2018 Paris ePrix
|2018 Paris ePrix|
|Race 8 of 12 of the 2017–18 Formula E season|
Layout of the Paris Formula E street circuit
|Date||28 April 2018|
|Official name||2018 Qatar Airways Paris ePrix|
|Location||Circuit des Invalides, Les Invalides, Paris, France|
|Course length||1.93 km (1.20 mi)|
|Distance||49 laps, 94.598 km (58.781 mi)|
|Driver||Lucas di Grassi||Audi|
|Time||1:02.367 on lap 34|
The 2018 Paris ePrix (formally the 2018 Qatar Airways Paris ePrix) was a Formula E electric car race held before a crowd of 48,000 spectators at the Circuit des Invalides in the Les Invalides building complex on 28 April 2018. It was the eighth race of the 2017–18 Formula E season and the third edition of the event. The 49-lap race was won by Techeetah driver Jean-Éric Vergne after starting from the pole position. Lucas di Grassi finished second for Audi and Virgin driver Sam Bird placed third.
Vergne won the pole position by recording the fastest lap in qualifying and maintained his start line advantage heading into the first corner. Vergne kept the position for the next 23 laps as Bird had more electrical energy available. This allowed Bird to shorten Vergne's lead and unsuccessfully tried to overtake the latter. Through the pit stop phase for the mandatory change into a second car, di Grassi took over the first position for two laps after conserving electrical energy and Edoardo Mortara held it for the following lap. Vergne regained the position after the pit stops and was unchallenged for the final third of the race to clinch his third victory of the season after his teammate André Lotterer battled Bird and later di Grassi
The consequence of the final positions of the race extended Vergne's Drivers' Championship lead over Bird to 31 points and Felix Rosenqvist was still in third despite coming eighth. Sébastien Buemi kept fourth position while di Grassi's second-place result moved him from eighth to fifth. In the Teams' Championship, Techeetah increased their advantage over Virgin from 34 to 55 points. Audi's performance had them take over third from Mahindra with four races left in the season.
The 2018 Paris ePrix was confirmed as part of Formula E's 2017–18 series schedule in September 2017 by the FIA World Motor Sport Council. It was the eighth of twelve scheduled single-seater electric car races of the 2017–18 season, and the third edition of the event. The ePrix was held at the 1.930 km (1.199 mi) clockwise fourteen-turn Circuit des Invalides in the Les Invalides building complex of the city's 7th arrondissement on 28 April 2018. It was switched from May to April because organisers wanted less traffic around the area owing to the 2017 race being held outside of the French school holidays. Construction of the circuit took around six days with workers using 5,000 t (5,000,000 kg) of material shipped to the Port Gros-Caillou. Additionally, 1.5 km (0.93 mi) of road was resurfaced to create a smoother surface. Organisers of the race expected around 50,000 people in attendance.
Going into the race, Techeetah driver Jean-Éric Vergne led the Drivers' Championship with 119 points. Sam Bird of Virgin followed in second place with 101 points and Mahindra's Felix Rosenqvist stood in third with 82 points. Sébastien Buemi of the e.Dams-Renault team was fourth with 60 points and Audi driver Daniel Abt completed the top five with 50 points scored. In the Teams' Championship, Techeetah led with 152 points accrued; Virgin placed second with 118 points and Mahindra stood 15 points behind in the battle for the position. Audi (89 points) and Jaguar (88) contended for fourth place.
Bird had won the preceding Rome ePrix two weeks prior and narrowed Vergne's championship lead to 18 points. He spoke of his team's belief that they were closer than they previously had been in the title contest and aimed to capitalise on their current situation, "I won last time out so I'm feeling good. It's getting to crunch time now in the championship and thankfully I'm there and fighting for the world title this year." Vergne did not finish the 2017 edition of the Paris ePrix due to a suspension failure and spent the week leading into the race in Techeetah's simulator with his mechanics and looked forward to competing in his home city, "Having grown up in Paris, this race is extra special for me. I'm really looking forward to racing now and to meet all the French fans that have been an incredible support so far this season." The 2016 winner of the race Lucas di Grassi (Audi) was stimulated to continue achieving podium finishes and took a large amount of momentum from Rome as he was aware of his strong team and car package, "Now we need to perfectly nail everything down."
