Sébastien Buemi has won the Punta del Este ePrix, withstanding an intense battle with Jean-Éric Vergne that was only resolved when the Frenchman’s sensational debut race came to an end when he suffered broken suspension with two laps to run.
Pre-race, pole sitter Vergne, along with Nick Heidfeld and Salvador Durán were awarded the FanBoost, while Bruno Senna’s Mahindra was moved to the back of the grid as a penalty for having mechanics working on his car within five minutes of the start of his qualifying session.
Nelson Piquet Jr, starting from second, won the start and passed Vergne into Turn 1, however a brush with the wall while attempting to build his lead resulted in minor damage to the Brazilian’s car. Vergne capitalised on Piquet Jr’s hobbled pace, and took the lead into Turn 8 with the Andretti drive quickly building a solid lead and leaving Piquet Jr to battle the eDAMS.Renault cars of Buemi and Nicolas Prost.
An early safety car was called when Putrajaya winner Sam Bird crashed at Turn 2, followed by a second towards mid-race when Stéphane Sarrazin spun his Venturi, the incident being caused by a heavy kerb strike damaging his car’s suspension. This safety car period prompted pit stops and car changes for the majority of the field.
Bruno Senna, who hit the wall hard trying to avoid the spinning Sarrazin, took the opportunity to limp back to pit lane, swap cars and continue in the race.
Buemi was a beneficiary of the timing of the safety car, taking his stop and emerging ahead of not only Piquet but also in front of Vergne, who had pitted under green conditions the lap before Sarrazin’s incident. Nick Heidfeld had emerged from the pits ahead of both Buemi and Vergne, but was found to have left his pit bay before fulfilling the minimum permitted pit stop time, and was handed a drive-through penalty as a result.
As the race resumed, Vergne shadowed Buemi closely, and when the safety car intervened for the third time with four laps to go – this time for Matthew Brabham crashing at the exit of the Turn 15 chicane – the stage looked set for an exciting battle to the finish. Vergne used his FanBoost on the restart, eliminating any gap between himself and Buemi, but was unable to make a pass. The sparring continued until Vergne’s suspension failed, eliminating him from the contest. With the pair holding a healthy lead over Piquet Jr when Vergne bowed out, Buemi was able to ease to his first victory in Formula E ahead of the Brazilian.
Championship leader Lucas di Grassi continued his run of Formula E podiums in third, ahead of Jarno Trulli to claimed his – and his team’s – first championship points. Virgin’s Jaime Alguersuari finished fifth and Senna sixth, while a penalty for excessive power use demoted Prost, who had earlier been challenging for the podium placings, to seventh. The top ten was completed by Jérôme d’Ambrosio, Oriol Servià and Heidfeld, who fought back from his penalty, deploying his FanBoost on the final lap to pass Antonio García for tenth place.
Daniel Abt set the race’s fastest lap – and with it took two bonus points – however intermittent shut downs of his car hampered his progress as he finished in 15th position.
Having been dominant in pre-season testing, topping the time sheets for three of the four official tests, Buemi was happy to finally convert his pace into a race win, especially given the intense battle with Vergne: “I knew he was going to use his FanBoost, clearly we took it a little bit too safe in the last few laps when he started to catch me because I was still trying to save energy. I knew he was going to be fast but I don’t know what happened to him in the end. I’m really happy with today’s result.”
For Piquet, his podium came with some fortune, having damaged car early in the race, and then benefitting from Vergne’s demise: “It was a great start, immediate reaction and the car handled very well. On the first lap I attacked the chicane a little bit too hard trying to build a gap and I think I damaged my front suspension. We got a bit lucky to get second place when Jean-Éric had a problem but we’re all happy.”
Having fought through the field all day to fourth place, Trulli was pleased to finally get a reward for his eponymous team: “It’s a reasonable result for us. It’s a good result for the team, but I seem to be in the wrong place at the wrong time a lot!”
With three podiums from three races, di Grassi now holds a healthy 18-point championship lead over Sam Bird and Buemi, whose win in Punta del Este ties him with the Briton for second in the standings, both drivers having scored 40 points so far.
The FIA Formula E Championship now takes a short break over the Christmas and New Year period, before resuming for round four in Buenos Aires, Argentina on Saturday January 10, 2015.
Round 3 of the FIA Formula E Championship will be held on the streets of Punte del Este, Uruguay, on Saturday December 13.
2014-15 Formula E Punta del Este e-Prix – Final Classification (31 laps):
|Driver||Team / Entry||Laps||Result|
|1.||Sébastien Buemi||Team e.dams Renault||31||49:08.990|
|2.||Nelson Piquet Jr||China Racing Formula E Team||31||+ 0.732|
|3.||Lucas di Grassi||Audi Sport ABT Formula E Team||31||+ 2.365|
|4.||Jarno Trulli||Trulli Formula E Team||31||+ 4.163|
|5.||Jaime Alguersuari||Virgin Racing Formula E Team||31||+ 4.698|
|6.||Bruno Senna||Mahindra Racing Formula E Team||31||+ 5.197|
|7.||Nicolas Prost||Team e.dams Renault||31||+ 6.514|
|8.||Jérôme d’Ambrosio||Dragon Racing Formula E Team||31||+ 7.567|
|9.||Oriol Servià||Dragon Racing Formula E Team||31||+ 8.646|
|10.||Nick Heidfeld||VENTURI Formula E Team||31||+ 10.563|
|11.||Antonio García||China Racing Formula E Team||31||+ 10.594|
|12.||Michela Cerruti||Trulli Formula E Team||31||+ 19.617|
|13.||Karun Chandhok||Mahindra Racing Formula E Team||31||+ 54.175|
|14.||Jean-Éric Vergne||Andretti Autosport Formula E Team||29||Suspension|
|15.||Daniel Abt||Audi Sport ABT Formula E Team||28||3 laps behind|
|16.||Salvador Durán||Amlin Aguri||27||4 laps behind|
|DNF.||Matthew Brabham||Andretti Autosport Formula E Team||26||Accident|
|DNF.||Stéphane Sarrazin||VENTURI Formula E Team||15||Spin|
|DNF.||António Félix da Costa||Amlin Aguri||6||Mechanical|
|DNF.||Sam Bird||Virgin Racing Formula E Team||3||Accident|
|Daniel Abt||Audi Sport ABT Formula E Team||22||1:18.451|
Images via FIA Formula E Championship Media
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