Jean-Eric Vergne has sealed the Formula E title with a day to spare despite starting rear of grid in the first race of the New York City double-header.
Vergne and Techeetah team-mate Andre Lotterer were put to the back of the field for a technical infringement during qualifying but the Frenchman raced through to finish fifth.
Lucas di Grassi won the race in an Audi Sport one-two while Sam Bird’s (DS Virgin) championship hopes were extinguished when he took ninth position.
Sebastien Buemi (Renault e.dams) started from pole and led the field away while fellow front row starter Mitch Evans’ Panasonic Jaguar appeared to suffer a driveshaft failure at the start line.
Daniel Abt made early progress from fifth on the grid and overtook Buemi for the lead on Lap 6.
Vergne, who would have been on pole but for exceeding maximum allowed power during group qualifying, broke into the top half of the field when he got by Bird on Lap 16.
Di Grassi had in fact started 11th but made a steady climb to sit third on Lap 15, then passed Buemi on Lap 20.
The Brazilian gained ground on team-mate Abt through the pit stop cycle and they touched on Lap 24 before he took over the race lead at Turn 11.
Abt tried initially to regain the position but couldn’t find a way, while Vergne made the critical move for fifth when he got by Lotterer on Lap 29.
Alex Lynn (DS Virgin) brought about a Safety Car when he clouted the wall at Turn 5 on Lap 34, setting up a four-lap dash to the chequered flag.
— ABB Formula E (@FIAFormulaE) July 14, 2018
Di Grassi ultimately took victory by just under a second, from Abt and Buemi, who held third for the latter half of what ended up being a 43-lap race.
Tom Dillman (Venturi) finished fourth, one position ahead of Vergne, with the top 10 rounded out by Nick Heidfeld (Mahindra), Lotterer, Maro Engel (Venturi), Bird, and Nico Prost (Renault e.dams).
Oliver Turvey was a non-starter after breaking a finger in a practice crash and will be replaced at NIO by Ma Qing Hua for the next race.
Audi Sport’s strong performance puts the squad just five points behind Techeetah in the teams’ championship, which will be decided when the season finale takes place on Monday morning (AEST).
Race results: Race 11, New York City
|1||1||Lucas di Grassi||Audi Sport ABT Schaeffler||1:02:30.054 (43 laps)|
|2||66||Daniel Abt||Audi Sport ABT Schaeffler||+0.965|
|3||9||Sébastien Buemi||Renault e.dams||+2.583|
|4||4||Tom Dillman||Venturi Formula E Team||+4.090|
|6||23||Nick Heidfeld||Mahindra Racing||+5.142|
|8||5||Maro Engel||Venturi Formula E Team||+6.312|
|9||2||Sam Bird||DS Virgin Racing||+6.833|
|10||8||Nico Prost||Renault e.dams||+8.389|
|11||28||António Félix da Costa||MS&AD Andretti Formula E||+9.114|
|12||27||Stéphane Sarrazin||MS&AD Andretti Formula E||+13.242|
|13||7||Jérôme d’Ambrosio||Dragon Racing||+13.805|
|14||19||Felix Rosenqvist||Mahindra Racing||+35.452|
|15||68||Luca Filippi||NIO Formula E Team||+1 Lap|
|DNF||36||Alex Lynn||DS Virgin Racing|
|DNF||6||José María López||Dragon Racing|
|DNF||3||Nelson Piquet Jnr||Panasonic Jaguar Racing|
|DNF||20||Mitch Evans||Panasonic Jaguar Racing|
|3||Lucas di Grassi||126|
|10||Nelson Piquet Jr.||45|
|15||António Félix da Costa||20|
|17||José María López||14|
|24||Ma Qing Hua||0|