Jean-Eric Vergne held off momentous pressure from Lucas di Grassi throughout the Punta del Este E-Prix to take his third ABB FIA Formula E Championship victory on Saturday afternoon.
Vergne extended his championship lead to 30 points after adding the maximum race score to the three points he was handed after qualifying penalties promoted him to pole position.
The Techeetah driver crossed the line just 0.4 seconds ahead of di Grassi who tried desperately to find a way past the Frenchman in the final laps which included multiple contacts between the pair.
Vergne led the first phase of the race but di Grassi was never more than a second away from the rear of the Techeetah Renault Z.E 17.
Di Grassi applied significant pressure as the pit stops approached but was still unable to find a way past Vergne.
The pair returned to the race after the pit stops, again nose-to-tail, and di Grassi saw an opportunity on the out lap but was robustly repelled by Vergne. The resulting slide by the Audi driver lost him almost two seconds.
Di Grassi though soon responded and reeled Vergne back in to begin another cat and mouse fight for the remainder of the race.
The battle intensified in the final ten laps but was joined by Sam Bird’s DS Virgin car as the British driver surged through from ninth on the grid after a difficult qualifying.
The Briton though was denied a chance to challenge the leading pair as he managed his temperature and energy on the last lap and had to settle for the bottom rung of the podium.
Mitch Evans reprised his heroic Santiago E-Prix drive by cutting through the field from 15th position on the grid to claim fourth place by flagfall.
The Panasonic Jaguar Racing driver executed the overtaking move of the race by taking Alex Lynn around the outside of Turn 13.
Lynn dropped back to sixth behind Mahindra Racing’s Felix Rosenqvist who fought through from 12th on the grid to consolidate his second position in the standings.
Oliver Turvey initially ran fourth but faded during the race and came home seventh to score his second consecutive points finish.
Jose Maria Lopez executed one of the drives of the race as he came through from 18th on the grid to eighth. The Argentinian also set the fastest lap of the race.
Lopez headed home teammate Jerome d’Ambrosio and Maro Engel claimed the final point for Venturi.
Two-time winner Sebastien Buemi was effectively ruled out of contention on lap 11 when he glanced the wall damaging the rear suspension causing him to pit and switch cars.
Despite staying on the lead lap, the Season Two champion was destined to park his Renault after running out of energy in the closing stages.
Nick Heidfeld caused the only safety car period of the race after stopping on track continuing his poor run of results.
Other drivers compromised by issues were Nelson Piquet Jr. who had an early race driveshaft problem and some contact, and also Edoardo Mortara who dropped out of contention after technical problems.
Daniel Abt’s race was spoiled when he had to pit from third position after his pit stop due to his safety belts not being correctly secured.
RESULTS: Punta del Este E-Prix