18 Mar 18

Analysis: the battle for Punta del Este

For Techeetah Formula E's frontman Jean-Eric Vergne, there's something special about South America.

After the Frenchman stole the show in Santiago, claiming the series' first-ever one-two win with teammate Andre Lotterer, Vergne claimed his second victory this season on Punta del Este's picturesque seafront in Uruguay. "I think I need a glass of vodka right now," said Vergne over the radio as he crossed the finish line, elated but exhausted from fending off an aggressive Lucas di Grassi (Audi Sport Abt Schaeffler), hungry for his first win of the season. "We have nothing to lose, so we can be as aggressive as we want," said di Grassi ahead of the race.

Despite the reigning champion's advances, Vergne stood strong. "I thought I could handle the pressure pretty well and today I proved that true," said Vergne. "For me to win the race today, I had to make absolutely zero mistakes. We both gained respect with each other today, knowing that we raced fairly - I could have done something bad to him and he could have done something bad to me too," he added.

Now with 109 points to his name, Vergne is 30 points clear of Mahindra Racing's Felix Rosenqvist, who holds on to second place in the standings despite missing out on the podium and finishing fifth. "When I look at Sebastien Buemi, he had a similar lead as me last year and he still lost the championship, so there is no relaxing and there are no days off - I will keep pushing everybody in the team very hard to keep on doing what we are doing," said Vergne. "Points and championships can be lost very easily but winning is not as easy. It is extremely close - the thing with Formula E is that you need to score points at every race. I may not be in a position to win another race this season because, as everyone saw, I don't have the fastest car."

While the celebrations continue at Techeetah, let's not forget about di Grassi, who finished up on the penultimate step of the podium. Before the race, the Brazilian had just three points after being plagued with reliability problems from the start of the season. In Mexico City, di Grassi managed his first clean race - free of any technical trouble - and here in Punta del Este, the Audi driver was inches away from victory. All things considered, that's not a bad turn around.

"It was a really tough race for me. The car was very fast and I'm super happy to be back on the podium after five races of not being on it," said di Grassi. "Of course, I'm going to fight for [the championship] but my target at the moment is to look at each race as a single event. We never give up." With di Grassi's second place, he now sits 10th in the standings - up nine places since the race in Mexico City - while his team remain sixth in the standings.

Finishing third was DS Virgin Racing's Sam Bird who - beyond his solid performance on track - dedicated his race to the late British motorsport journalist and broadcaster Henry Hope-Frost. "Britain lost an amazing journalist last week," said Bird emotionally, struggling to summon the words. "A man who brought so much energy and passion...and, while it's not a win - it's the best that I could do - I 'd like to dedicate this race to Henry Hope-Frost." For Bird, despite another podium in the bag, the Brit remains third in the standings, now 33 points behind Vergne but, crucially, only three points behind Mahinda's Felix Rosenqvist. As we move into the second half of the season, it's certainly getting tight at the top. Watch this space.

Just missing out on the podium was Panasonic Jaguar Racing's Mitch Evans who, despite finishing third in Super Pole, was bumped down the grid (to 16th) after the FIA found faults with the weight distribution in his car. Nonetheless, Evans battled his way through traffic to finish up fourth - jumping 12 places in total over the course of the race. "The race went pretty quick - I was so busy," said Evans. We were just outside of the podium, so I can't really complain. I think if we'd started from the front, or 3rd or in the top five, we could have won today. I wasn't expecting to make the progress I did and that's why I'm pretty confident that we could have had a win." Now with 41 points, Evans moves up to sixth in the standings, one place behind his teammate Nelson Piquet Jr, as the series moves to Europe. "I'm looking forward to Rome," said Evans. "it's the first time we're racing there - and hopefully we can get some champagne!"

With the halfway point in the season now well and truly crossed, we travel to Europe for the second half of the season. Kicking things off in Rome, it will be the first time the city plays host to the ABB FIA Formula E Championship as ten teams and 20 drivers battle it out on the streets of the EUR district on April 14 2018, to a sold-out crowd. Be sure to not miss out on the action. Click here to find out how to tune in where you are and here for our full calendar listing.

See below for the full list of race results from the 2018 CBMM Niobium Punta del Este E-Prix;

1 - Jean-Eric Vergne, TECHEETAH, 50:43.809s (28)
2 - Lucas di Grassi, Audi Sport ABT Schaeffler, +0.447s (18)
3 - Sam Bird, DS Virgin Racing, +2.611s (15)
4 - Mitch Evans, Panasonic Jaguar Racing, +4.075s (12)
5 - Felix Rosenqvist, Mahindra Racing, +4.224s (10)
6 - Alex Lynn, DS Virgin Racing, +7.672s (8)
7 - Oliver Turvey, NIO Formula E Team, +11.818s (6)
8 - Jose Maria Lopez, DRAGON, +12.612s (5)
9 - Jerome D’Ambrosio, DRAGON, +22.242s (2)
10 - Maro Engel, Venturi Formula E Team, +26.293s (1)
11 - Antonio Felix da Costa, Andretti Formula E, +27.335s
12 - Andre Lotterer, TECHEETAH, +38.731s
13 - Luca Filippi, NIO Formula E Team, +39.926s
14 - Daniel Abt, Audi Sport ABT Schaeffler, +43.139s
15 - Nico Prost, Renault e.dams, +47.194s
16 - Tom Blomqvist, Andretti Formula E, +59.299s
17 - Edoardo Mortara, Venturi Formula E Team, +1 Lap

DNF - Sebastien Buemi, Renault e.dams, 29 Laps
DNF - Nelson Piquet Jr, Panasonic Jaguar Racing, 25 Laps
DNF - Nick Heidfeld, Mahindra Racing, 1 Lap