Nelson Piquet Jr

Nelson Piquet Jr/No.99 China Racing Formula E Team took the lead before the Turn One chicane, and dominated the Long Beach Formula Electric Race. He temporarily lost the lead during his mandatory pit stop, but worked his way back to the front in short order.

It was Piquet Jr’s first FE win.

It’s been thirty-five years since Nelson Piquet won his first Formula One race at Long Beach. Young Piquet is of Brazilian heritage, born in Germany and speaks American like a Yank. The only advice Dad gave Son was touristy information on where to go and what to do in Long Beach, with the stress on the Queen Mary.

“It feels good. Our team deserves a win to keep up the motivation.” Regarding his Fan Boost, Piquet admitted that “Honestly, I ended up not using up my Fan Boost. I didn’t want to mess things up. I don’t know where we are in the points, but this helped our standing.” (ED Note – he is now second, one point adrift of first place.)

Piquet was very complimentary of Long Beach’s circuit with its storied history.

Second and third were Jean-Eric Vergne/No.27 Andretti Autosport Formula E Team and Lucas di Grassi/No.11 Audi Sport ABT.

Vergne said it was a “rock star kind of a day.”

Di Grassi “It’s an honor to be back in the lead of the Championship.”

Nelson Piquet Jr

Jean-Eric Vergne

Lucas di Grassi

The start of the race was just as predicted by Formula E Ambassador, Dario Franchitti. At least a third of the field tried to straighten out the Turn One chicane, going three-four abreast and on both sides of the kerbing. But, amazingly enough, it appeared that all got through, albeit not entirely unscathed.

Nelson Piquet Jr got past pole sitter Daniel Abt before the chicane on that first lap.

Scott Speed/No.28 Andretti Autosport Formula E Team hit the wall in the Turn One chicane on Lap Four, bringing out the tricked-out electric BMW Safety Car, which gets charged wirelessly. Speed was unhurt; his car was hoisted and towed.

Jarno Trulli fell afoul of the Queen’s Hairpin, the last corner before the front straight: he spun and stalled. Charles Pic/No.88 China Racing Formula E Team was under investigation for making an unsafe inside pass. This brought out the second Safety Car, soon after the first.

Sam Bird made his pit stop early on and retired on Lap 22. Bird turned the fastest race lap time of 59.241 seconds, on Lap 13, and held onto it for awhile after he retired.

Loic Duval/No.6 Dragon Racing turned the next fastest race lap on Lap 31; only to be pipped by Nicolas Prost/No.8 Team e.dams Renault on Lap 34 with a time of 58.973 seconds/130.1 kph/80.840 mph. That earned him two bonus points. Prost got a drive-through penalty for shunting Jerome di Ambrosio/No.7 Dragon Racing, and finished fourteenth.

Duval clipped Salvador Duran/No.77 Amlin Aguri Formula E Team, and Duran retired on Lap 27. Duval finished ninth.

Abt got a driver through penalty on lap 32 of the 39-lap race, for max power over use. This dropped him from third to fourteenth, and he ended up fifteenth – second to last finisher. Small comfort that he got three bonus points for starting first.

Several cars were under investigation during the race, including Trulli, Prost, Abt, and di Ambrosio; and Sebastien Buemi/No.9 Team e.dams Renault got a warning flag.

Jim Michaelian

Formula E officials estimated Saturday’s crowd at 23,000. The grandstands were full on the Start-Finish straight and very enthusiastic. Lots of people were seen all around the circuit, and the demographic appeared – to my untrained eye – to be different from the usual die-hard race crowd. There were lots of families with children of all ages. The whole day went well, overall, which led to big smiles on the face of Jim Michaelian, President of the Grand Prix of Long Beach Association.

The next round is on the historic streets of Monaco on 9 May 2015.

PROVISIONAL RESULTS of Long Beach Formula Electric Race
1-Nelson Piquet Jr
2-Jean-Eric Vergne
3-Lucas di Grassi
4-Sebastien Buemi
5-Bruno Senna
6-Jerome D’Ambrosio
7-Antonio Felix de Costa
8-Jame Alguersuari
9-Loic Duval
10-Stephane Sarrazin
11-Nick Heidfeld
12-Karun Chandhok
13-Vitantonio Liuzzi
14-Nicolas Prost
15-Daniel Abt
16-Charles Pic
Salvador Duran
Sam Bird
Jarno Trulli
Scott Speed

PROVISIONAL DRIVER STANDINGS after Long Beach Formula Electric Race
1-Lucas di Grassi-75
2-Nelson Piquet-74
3-Nicolas Prost-69
4-Sebastien Buemi-55
5-Sam Bird-52
6-Antonio Felix da Costa-43
7-Jerome D’Ambrosio-42
8-Jean-Eric Vergne-32
9-Jaime Alguersuari-30
10-Bruno Senna-22

Each driver is allowed to drop a score, keeping all but one of his best results.