23 Mar 19

Sanya Analysis: Champion bites back in China home race, rookie Rowland rules & di Grassi furious 

After a controversial and chaotic inaugural race on the streets of Sanya, it was home race heroes DS Techeetah and Jean-Eric Vergne who clinched a long-overdue first victory of the season here in Haitang Bay. "On the podium, listening to all the Chinese fans singing the national anthem, it wasn't something I was expecting - it was amazing!" said the reigning champion. 

With a new found lease of life, JEV shoots from 11th to third in the standings with 54 points to his name - eight point adrift of the new championship leader Antonio Felix da Costa (BMW i Andretti Motorsport). But it was Nissan e.dams' Oliver Rowland who stole the show with a sensational day, which saw him start on Pole and finish second behind JEV. With the voestalpine European races around the corner, kicking off in Rome on April 13, here's the very best of the showdown in Sanya. 

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JEV bites back in China 

"Before this race, I can't say I slept very well at night," laughed DS Techeetah's Jean-Eric Vergne, still clearly overcome with relief that his 'pointless' three race dry spell had come to an end. After his teammate Andre Lotterer came painfully close to clinching the first win of the season in Hong Kong, JEVs win in Techeetah's home territory will be extra special. 

"After Hong Kong, it was tough - three races and no points. You need to deliver, so I had to reset my mind and do a lot of work on myself to gain back the confidence. That's why I knew coming here that we'd done the job.

"On the podium, listening to all the Chinese fans singing the national anthem, it wasn't something I was expecting - it was amazing!" added the reigning champion. 

"I was never gone, really. I guess I had a bit of bad luck but I guess talent doesn't go away in a few months and that's what I had to tell myself. The moment you lose hope, you lose everything. You need to trust your team and trust yourself.

"Now, I just need to win more races," said the Frenchman with a wry smile. 

Rookie Rowland fights at the front

Despite missing out on pre-season testing, Nissan e.dams rookie driver Oliver Rowland has been quick to adapt to all-electric street racing. This season, the Yorkshire-born driver has fought at the front with the most experienced Formula E drivers, landing his maiden Pole here in Sanya followed by an admirable second place finish. "On one side happy and on the other a little bit disappointed," admitted the unlikely underdog.

"I had a good opportunity there - JEV did a good job - he surprised me and I knew he was going to surprise me at some point. I am of course very happy with the podium and it’s been a while -  I lost pole in Mexico and again I was leading in Hong Kong... it’s nice to score some points!" 

Now, Rowland leads his former champ teammate by one place and eight points in the standings, sitting just outside the top ten in 12th.

"It's just working - I'm happy, I'm in a good place with the team...I'm just happy that I can be here and fight.

"I'll go away and learn from this and come back better and stronger in Rome - the next step is to get a win."

 
oliver rowland formula e sanya
Nissan e.dams' rookie driver Oliver Rowland snatches a second place finish after securing his maiden Pole in Sanya.

Tight at the top 

With six races down, we've seen a grand total of six different winners take to the top step of the podium from six different teams. Welcome to Formula E - the most unpredictable championship on the planet. Now, with just four points separating the top four drivers in the standings and only 10 points separating the top six, the championship is more open than it's ever been before. Watch this space - anyone can win in this Formula.  

Di Grassi smash sparks furious fued with Frijns 

"You crashed into Buemi and you took my race!" said Audi Sport Abt Schaeffler driver Lucas di Grassi furiously as he first encountered Envision Virgin Racing's Robin Frijns moments after the race. 

"You crashed together and you took me out of the race - I hope you get a penalty," said the Brazilian. 

Just minutes from the end of the race, a three-car shunt between Nissan e.dams' Sebastien Buemi, Frijns and di Grassi ended the former champ's race, taking with it his chances of a critical sixth-place finish. 

"It's only knocked my back three places [in the standings] but it meant I lost eight points," said di Grassi. 

"I don't care who's fault it is - I think it's Robin and Buemi's fault - they crashed into each other and they crashed into me.

"I feel sh*t [about the race]

"Next time, I'll get away from Robin. There was nothing I could do to avoid that." ...read the full story below.