Audi Sport ABT’s Lucas di Grassi stole victory in the inaugural Formula E Evergrande Spring Beijing ePrix after Nicolas Prost and Nick Heidfeld crashed in a last corner battle for the lead.
Heidfeld walked away unscathed from a nasty looking incident after contact with Prost left him unable to control the car and flipped into the tyre barrier.
As the pair approached the final corner the Venturi driver dived up the inside in an attempt to the take the lead. The Frenchman moved left to defend and inevitably lead to their wheels colliding.
Heidfeld said: “I thought it was going to be a very big crash as well. Once I hit the kerb it felt like I was in the air forever. I closed my eyes and waited for the impact and then I thought ‘Oh that was lucky!’ I have a small pain in my calf but apart from that I’m perfectly fine.”
After clambering out from underneath the car Heidfeld, clearly aggravated, confronted Prost. However, di Grassi won’t complain as he picks up the full 25 points and with it takes the lead of the championship.
He said: “Firstly, I’m happy Nick [Heidfeld] is ok and it shows how safe these cars are. To win the race is like a dream come true. I was lucky to be in the right place at the right time. The team did a great job all through practice and qualifying, yes we made a few mistakes but overall I’m extremely happy to be the first ever winner of a Formula E race.”
Andretti driver Franck Montagny finished runner-up nearly three seconds adrift of di Grassi as the Brazilian’s team-mate Daniel Abt crossed the line in third place. On return to the pitlane Abt was handed a time penalty for exceeding the battery consumption. The German driver used 28.2kWh of the allocated 28kWh available.
Katherine Legge and Jaime Alguersuari were also penalised for being over the limit.
Virgin Racing’s Sam Bird was eventually promoted to claim the final place on the podium. Andretti’s new signing Charles Pic put on a strong display to finish fourth ahead of Karun Chandhok.
Mahindra team-mate Bruno Senna retired on the opening lap after being squeezed between the two Amlin Aguri cars. The Brazilian broke his left-front suspension and consequently brought out the Qualcomm Safety Car.
Despite topping four of the five pre-season tests, e.dams-Renault’s Sebastien Buemi failed to finished after retiring on lap 19.
Takuma Sato picked up two points for Amlin Aguri posting the fastest lap of a 1.45.101 in the final moments of the race.
After a dream start in the first ever Formula E race in Beijing, Lucas di Grassi begins his title assault on the Barcelona World Cup.
The next ePrix takes place in Putrajaya on November 22.