Andretti Autosport Formula-E Team leaves Beijing in high spirits and top of the inaugural FIA Formula E Championship following a successful first ePrix in China, with a second-place podium finish for Franck Montagny and a fourth place from fellow countryman Charles Pic.
The one-day event, comprising of two practice sessions, split qualifying and a 25 lap race around the city street circuit made for an exhilarating spectacle in the world’s first all-electric racing series.
Michael Andretti, Team Owner at the American-based squad praised the series on its exciting debut: “Congratulations to Alejandro [Agag] on an event that was an overwhelming success. I’m very proud to be able to be a part of this exciting new series and to help shape the future of motorsport. Franck [Montagny] and Charles [Pic] did a great job and I’m happy to come away from the event leading the team championship.”
Things did not all go quite to plan however. After initially qualifying fifth, Montagny was handed a three place grid penalty for repeatedly crossing the white line on pit exit, demoting him to start the race from eighth place on the grid. This only spurred the 36 year old on to produce a fine start that saw both Andretti’s alongside one another as they narrowly avoided contact, before Montagny executed a brave move around Pic to claim position. From here he never looked back setting the early pace with another overtake, this time on Karun Chandhok for fifth.
A quick car change allowed him to jump Daniel Abt In the pits, before being gifted a place on the podium when Nico Prost and Nick Heidfeld came to blows on the last lap. Montagny was left delighted with the team’s showing and 18 points in the drivers’ championship:
“I would like to say thank you to the organisers of the Formula E series, because it really was a fantastic day. I have driven many different cars in many different series and I have to say that this is one of my best times in a car! The team has done a fantastic job, at testing and here in Beijing. Andretti Formula-E is an American team, based in Donington, UK, so it is not easy to start a team in a different country and everyone did very well. My teammate and I work well together and I had really, really good fun.”
A superb performance from team-mate Pic saw the Lotus F1 reserve driver pick up a solid points haul with a fourth place finish. Having worked his way up the order to cross the line fifth, Pic was promoted to fourth following a post-race penalty handed to Abt for failing to take a drive through.
The 24 year old was pleased despite only having limited running leading up to the event, he said: “It was a good race. I had an issue on the first lap and small contact with Franck (Montagny), but after that the pace in the race was okay. Considering I had one day of testing with the team, I am very happy with the result we had today. The pace was not as good as the winner and we need to work on that for the next races, but I think that we have made a very good start.”
Andretti will hope to continue their early momentum in the championship with another strong showing at Round 2 of the 2014/2015 Formula E season, which takes place on November 22nd in Malaysia, for the Putrajaya ePrix.