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Lucas di Grassi has won the first-ever FIA Formula E Championship race in Beijing after inheriting victory on the very final corner due to a spectacular collision between long-time leader Nicolas Prost and Nick Heidfeld.

Prost had led the race from pole position and was seemingly well on course to complete a lights-to-flag win having controlled the pace at the start and then extended his advantage further with a quick pit-stop.

However, it was during those stops - which feature a mandatory car change - that Heidfeld had leapfrogged to second, the experienced ex-F1 driver duly hunting down his rival in the closing stages to launch an attempt to pass at the final tight left-hander on the last lap.

With Heidfeld going for the inside, Prost appeared unprepared for the attack and moved to defend his position too late, culminating in the duo making front-end contact. Both cars sustained damage in the impact, but Heidfeld's Venturi car was sent sideways across the high kerb and pitched onto its side before slamming cockpit-first into the barriers and spiralling several times.

Coming to rest upside down, fortunately Heidfeld was able to extricate himself unaided, but both he and Prost - who are team-mates in the World Endurance Championship with Rebellion Racing - would be out on the spot with substantial damage having been on course for a certain 1-2.

Their exit would duly promote Audi Sport ABT's di Grassi into the lead and on to an unexpected victory, the Brazilian inheriting the honour as the first winner of a Formula E race.

Behind di Grassi, Franck Montagny arguably provided the race's entertainment, the Frenchman starting eighth after a penalty following qualifying, but planting several smart overtakes - including a tight one on his Andretti Autosport team-mate Charles Pic at the start - to jump to fourth, before rising to second at the expense of the incident ahead.

Though third across the line, di Grassi's team-mate Daniel Abt was penalised for an infringement and demoted back to tenth place, elevating Sam Bird to the podium for Virgin Racing, with Pic - who only confirmed his place on the grid on the eve of the Beijing ePrix - being classified in fourth.

Mahindra's Karun Chandhok completed the top five, ahead of Jerome d'Ambrosio, Oriol Servia, Nelson Piquet Jr, Stephane Sarrazin and the penalised Abt.

A new era for motorsport, though the element of energy conservation was aided by a slow paced five lap safety car period during the early stages, the race did see notable overtaking manoeuvres, while the car change format during the pit-stops would serve the purpose of shaking the order up.

However, it was a disappointing start to the season for some notable names, with Bruno Senna exiting on the first lap after damaging his car against Takuma Sato, while niggling issues saw Sato, Jarno Trulli and Ho-Pin Tung finish down and out.

Pre-season favourite Sebastien Buemi also endured a day to forget, the testing pace setter crashing twice during practice before losing bodywork in the race, forcing him to pit. Though he was able to gain a point for fastest lap, the Swiss driver wouldn't reach the chequered flag, concluding e.dams' frustrating day.

 

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