Jaguar’s Mitch Evans held off Nick Cassidy and team mate Sam Bird on the final lap to win a hectic Sao Paulo Eprix.
In a race filled with lead changes, Evans overtook Cassidy in the closing laps and then resisted the Envision driver’s attack over the final lap to win by two tenths of a second, with the top three covered by just over half a second at the chequered flag.
At the start, Stoffel Vandoorne leapt out into the lead from pole position with Antonio Felix da Costa holding off Mitch Evans for second place. There was carnage between turns two and three, with Norman Nato, Edoardo Mortara and Andre Lotterer all suffering heavy damage due to the pack compacting before the hairpin, however all three cars continued with Nato recovering to the pits.
On the second lap, Sebastien Buemi dropped to near the back of the field after colliding with Maximilian Guenther as they navigated the turn five-six chicane. Dan Ticktum missed the first chicane at the start of lap three, but came to a full stop on the escape road as per the race director’s instructions before rejoining the track.
At the start of lap five, leader Vandoorne opted to take the first of his four minutes of Attack Mode, surrendering first position to Da Costa but slotting into second ahead of Evans and Nick Cassidy’s Envision in fourth. After his minute expired, Vandoorne slipstreamed the Porsche down the pit straight to retake the lead into the chicane at the start of lap seven. Later in the lap, both Evans and Cassidy would also overtake Da Costa, demoting the Porsche down to fourth.
Sacha Fenestraz stopped his Nissan on the exit of the turn five-six chicane, prompting the Safety Car to be deployed while his car was recovered. The race resumed at the start of lap 12, with Vandoorne leading Evans and Cassidy away.
It became clear that leading the race was becoming a disadvantage for the leader, who had to use more energy than those behind who could coast in their slipstream. This resulted in some very strategic racing, as Da Costa moved his way back up to second place by passing Cassidy and then by the start of the second green flag lap, before Cassidy passed both Da Costa and Vandoorne on the pit straight to move into the lead. However, Cassidy then took his Attack Mode, dropping back to third, before using his extra power to move back into the lead mid way through lap 15.
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The Safety Car was deployed for a second time on lap 16 due to Jake Dennis – the driver sitting second in the championship – stopping on track after he was hit by Dan Ticktum’s Nio at the first chicane and suffering heavy rear damage. After an extended Safety Car period to allow for various pieces of debris to be cleared, the race restarted on lap 19 with Cassidy leading from Da Costa and Vandoorne third.
Cassidy and Vandoorne both took their final three minutes of Attack Mode, dropping to third and fifth, respectively, with Jean-Eric Vergne between them. Vergne soon allowed his team mate through, while Da Costa and Evans both took three minute Attack Mode at the start of the next lap, promoting Cassidy into the lead once more.
Evans was next to inherit the lead, but race control announced that both he and Da Costa were both under investigation for overtaking under yellow flags, with Rene Rast and championship leader Pascal Wehrlein also placed under scrutiny for the same offence. Evans was the last of the leaders to have a final minute of Attack Mode remaining, taking it on lap 24 to drop to second behind Cassidy.
Da Costa made a mistake at the first chicane and missed the corner entirely, dropping from third down to seventh place. Out front, the leaders were beginning to string out, with Cassidy sitting half a second in front of Evans and almost three seconds over Vandoorne in third. As the field began lap 30, Sam Bird moved Jaguar into second and third by passing Vandoorne’s DS Penske.
Four additional laps were added to the race due to the Safety Car periods. Starting lap 32, Evans pulled to the inside of Cassidy along the pit straight and claimed the lead into the first chicane. Cassidy then came under pressure from Bird behind, but managed to hold off the Jaguar’s advances.
Entering the final lap, Cassidy was now putting Evans under intense pressure for the lead. With both drivers holding only one percent of useable energy remaining, Bird used his energy advantage to catch up to the two leaders. Over a tense final lap, Evans absorbed Cassidy’s attacks and crossed the line to claim victory from Cassidy by just over two tenths of a second, with Bird coming home third half a second behind his team mate. Both Evans and Cassidy had used up all their useable energy coasting over the line, but successfully avoided exceeding their limit.
With Evans cleared of overtaking under yellow flags, his victory was confirmed. Behind the podium of Evans, Cassidy and Bird, Da Costa took fourth ahead of the two DS Penskes of Vergne and Vandoorne. Wehrlein finished seventh but remains under investigation, with the two McLarens of Jake Hughes and Rene Rast eighth and ninth. Despite early contact, Buemi claimed the final point in tenth.
Sao Paulo Eprix race results
|4||Antonio Felix da Costa||Porsche|
|6||Stoffel Vandoorne||DS Penske|
|13||Lucas di Grassi||Mahindra|
|17||Sergio Sette Camara||Nio|
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