Jean-Eric Vergne secured a much-needed victory in Sanya on home soil for the Chinese DS TECHEETAH team, vaulting the reigning champion to third in the standings and reigniting his title defence. Without a point to his name in the previous three races, Vergne’s championship aspirations were at a crossroads coming to Sanya. However, such is the close competition of the ABB FIA Formula E Championship, the win jumps Vergne up the order to sit only eight points adrift of Antonio Felix da Costa. Not only is it a sixth victory for Vergne in Formula E, the result sees a sixth different driver standing on the top step in as many races – still without a repeat winner this season.
Vergne started on the front row alongside Oliver Rowland, who lined-up in Julius Baer pole position for Nissan e.dams. With the leading pack running nose-to-tail in the early stages of the race, Vergne made his move at just over half race distance – catching Rowland unawares up the inside of the tight left-hander at Turn 11. From there Vergne maintained position and held on to victory, despite a late scare for not respecting the safety car procedure resulting in a reprimand. Vergne also collected a point for fastest lap, which puts him tied on points with Envision Virgin Racing’s Sam Bird – who failed to score after a coming together with Stoffel Vandoorne on the opening lap.
Rowland crossed the line in second place – disappointed to miss out on a maiden victory in Formula E, but earning a first podium finish for the Nissan e.dams outfit after squandering a number of chances in Santiago, Mexico City and Hong Kong. The podium positions were rounded-out by Da Costa who held station in third, moving the BMW i Andretti Motorsport driver back to the top of the standings after another large haul of points.
Vergne’s team-mate Andre Lotterer added to DS TECHEETAH’s tally in fourth – avoiding damage after a scuffle with Alexander Sims. Although, Sims wasn’t so fortunate after stopping on track with suspension damage and bringing out the red flags. After a short delay in the pitlane the race got back underway with 12-minutes left on the countdown clock.
Daniel Abt was the highest-ranked Audi Sport ABT Schaeffler driver in fifth, with Sebastien Buemi bouncing back to sixth after starting in the pitlane following issues in qualifying – later dropping to ninth for causing a collision with Robin Frijns. Approaching the halfway mark of the season, the top-six drivers are only separated by 10 points. It’s wide open in the title race as the series heads to Rome for the start of the voestalpine European races on April 13 – round seven of the ABB FIA Formula E Championship.