(Reuters) – French driver Jean-Eric Vergne won an incident-packed race for DS Techeetah at the Sanya ePrix in China on Saturday to become the sixth different winner in as many races in the Formula E this season.
The Frenchman was investigated for breaching safety car regulations but was allowed to celebrate his victory, unlike Sam Bird who was slapped with a post-race penalty following his win in Hong Kong in the last race.
Nissan’s Oliver Rowland finished second while BMW Andretti’s Antonio Felix Da Costa was the third driver on the podium.
Rowland started on pole ahead of reigning champion Vergne in what was the first Formula E race at Sanya, with only two points separating the top four drivers going into the sixth race of the season.
Vergne took the lead with 21 minutes left on the clock with a daring overtaking manoeuvre by braking late and going past Rowland on the inside of a tight corner at turn 11.
Virgin Racing’s Bird, who was leading the championship, was out of the race in the opening lap after a clash with Stoffel Vandoorne of HWA Racelab, who also saw their other driver Gary Paffett retire early.
Nelson Piquet Jr’s race in the Jaguar was also ended when he collided with the wall.
The day got worse for British drivers after Alexander Sims was also forced to retire after his right rear tyre was damaged following a collision with the wall. It resulted in a red flag while his BMW was recovered from the track.
Robin Frijns collided with the back of Lucas di Grassi’s car at a hairpin on turn eight in a chaotic final minute of the race which resulted in a full-course yellow, allowing Vergne to take the chequered flag, less than two seconds ahead of Rowland.
Da Costa now leads the championship, with a three-point lead over Belgian Jerome d’Ambrosio. The next race of the season is the Rome ePrix in Italy on April 13.
(Reporting by Rohith Nair in Bengaluru; editing by Sudipto Ganguly)