There was one change of driver heading into the event. Having been in one of the NIO cars since the season-opening Hong Kong ePrix double header, Luca Filippi was dropped for the race and replaced by the team's reserve and simulation driver Ma Qinghua. The change was necessitated following Filippi's poor performances throughout the season compared to teammate Oliver Turvey and the lack of significant results and internal pressure was applied to enable the entry of a Chinese driver once in the season. Ma thanked NIO for allowing him to drive and aimed to achieve the best possible result, "I am really looking forward to racing again, against some of the top drivers in the world. I will do my best to achieve the best result I can and I will see you all in Paris." Consequently, Ma missed the FIA World Rallycross Championship round at Montalegre.
Practice and qualifying
Two practice sessions—both on Saturday morning—were held before the late afternoon race. The first session ran for 45 minutes and the second lasted half an hour. An untimed half hour shakedown session was held late Friday afternoon to allow teams to check the reliability of their cars and electronic systems. Bird set the fastest lap late in the first practice session with a time of 1 minute and 1.698 seconds, followed by di Grassi, Abt, Mitch Evans (Jaguar), Vergne, Alex Lynn (Virgin), José María López (Dragon), António Félix da Costa (Andretti), Jérôme d'Ambrosio (Dragon) and André Lotterer (Techeetah). Two red flags were necessitated in a session where several drivers went off the track: Nelson Piquet Jr. (Jaguar) lost control of his car heading onto the start/finish straight, and deranged his front-right suspension by heavily impacting the turn fourteen barrier fifteen minutes in. Though Piquet was unhurt, the session was stopped for ten minutes and the safety car returned him to the pit lane as his car was extracted. The second stoppage came with fifteen minutes left when Rosenqvist clouted the kerb too hard driving through turn twelve, and lost control of his vehicle's rear by going airborne. He oversteered into an outside exit wall and broke his front-left suspension. Di Grassi used 200 kW (270 hp) of power to set the fastest lap at the end of second practice at 1 minute and 0.881 seconds. He was a tenth of a second faster than Vergne and Evans. Positions four through ten were occupied by Rosenqvist, Abt, Turvey, Bird, Piquet, Buemi and Lotterer. Though the session passed relatively smoothly, Piquet crashed for a second time by locking his tyres, lost control of his second car, and bent his front-left tyre in a collision with the long-right turn five barrier, stopping the session for about five minutes.
Saturday's afternoon qualifying session ran for an hour and was divided into four groups of five cars. Each group was determined by a lottery system and was permitted six minutes of on-track activity. All drivers were limited to two timed laps with one at maximum power. The fastest five overall competitors in the four groups participated in a "Super Pole" session with one driver on the track at any time going out in reverse order from fifth to first. Each of the five drivers was limited to one timed lap and the starting order for the ePrix was determined by the competitor's fastest times (Super Pole from first to fifth, and group qualifying from sixth to twentieth). The driver and team who recorded the fastest time were awarded three points towards their respective championships.
In the first group of five competitors, which had nobody venture onto the dusty track until midway through the session, Vergne set the fastest lap time of any driver in the group qualifying stages at 1 minute and 1.508 seconds. Bird was close behind in second with Buemi third. Rosenqvist and Abt had weak attempts that left them more than half a second off Vergne's pace and completed the first group's drivers. Lotterer paced the second group in which traffic was expected to impede others on a smaller scale and the track conditions were expected to improve but this proved not to be the case due to dust and debris accumulation. Second to fourth places were taken by di Grassi, Turvey and Evans. Piquet did not partake in qualifying because his two cars were being re-built after his two crashes in practice. Jaguar thus contravened Article 33.2 of Formula E's sporting regulations which obliges all teams to send their cars to parc fermé five minutes before qualifying. The stewards later granted Piquet dispensation to start the ePrix. In group three, Félix da Costa was fastest by setting a quick second sector and was followed by López in second. Nick Heidfeld (Mahindra) delayed his lap for as long as possible but he lost time in the final third of a lap and came third. Lynn and Edoardo Mortara (Venturi) struggled on the bumpy track surface and were the third group's slowest two competitors.
