FIA Formula E championship leader Jean-Eric Vergne held off sustained pressure from Mitch Evans to claim victory in a red-flagged Swiss E-Prix.

The Techeetah driver overcame an early red-flag period - caused by a hectic multi-car pile-up - a race-long duel with Evans, and a late rain shower to win a dramatic race.

Having controlled the initial race start prior to the red flag, Vergne maintained his lead at the Safety Car restart, with Evans shadowing closely behind.

The Frenchman resisted Evans and fended off multiple attacks from the Jaguar driver amid a late rain shower to score his third win of the 2018-19 season and enhance his title prospects by extending his championship advantage. 

Nissan’s Sebastien Buemi completed the podium with third place at his home race, narrowly ahead of the second Techeetah of Andre Lotterer and Envision Virgin Racing’s Sam Bird.

Dragon’s Maxi Gunther turned in a strong drive to take sixth, ahead of lead Audi driver Daniel Abt in seventh, Alex Lynn and Venturi’s Felipe Massa.

Championship hopeful Lucas di Grassi recovered into the points following a disastrous qualifying to round out the top 10, though the Audi driver has now slipped to third spot in the drivers’ standings.

First-lap pile-up causes red flag chaos

The race was only seconds old before being red-flagged when Pascal Wehrlein’s Mahindra was nudged into the barriers at Turn 1 by Buemi, causing a track blockage involving more than half of the field.

Behind the frontrunners, a second incident was unfolding as Jerome d’Ambrosio pilled into the back of Robin Frijns, sending the Envision Virgin Racing driver spinning into the barriers and out of the race, all but ending his championship hopes.

Remarkably, Frijns was the only retirement from the carnage, with a lengthy red flag period allowing for repair works to be carried out to the cars involved in the pile-up.

Following a 40-minute delay and passionate discussions about how the race order should be re-set, the race got underway again with the field lining up in the original starting positions behind the Safety Car as per the sporting regulations.

Article 40.3 of the regulations states: “in all cases the order will be taken at the last point at which it was possible to determine the position of all cars. All such cars will then be permitted to resume the race.”

Vergne now holds a 32-point championship lead over Techeetah teammate Andre Lotterer heading into the New York double-header finale in July, where Vergne will aim to become FE’s first two-time and back-to-back champion.

 

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