, there were numerous lead changes because the drivers preferred to save energy in the slipstream. Then the safety car came onto the track again so that the Andretti could be recovered by Dennis.
The race continued on lap 18 - with Felix da Costa in the lead. Günther made up one position on compatriot Rast. Then various attack mode activations shuffled the ranking again. On lap 20, Evans led ahead of Cassidy, Felix da Costa and Vandoorne. Mortara meanwhile tangled with the ABT of Nico Müller and spun. This time, he pitted his Maserati for good. Müller also had to come into the pits.
Jaguar cars set off
Wehrlein, meanwhile, had already worked his way up to fifth place. However, he had used a good two percent more energy than his teammate Felix da Costa. The latter made a serious mistake on lap 25: He braked in turn 1 and had to shorten the chicane - in other words, come to a complete stop. As a result, he dropped back to position 7. Wehrlein was the last driver in the leading group to get his attack mode and fell behind his teammate accordingly. Porsche instructed him to stay behind Felix da Costa to make up his energy deficit. Cassidy was leading at the time, ahead of Evans and Vandoorne.
The race organizers extended the E-Prix by four laps, to a total of 35 laps. Wehrlein took his second attack mode, while Bird made up one place on Vergne. At the front, Evans continued to put pressure on Cassidy and finally overtook him on lap 30, with the leading duo pulling away slightly. Bird also overtook Vandoorne and took up the chase of his Jaguar teammate in third. Bird had an energy advantage of around two percent over his direct rivals at this point!
On lap 32, Evans took the lead again. Bird was happy about the duel in front of him because it made it even easier for him to catch up. Felix da Costa passed Vergne, who were both ahead of Vandoorne by now. Then the Porsche driver overtook Vergne as well and was back in fourth. However, it came down to a three-way battle for the win between the three Jaguar cars of Evans, Cassidy and Bird.
Heartbreaker final in Sau Paulo
In the final lap, Bird went all out again, but Cassidy didn't give up yet either. Evans, however, defended himself with the last reserves of energy and hard bandages and crossed the finish line just ahead of Cassidy! Just as close behind, Bird raced across the line in third! Felix da Costa finished fourth ahead of Vergne, Vandoorne and Wehrlein.
In the drivers' championship, the German extended his lead as main rival Dennis again came away empty-handed. Cassidy, Vergne and Felix da Costa are in positions 3 to 5, just behind Dennis. Among the teams, Porsche continues to lead the way. Second is Envision ahead of its manufacturer Jaguar, DS Penske and Andretti. The next Formula E race takes place in four weeks: On April 22 and 23, the electric series makes a guest appearance for two rounds of the season in Berlin-Tempelhof.