All five drivers of the fourth group ventured onto the track as soon as it commenced and had Maro Engel (Venturi) record the fastest lap in spite his first two sector times being off the pace of the fastest overall runners and stopped di Grassi from entering super pole. D'Ambrosio out-qualified teammate López for the first time in the season and was second-quickest in group four. Tom Blomqvist (Andretti), Nico Prost (e.Dams-Renault) and Ma were group four's slowest three drivers. At the end of the group stages, Vergne, Félix da Costa, Engel, Bird and Lotterer's lap times progressed them to super pole. Vergne (fined €1,000 for pit lane over-speeding during qualifying) was the last driver to set a lap and recorded overall best sector times to earn his fourth pole position of the season with a 1-minute and 1.144 seconds lap. He was joined on the grid's front row by Bird who was 0.277 seconds slower and held the pole until Vergne's lap in spite of glancing a wall on his attempt. Lotterer attained his highest qualifying performance in Formula E at the time with third after locking his tyres entering turn three. In his second super pole appearance, Engel also had his best career qualifying effort in fourth after losing momentum in the final sector. Fifth-placed Félix da Costa locked his tyres and ran wide at the exit of the third corner to not be in contention for pole position. After qualifying, Evans changed the gearbox in one of his cars and dropped ten places because he had taken up his "joker" change in Punta del Este. However, he could not serve the full penalty and was penalised five seconds during the mandatory change into his second car. Mortara incurred a three-place grid penalty for exceeding the 50 km/h (31 mph) speed limit under red flag conditions in the second practice session. The rest of the grid lined up after penalties as di Grassi, d'Ambrosio, Buemi, Turvey, López, Rosenqvist, Heidfeld, Prost, Abt, Lynn, Blomqvist, Ma, Piquet, Mortara and Evans.
Weather conditions at the start were dry but cloudy. The air temperature was between 15.55 and 15.84 °C (59.99 and 60.51 °F) and the track temperature ranged from 22.75 to 23.35 °C (72.95 to 74.03 °F). A special feature of Formula E is the "Fan Boost" feature, an additional 100 kilowatts (130 hp) of power to use in the driver's second car. The three drivers who were allowed to use the boost were determined by a fan vote. For the Paris race, Abt, Buemi and di Grassi were handed the extra power. When the race began before a crowd of 48,000 spectators at 16:03 Central European Summer Time (UTC+02:00), Vergne had a clean start to maintain his pole position advantage heading towards the opening corner. Lotterer made a brisk getaway to move past Bird but the latter regained second position as the two avoided an accident. Further back, di Grassi moved past Félix da Costa for fifth as the latter was slow off the grid and fell to seventh soon after. D'Ambrosio similarly had an unclean first lap and switched positions with his fast-starting teammate López. A problem with Ma's inverter meant he moved just a few metres off his grid slot and went several laps down on the leader.
At the turn nine hairpin, Evans attempted to move past Blomqvist with an aggressive manoeuvre and ended up ramming the back of Blomqvist's car. The resulting concertina effect caused Blomqvist to mount the rear of Prost's vehicle. The damage to Evans and Blomqvist's cars led to their entry into the pit lane for repairs and dropped them to the rear of the field. The consequence of Ma's stationary car and the Evans, Blomqvist and Prost incident led the race director to activate the full course yellow procedure so that debris could be cleared by marshals. Racing resumed on the second lap with Vergne retaining his lead. On the lap, Félix da Costa locked his brakes due to a software glitch that switched off his car when he applied his brakes and went onto the turn eight run-off area. He later returned to the pit lane to become the ePrix's first retiree. Abt passed d'Ambrosio by out-braking him around the outside into turn one to move into the top ten on lap four. Upfront, Vergne, Bird and Lotterer opened up a small advantage over Engel in fourth who was pressured by di Grassi and Buemi who conserved electrical energy.
Abt continued to move up the order with an overtake Rosenqvist around the outside for ninth at the start of lap eight and moved past López at the same area but around the inside the next time round. On lap 13, the black flags with an orange disc were waved for Prost which necessitated his entrance into the pit lane for a replacement front wing because the one mounted on his car was damaged by Blomqvist in the first lap accident. Turvey lost seventh to Abt on lap 16. Upfront, Bird had slightly more usable electrical energy than race leader Vergne and this enabled him to shorten the latter's advantage and replicate a duel from two years prior at the same track. Lotterer joined the battle soon after as he set at that point the fastest lap of the race at 1 minute and 3.073 seconds. However, on lap 22, Lotterer lost a small amount of time to Bird when he locked his tyres approaching turn eight. Lotterer narrowly avoided glancing a wall but later caught back up. With electrical energy running low on the next lap, Bird had one final try at moving past Vergne before the pit stops by out-braking him on the right entering turn one but locked his front tyres and turned left back onto the racing line.
