Lucas Di Grassi boosts title bid with victory
Lucas di Grassi reignited his Formula E title bid with a measured victory in Long Beach to retake the points lead from Sebastien Buemi, who suffered a torrid race.
As di Grassi hounded poleman Sam Bird in the opening laps, Buemi worked on making up for a conservative qualifying session that left him starting seventh.
The Renault e.dams driver pulled a fine move on Daniel Abt into the final hairpin six laps in to take sixth, but his race unravelled at the same corner another half a dozen laps later.
Buemi misjudged an identical move on Robin Frijns for fifth, hit the rear of the Andretti Autosport driver and clambered over his rear wing.
It left Buemi sixth, back behind Abt, with front wing damage and dropped Frijns to eighth with the rear wing hanging off - and both drivers would shortly receive mechanical failure flags that ruined both their races.
A lap after that collision, things went from bad to worse for Buemi as di Grassi made his move for the lead with a daring dive inside Bird at Turn 5.
Bird remained close through the pitstops but then erred at Turn 5, locking up and nosing softly into the tyres.
He rejoined in seventh, regained a place when Nicolas Prost compounded a miserable day for Renault e.dams by serving a drive-through penalty for being 0.1s under the minimum pitstop time, but spent the remainder of the race behind Bruno Senna.
Di Grassi was left cruising to victory until a late safety car, required to deal with Nelson Piquet Jr's crashed NEXTEV TCR machine at Turn 1, gave him a three-lap sprint to manage at the end.
The Putrajaya winner did this with ease to complete the perfect response to the disappointment in Mexico City last time out, when he was stripped of victory post-race, and take a one-point championship lead.
Bird's mistake elevated the quietly excellent Stephane Sarrazin to second, which the Frenchman held with ease ahead of the second Abt Audi Sport car of Daniel Abt to earn Venturi's first podium of the season.
Behind the rostrum finishers, Mahindra drivers Nick Heidfeld and Senna kept out of trouble and managed their energy perfectly to run a lap longer than their rivals in the first stint and achieve the team's best result since the season opener in Beijing with fourth and fifth.
Dragon Racing duo Jerome d'Ambrosio and Loic Duval did not come close to replicating the team's inherited victory in Mexico but salvaged points from a tricky home event in seventh and eighth behind Bird.
Simona de Silvestro and Mike Conway grabbed their first Formula E points in ninth and 10th respectively, benefiting from Jean-Eric Vergne and Oliver Turvey slipping back late on.
The luckless Antonio Felix da Costa was on course for a top-eight finish from the back of the grid after being stripped of a stunning pole position, but retired late on in the pitlane.