LONG BEACH, Calif. — Abt Schaeffler Audi Sport driver Lucas di Grassi passed DS Virgin Racing’s Sam Bird in Turn 5 for the win at the 2016 Faraday Future Long Beach ePrix. It was redemption for di Grassi who was disqualified in the Mexico City race last month.
“It was a great race, a great win after what happened in Mexico,” di Grassi explained. “A great response from the team. I think everybody is very happy. For me, it’s my very first win in the U.S. Long Beach has so much tradition so it’s very nice to be here. I hope to have more races in the U.S. There could be so many races here in many places. Not only Long Beach, but we could go so many places in the future.”
His teammate, Daniel Abt, finished in third place. “Today has been a great day,” Abt said. “After practice, I was already feeling very strong and qualifying was not that good. I was hoping for podium. I had a lot of help from the others. They did a lot of mistakes today. Somehow, I ended up third. I think for the team it’s been an amazing result. It’s very important that we have this kind of podium at this stage in the championship. We’re going to go to Europe really motivated.”
This was the second year the FIA Formula E race was held on the iconic Streets of Long Beach. An estimated 17,000 fans were on hand to see the race in person.
“It was a very good race for us,” said second place finisher Stephane Sarrazin. “It’s my first podium in Formula E. The team did a great job. I was looking forward to Long Beach because I saw races in Indycar and was pleased to come here. I like to race in the U.S. It’s a good track, very fast corners and I like the track.”
There were very few incidents in Sunday’s 41-lap, one-hour race. First, the brakes locked up Sam Bird’s second car (following his mid-race pit stop) sending him down the escape road. Then, Sebastien Buemi ran into Robins Frijns on the track’s famous hairpin turn.
“It was entertaining, a lot of speed and a couple of accidents,” said Todd and Alexis, race fans from Long Beach. “It was very cool and very different. I’ve never been to an electric race car experience before. I’m sure it’s great for parents and their kids. The start was very, very entertaining where they warmed up. It was a noise I’ve never heard before.”
Last year’s winner, Nelson Piquet Jr., crashed and wasn’t able to finish the race. He ended up dead last, in 18th position.
“It was our first Formula E and it was pretty exciting,” said Matt and Cleo, race fans from Mountain View, Calif. “It was more exciting than I thought it would be. I haven’t been to a lot of regular Formula One, but I thought it was super exciting. I didn’t feel like anything was missing, but it was my first experience.”
There were lots of activities to keep the little ones entertained in the eVillage.
“It’s pretty amazing, I love the new technology,” said Jesica and Daniel, attendees from Long Beach. “I think it’s a good way forward. Yeah, this one looks awesome, too. We’re not in the market to buy now, but definitely in the future. We’re here to check out the new designs from Faraday Future.”
Fans also had an opportunity to check out the latest plug-in electric vehicles like the BMW i8.
“It’s a beautiful car,” said attendee Tom Barile from Long Beach. “It feels a lot larger inside than it looks outside. It’s very comfortable, too. I’m not in the market right now, but someday. I like the idea of eRacing.”
Race sponsor Faraday Future showed off its futuristic one-seater concept vehicle called the FFZERO1. It’s an electric car that produces 1,000 horsepower. The FFZERO1 came straight from CES in Las Vegas.
“The interesting thing about the interior of the vehicle is that it’s a one-seat cockpit,” said Ezekel Wheeler, communications specialist at Faraday Future. “Obviously, if you are doing endurance racing or Formula E, it’s a single cockpit setup. What we’ve done with the chair is taken the zero gravity concept that NASA developed that reduces the pressure points across the body and it gives a sense of weightlessness. When you’re in the vehicle, it’s more about the comfort and focus on performance as supposed to sitting on your bum for too long.”
The FIA Formula E series heads to Paris, France for its 7th race of the season on April 23.