Vergne, Bird and Lotterer were separated by half a second when they made their mandatory pit stops for the change into a second car at the end of lap 24. Di Grassi and Buemi's strategy enabled the duo to complete two more laps in first and second. Rosenqvist made a prior pit stop and was being lapped by the top two but did not yield to di Grassi which allowed Buemi to close the gap but could not overtake him. Mortara then led for one lap as a result of conserving the most electrical energy out of anybody as he sought to gain positions after his poor qualifying performance. After the pit stops, Vergne retained first place and extended his lead over Bird by more than a second and Lotterer kept third despite his pit stop being two seconds slower than the top two. Engel was demoted to fifth by di Grassi who had a faster pit stop and the latter fended off challenges from Engel upon rejoining the circuit. Abt began to duel Buemi for sixth on lap 30. Rosenqvist took ninth from López by squeezing between him and the turn ten inside wall on the lap. Rosenqvist then gained another position the lap after by overtaking Turvey through late braking on the outside line for eighth at turn one.
Meanwhile, di Grassi's electrical energy advantage allowed him to pull away from Engel who was pressured by Buemi and Abt and recorded the race's fastest lap on lap 34 at 1 minute and 2.367 seconds to earn one point. On lap 35, Lotterer had drawn close enough to Bird to affect an overtaking manoeuvre on him. Lotterer turned left and got past Bird entering turn ten but locked his tyres midway through as he missed his braking point. The two collided since Bird's path was blocked. Lotterer sustained rear wing damage but continued. This allowed di Grassi to close up and overtake Bird around the inside entering turn one the lap after. Entering the final ten laps, most drivers had 40% of electrical energy available which meant everyone had to use 4% for the rest of the ePrix due to the short length of the track but the possibility of some not reaching the end increased as Bird had just 22% to use with six laps left. On lap 41, a short yellow flag phase was prompted when López hit Mortara at turn ten and the latter drifted into a barrier but reversed to continue driving. Abt used his FanBoost to get ahead of Buemi around the inside on the run to turn one for sixth three laps later and then unsuccessfully attempted to pass Engel.
Lotterer and di Grassi drew closer to race leader Vergne as they distanced fourth-placed Bird in the closing laps. Di Grassi came close to passing Lotterer through turns eight and nine on lap 46 and the manner of Lotterer's defensive manoeuvres drew an angry response from di Grassi over the radio and both drivers lost momentum. On the final lap, Abt lost fifth to Buemi at the turn nine chicane in a manoeuvre that damaged Abt's sidepod and the latter narrowly avoided going into a wall. Abt stopped, steered 360 degrees and re-accelerated. This left him without enough electrical energy to cross the finish line at full racing speed and it shut down his car. Unchallenged in the final third of the race, Vergne extended his advantage to almost five seconds and slowed across the line with a small amount of electrical energy for his third victory of the season. Meanwhile, Lotterer ran out of electrical energy at turn nine and di Grassi took second from him. Bird sought a way past the slow Lotterer but he could not do so due to the tight nature of the circuit and rammed into the rear of his car. The crash scattered debris on the track, deranging Bird's front-left wheel, but he still came third while Lotterer's rear wing was cracked. Engel took his best career finish in fourth and positions five to ten were taken by Buemi, Lotterer, Abt. Rosenqvist, Turvey and López. Heidfeld, d'Ambrosio, Mortara, Lynn, Evans, Prost and Ma were the final classified finishers. Piquet was the ePrix's other retirement when he stopped with a loose seat belt on lap 32.
