On a spectacular stage, Jean-Éric Vergne (DS PENSKE) showed his experience to withstand pressure from his rivals and win an extraordinary first race of the ABB FIA Formula E World Championship in India.
Vergne fought hard in the final third of the race to stay ahead of Envision Racing pair Nick Cassidy and Sébastien Buemi, although António Félix da Costa (TAG Heuer Porsche Formula E Team) eventually took third place after the Swiss was penalized after the race.
It was Vergne’s first trip to the top step of the Formula E podium since Rome in April 2021 (season 7) and he did it in style. The Frenchman made his way to the front of the pack on lap 15 of 32 (plus one lap after a safety car), the double champion overtaking Buemi at the hairpin after the Jaguar TCS Racing pair took each other out of the equation two laps earlier.
During that incident, Sam Bird made a lunge on the forbidden side of the track on fourth-placed Sacha Fenestraz (Nissan Formula E Team). The Briton was unable to slow his I-TYPE 6 in time and collided with teammate Mitch Evans, who was third at the time, causing the Kiwi’s car to spin.
Both Jaguars were eventually forced to retire and the unfortunate Fenestraz also fell down the order in a race where a podium double looked a possibility for Jaguar.
Held the Lead
Vergne led the way, but late in the contest had his mirrors full of Cassidy’s Envision Racing machine as the checkered flag approached.
The New Zealander had managed to accumulate an additional four percentage points of usable energy on Vergne in the closing stages of the race. However, Vergne is considered a consummate Formula E fighter and used all.his weapons to hold off Cassidy and cross the line first in what many will consider one of his best wins and one that will remain in the memory for a long time in Formula.
Buemi continued home in third place, but an overtaking infringement saw him demoted to 15th through a 17-second penalty, equivalent to a drive-through.
That promoted TAG Heuer Porsche’s António Félix da Costa to the podium in his 100th race, the Season 6 champion having started the race in 13th. Teammate Pascal Wehrlein crossed the line in fourth place after working his way up from 12th on the grid.
“I’m very very happy. It was a tough race. I had to defend quite a bit at the end, but somehow we managed to win it. It was a clean race, no mistakes. Very happy with today’s victory,” said Vergne after taking the win.
“I like the new tracks, I think it’s great. Especially this one, it’s a lot of fun. When there are a lot of little secrets to find on the track, I probably find them fast enough,” concluded the Frenchman.