Lucas di Grassi took a dramatic final corner victory after Pascal Wehrlein’s Mahindra ran out of power on the final corner of the race, as did Oliver Rowland’s Nissan e.dams which had been running in third.
It had looked as if Wehrlein would secure a maiden win in the series after leading the entire race from pole, only for his energy to hit zero as he rounded the final corner.
It left Antonio Felix da Costa to inherit second and Edoardo Mortara third as Wehrlein’s stricken car limped home sixth, both Nissans forced to retire with third and fourth seemingly in the bag.
“What a mighty race,” screamed a jubilant di Grassi after his last gasp win. “I have never had such adrenaline. Woooooah!”
“I think today was my best Formula E race ever,” added di Grassi after jumping from his car. “It was unbelievable, Wehrlein was very dodgy closing the door and changing direction many times so I tried to put pressure on him and make him use more energy and then in the last corner he slowed down and tried to close the door and I crossed the line sideways. It’s unbelievable.”
A big early accident involving Nelson Piquet caused the race to be red-flagged only two laps in, his Jaguar getting airborne after hitting the back of Jean-Eric Vergne’s Techeetah before plowing through the chicane and destroying the front of his car.
When the dust settled and racing resumed in earnest after a break of almost half an hour, Wehrlein maintained his lead as the majority of the field opted to utilize ‘Attack Mode’ to make up ground.
WHAT JUST HAPPENED!? 😱@LucasdiGrassi wins the 2019 CBMM Niobium #MexicoCityEPrix #ABBFormulaE pic.twitter.com/oGgXHlb3pS
— ABB Formula E (@FIAFormulaE) February 16, 2019
Some drivers, including Buemi, jumped on the Attack Mode too early behind the safety car, limiting the time of use. Only some brilliant defensive driving allowed the Swiss to hold position from a charging Da Costa on Attack Mode power.
On a circuit where passing is notoriously difficult, di Grassi almost forced his way past Rowland utilizing his extra 25kW of Fan Boost power. But it was Rowland who made the mistake, losing a place whilst running wide to activate Attack Mode and challenge for the race victory.
It led to a frantic nose to tail race to the flag between Wehrlein and di Grassi in the closing laps and that’s the way it looked likely to finish before the late, late drama.
England’s Sam Bird recovered to ninth having started from the back of the grid after a driveshaft problem forced him to sit out qualifying. But it now means that Jerome d’Ambrosio retakes the lead in the drivers’ standings after his fourth-place finish with da Costa leapfrogging Bird to second by a single point and di Grassi fourth ahead of Wehrlein.
NIO Formula E Team, partnered by Acronis, arrived at the circuit with high expectations after Oliver Turvey’s second place finish last year and the Brit again qualified in the top ten.
But there would be no successive points finishes in Mexico, Turvey and teammate Tom Dillmann finishing down the field in 12th and 15th respectively.
“We were quite competitive in first practice and we have made some positive steps forwards,” said Turvey, who finished second in Mexico last year. “Unfortunately qualifying was so close, we were only a couple of tenths away from Superpole and ended up P10.
“The start of the race was tricky, I think we were just in the wrong place which was unfortunate. I was trying to hold position and fight for points but I struggled to hold on and manage the energy, so we had to settle for P12 in the end.”
Legge leads home Rahal Letterman Lanigan Racing 1-2 in Jaguar I-Pace eTrophy
For another Acronis partner team, however, there was major cause for celebration earlier in the day as Katherine Legge became the first woman to win a professional electric car race, leading home teammate Bryan Sellers for a Rahal Letterman Lanigan Racing 1-2 in the Jaguar I-PACE eTrophy.
.@katherinelegge won the #Jaguar #IPACE #eTROPHY #MexicoCityEPrix!!!
And just became the first woman to win a professional electric car race. 🙌🏻 pic.twitter.com/equfgHYnpd
— Rahal Letterman Lanigan Racing (@RLLracing) February 16, 2019
By winning in Mexico City, Legge also takes the lead in the Pro Drivers’ Championship with a one-point advantage over Simon Evans.
Racing resumes in both the Jaguar I-PACE eTrophy and ABB FIA Formula E Championship in Hong Kong on March 10.
Top image: Lucas Di Grassi of Audi Sport ABT Schaeffler during the Mexico City E-Prix at Autodromo Hermanos Rodriguez, Mexico. © Sam Bagnall / LAT Images.