The top three drivers appeared on the podium to collect their trophies and spoke to the media in a later press conference. Vergne declared his victory as the "most emotional" of his career up to that point, "I can't find words, It's an incredible feeling, by far my best victory. If there was a race I wanted to win this year it was clearly Paris". He reserved praise for his team, thanked them for their work over the race meeting and affirmed they would continue to work hard for the remainder of the season. Second-placed di Grassi spoke of his happiness at another podium and maintaining his record of scoring points after repairs were made to his car for reliability purposes, "I had another good run today. It was a shame about qualifying, as I missed super pole by five-thousandths of a second and it was super tight." Bird complimented Vergne on the way he ran the race but stated his feeling that he was sometimes being put into the path of Lotterer, "If he could use him, I'm sure he would've liked to have used him to create a buffer as he is fighting me for the title currently."
The stewards adjudged Lotterer to have caused the final lap collision with Bird and he incurred a ten-place grid penalty for the Berlin ePrix but was not penalised for his lap 35 contact with the same driver. Bird was vocal in his criticism of Lotterer, disclosing to the press that the issue of moving under braking was discussed in the pre-race drivers briefing, and called for the consistent application of penalties, "That is not correct in any form of motorsport and I believe what we saw today was not correct. I had a bit of it in Punta [del Este] and it's too aggressive." Di Grassi said he saw no logic of Lotterer impeding him once his energy had been depleted and warned that such manoeuvres could become common in Formula E. He agreed with Bird's view and wanted the enforcement of improved competitor etiquette and urged the series's governing body, the Fédération Internationale de l'Automobile, to issue harsher penalties to competitors deemed to have inadequate driving standards. Lotterer dismissed the criticism towards him and targeted di Grassi in his comments, "I don't know, I was just racing. I don't know what he was complaining about. He actually drove into me twice in this race. I don't care what he says"
Engel scored eleven points prior to the Paris ePrix and stated his career-best fourth-place finish gave him the confidence to aim for the podium at Berlin, "We've always said that if we have a car that enables us to regularly be in top ten, and on good days, when everything comes together, we can fight for the top five, maybe even get on the podium. We had a good day in Paris. We were so close to the podium but we can be happy with P4." Audi team principal Allan McNish revealed that Abt declared his intention to overcome the narrow circuit in the team's pre-race briefing. Abt argued Buemi got too close to him on the final lap and stated his feeling he was overly defensive once past. Buemi countered this argument by suggesting Abt left him space to pass on the left. Piquet retired with a seat belt problem for the second successive race. He renewed criticism of Formula E's decision to discard the minimum pit stop time, suggesting the new regulation mandated other drivers to risk too much in shortening the amount of time spent in the pit lane and claimed those running in the top ten refitted their seat belts after the race, "It caused us to get the seatbelts loose at one point when I was adjusting them during the run. They got loose, they opened, and I had to stop."
The consequence of Vergne's victory increased his lead in the Drivers' Championship to 31 points over Bird. Rosenqvist now had 86 points and retained third position despite his eighth-place finish while Buemi kept fourth position with 70 points. Di Grassi's second-place finish moved him three positions from eighth to fifth with 58 points. In the Teams' Championship, Techeetah moved further ahead of Virgin by nineteen points. Audi's performance moved them to third position while Mahindra fell to fourth. Jaguar scored no points but retained fifth place with four races left in the season.
|5||28||António Félix da Costa||Andretti-BMW||1:02.805||+1.661||5|
|6||1||Lucas di Grassi||Audi||1:01.823||—||6|
|10||6||José María López||Dragon-Penske||1:01.902||+0.079||10|
|20||3||Nelson Piquet Jr.||Jaguar||—||—||18|
- ^1 — Mitch Evans dropped ten places for changing his gearbox in one of his cars.
- ^2 — Edoardo Mortara was demoted three positions for speeding under red flag conditions during second practice.
|2||1||Lucas di Grassi||Audi||49||+4.882||6||195|
|10||6||José María López||Dragon-Penske||49||+20.989||10||1|
|16||8||Nico Prost||e.Dams-Renault||48||+1 Lap||13|
|17||68||Ma Qinghua||NIO||46||+3 Laps||17|
|Ret||3||Nelson Piquet Jr.||Jaguar||32||Seat belt||18|
|Ret||28||António Félix da Costa||Andretti-BMW||2||Brakes||5|
Standings after the race
- Notes: Only the top five positions are included for both sets of standings.
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- Media related to 2018 Paris ePrix at Wikimedia Commons
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