Photo: Zak Mauger/LAT/Formula E

Verge, Lotterer Deliver 1-2 Result for Techeetah in Santiago

By Aaron Bearden, Contributing Writer

Jean-Eric Vergne’s strong day ended with a near-perfect drive to the race victory in the Antofagasta Minerals Santiago E-Prix.

After starting on the pole, Vergne led wire-to-wire and fended off a host of late challenges from Techeetah teammate Andre Lotterer to score his first victory of Season Four in the ABB FIA Formula E Championship. The result was Vergne’s second-career triumph.

Looking for his first points in the all-electric series, Lotterer survived a few close calls with his teammate on failed passing attempts and crossed the start-finish line 1.154 seconds behind him in second to deliver Techeetah the first 1-2 result in Formula E history.

Season Two champion Sebastien Buemi followed in a close third to complete the podium.

After starting a distant 14th, points leader Felix Rosenqvist survived Lap 1 bedlam and maneuvered his way deftly through the field to salvage a fourth-place result that kept him in the championship fight.

Sam Bird followed in fifth with a bonus point for the Visa fastest lap, with Nelson Piquet Jr., Mitch Evans, Jerome d’Ambrosio, Antonio Felix da Costa and Nicolas Prost rounding out the top 10.

The 37-lap Chilean event started as many Formula E races do – with a bit of madness.

High temperatures combined with the tight, dusty and bumpy racing surface of the Parque Forestal Ciudad De Santiago left many drivers struggling to maneuver their machines from the moment lights went out to start the event.

Contact on the opening lap between Nick Heidfeld and Jose Maria Lopez left the first driver moving to a second car and the latter retired from the race outright, forcing an early safety car.

Maro Engel was lost on the same lap, nosing his machine into the outside barrier on corner exit later in the circuit.

Daniel Abt would be lost only 10 laps later when damage from the incident with Heidfeld forced him to a second car and, ultimately, out of the race on Lap 11.

Continuing a heartbreaking trend, defending champion Lucas di Grassi was driving his way through the 20-car field after enduring a 10-position grid penalty following qualifying when his No. 1 Audi Sport ABT Schaeffler machine lost power, eliminating the Brazilian from the race after 21 laps.

Heidfeld bowed out on Lap 23 after his second car ran out of energy. Alex Lynn followed suit three laps later when his No. 36 stalled on-track, leaving just 14 cars competing on-track.

The traditional set of mid-race car swaps proved interesting in Chile when they were held without a minimum pit stop time for the first time in the tour’s history, but the running order up front was ultimately unaltered.

With the laps winding down, the battle came down to Vergne and Lotterer for the win, with Buemi and Piquet dueling for the final position on the podium. Piquet ultimately sailed his No. 3 machine in too deep while attempting to overtake Buemi, going into the wall and losing three positions as he attempted to correct his car.

From there the run to the finish was essentially set.

The ABB Formula E paddock will return for the Mexico City E-Prix on March 3.

Santiago E-Prix Results

Position Car No. Driver Team
1 25 Jean-Eric Vergne Techeetah
2 18 Andre Lotterer Techeetah
3 9 Sebastien Buemi Renault e.dams
4 19 Felix Rosenqvist Mahindra Racing
5 2 Sam Bird DS Virgin Racing
6 3 Nelson Piquet Jr. Panasonic Jaguar Racing
7 20 Mitch Evans Panasonic Jaguar Racing
8 7 Jerome d’Ambrosio Dragon Racing
9 28 Antonio Felix da Costa AS&AD Andretti Formula E
10 8 Nicolas Prost Renault e.dams
11 27 Tom Blomqvist AS&AD Andretti Formula E
12 68 Luca Filippi NIO Formula E Team
13 4 Edoardo Mortara Venturi Formula E Team
14 16 Oliver Turvey NIO Formula E Team
15 (ret.) 36 Alex Lynn DS Virgin Racing
16 (ret.) 23 Nick Heidfeld Mahindra Racing
17 (ret.) 1 Lucas di Grassi Audi Sport ABT Schaeffler
18 (ret.) 66 Daniel Abt Audi Sport ABT Schaeffler
19 (ret.) 6 Jose Maria Lope Dragon Racing
20 (ret.) 5 Maro Engel Venturi Formula E Team

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Aaron Bearden is a Contributing Writer for Motorsports Tribune, handling coverage of both the Verizon IndyCar Series and ABB FIA Formula E Championship. A native Hoosier, Bearden has attended races at Indianapolis Motor Speedway since he was three years old. He can be found on social media at @AaronBearden93.