Jean-Eric Vergne wins the Santiago ePrix

Jean-Eric Vergne wins the Santiago ePrix

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Jean-Eric Vergne

Jean-Eric Vergne won the Santiago ePrix. He led the first 1-2 victory for the Techeetah team while the first four drivers in the race finished in less than 3 seconds from one another.

Jean-Eric Vergne wins the Santiago ePrix

Jean-Eric Vergne fended off his team-mate Andre Lotterer in a tense fight around the streets of Santiago to claim his second victory in Formula E and the first one-two in the history of the electric street racing series

The pair exchanged blows in the closing stages of the race with a gaggle of cars waiting behind to pounce, ensuring a nail-biting finish to the inaugural E-Prix in the Chilean capital.

Vergne led away from Julius Baer pole position with a number of cars making moves behind. Lotterer jumped Sebastien Buemi off the line to move into second place. Then Panasonic Jaguar Racing driver Nelson Piquet Jr. caught them both unaware with a bold late-braking move around the outside of the first corner.

As the field streamed through the opening section, the squeeze came in the mid-field. Jose Maria Lopez ran out of road in close proximity with Sam Bird and hit the wall on the outside of Turn 2.

The Qualcomm safety car was deployed to clear both Lopez and the stricken Venturi of Maro Engel who went into the barriers at Turn 7. Piquet looked to have lost out on the restart, but piled the pressure on Vergne with a move for the lead only a few corners later.

Vergne placed his car well and held off a fast-charging Piquet despite a bump from behind, which wouldn’t be the only close-call in his wing mirrors for the remainder of the race.

Approaching the pit-stop phase, Vergne started to extend his lead to over three seconds

Piquet fell into the grasps of Lotterer. The German scythed his way into second place past Piquet and set his sights on his team-mate.

Lotterer slowly reeled in Vergne moving into his slipstream and drew alongside into the main overtaking point at Turn 1. Both drivers came perilously close to exchanging paintwork, but Vergne held his nerve and forced Lotterer to retreat.

However, Lotterer hadn’t thrown in the towel yet and tried to mirror the move again. This time he misjudged his braking and hit the back of Vergne. Smoke poured from Vergne’s wheels as his teammate was pushing him from behind.

Both cars managed to avoid the wall. It marks the first victory for Vergne since the season-finale in Montreal last year, which was also his first in Formula E.

Joining the two TECHEETAH drivers on the podium was Sebastien Buemi

Buemi slipped backwards on the long run down into the first corner and struggled to match the pace of his rivals in the early phase of the race.

Buemi and Bird re-enacted their close duel in Marrakesh in the battle for fourth place, with the DS Virgin Racing driver hounding the back of his gearbox. The group held station until the mid-race car swaps, which saw Rosenqvist leap up the order ahead of Bird – allowing Buemi to focus on Piquet and surpass his fellow champion to secure a spot on the podium.

Rosenqvist started way back in 14th after a dismal qualifying session. But he salvaged points in fourth place.

Bird picked-up the additional point for Visa fastest lap and took the chequered flag in fifth after a slow pit-stop and benefitting from Piquet’s late lunge on Buemi into Turn 1. Piquet looked to re-take the position he lost earlier. But he locked his brakes and ended up losing time reversing out of the run-off area.

Piquet’s team-mate Mitch Evans followed close behind in seventh. Jerome D’Ambrosio, Antonio Felix da Costa and Nico Prost rounded out the top 10 points-paying positions.

The next stop on the Formula E calendar sees the series return to Autodromo Hermanos Rodriguez for the third edition of the Mexico City E-Prix for round five of the ABB FIA Formula E Championship on March 3.

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