Daniel Abt took a dramatic win on his 25th birthday in Hong Kong today when Edoardo Mortara presented him with a surprise Formula E present with three laps to go, spinning at Turn 2 to throw away a comfortable lead.
Formula E rookie Mortara looked in line to take a surprise but richly-merited victory after a largely-dominant display in the second Hong Kong E-Prix of the weekend on Sunday.
Mortara took the lead on Lap 2 when polesitter Felix Rosenqvist half-spun at the first chicane, after the race had started behind the safety car following an apparent starting lights failure.
The Swede left his braking too late and half-spun his Mahindra M4ELECTRO and re-joined halfway down the field.
Mortara was able to stretch out a gap at the front of the field as the first phase of the race wore on. Showing remarkable efficiency on energy usage, the Venturi VM200-FE was able to enter the pits for the mandatory car-swap 3.5 seconds ahead of Abt’s Audi e-tron FE04.
Mortara emerged with a similar lead and was able to again stretch his advantage and looked set to give Venturi its first ever FIA Formula E victory.
However, a spin at Turn 2 with three laps to go handed Abt the victory, marking the young German’s maiden win in Formula E.
Abt was initially unable to challenge Mortara in the second phase of the race, but then started to erode Mortara’s gap before further chipping away at it by applying his FanBoost in the final stages.
Rosenqvist recovered from his first corner error and salvaged some pride in hustling his Mahindra back into second position.
The Swede headed home the recovering Mortara who came home a dejected third after leading all but two of the 45 laps.
Mitch Evans looked to be in line to grab Jaguar’s first podium but the Kiwi lost four seconds in the pit stop and dropped behind Rosenqvist. Evans equalled his best ever Formula E result with fourth after the recovering Mortara was just able to get back on-track in front of the Jaguar.
He came under significant pressure DS Virgin’s Alex Lynn, who was more frugal on his energy in the second portion of the 45 lap race. The British driver was unable to find a way past the Jaguar, though, and eventually slowed in the final laps to 10th.
Jean-Eric Vergne took fifth as he won out in a battle against DS Virgin’s Sam Bird which raged for most of the final laps.
Oliver Turvey, meanwhile, finished seventh in his NIO ahead of Maro Engel’s Venturi. Nicolas Prost took ninth for Renault ahead of Lynn who closed out the points.
Reigning champion Lucas di Grassi had another race to forget as he again finished outside the points after stopping momentarily just before his scheduled stop.
The frustration was doubled for the Brazilian as he had gone an extra lap longer on his first stint and was in line to make up positions before his issue struck, leaving him 15th at the checkered flag.
Sebastien Buemi made some progress from the rear of the grid after his qualifying error but ultimately he finished just outside of the points in 11th position.
The next round of the FIA Formula E Championship takes place at Marrakesh on Jan. 13.