Formula E falls in love with Paris as Lucas di Grassi wins landmark race

Story highlights

Paris street circuit hosts ePrix for first time

Lucas di Grassi wins 45-lap race

Formula E event was a 20,000 sell-out

Paris, France CNN  — 

Paris has plenty of world-famous landmarks but it can now add a Formula E race to its list of attractions.

The first Paris ePrix electrified the chic surrounds of the seventh arrondissement, home to the Eiffel Tower and Hotel de Invalides, Saturday.

A sell-out crowd of 20,000 came to watch the newest addition to the global championship for electric cars – the series organizers said they could easily have sold more tickets.

In front of the packed grandstands, Lucas di Grassi made a quick getaway to win the Paris street race and extend his championship lead to 11 points.

“The atmosphere here in Paris is amazing,” said the Brazilian, who drives for the German Abt Schaeffler team. “Even people in houses were opening their windows to cheer me!

“It’s so special to win the race here. We are all sharing a moment in motorsport history.”

The enthusiastic crowd unfurled a scattering of tricolor to celebrate a runners-up spot for Jean-Eric Vergne, who was born in the Parisian suburb of Pontoise.

“It’s an amazing podium and something really special for me,” said Vergne, who gained ground on his DS Virgin Racing teammate Sam Bird at the start.

Sebastien Buemi, driving for French car giant Renault, muscled his way through the pack to finish third after starting the race in eighth.

It was a race of recovery for the Swiss driver, who said he had struggled to warm up the Renault car in qualifying because of the cool track conditions.

His Renault teammate Nicolas Prost collected fourth place ahead of French compatriot Stefan Sarrazin. The fourth Frenchman in the field, Loic Duval, unfortunately saw his Dragon Racing car grind to a halt early on.

All in all it was a very good day for France, which is credited as the father of motorsport after staging the first motor race in the 1890s.

France is also on high alert after the Paris terror attacks last November and there was strict security at the temporary street circuit.

“I’m extremely proud to be a Parisian,” added Vergne. “It’s easy to forget the recent difficult times in France and Brussels. It’s something incredible to show the strength of the city.”

The Formula E community moves on to Berlin for the next race on 21 May but the love affair with Paris looks set to continue until next year.

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01:04 - Source: CNN