Sébastien Buemi has continued his late Formula E title resurgence by winning round ten of the championship on the Saturday of the London ePrix. With championship leader Nelson Piquet Jr finishing fifth and fellow title challenger Lucas di Grassi fourth, Buemi moved to second in the championship and reduced what was a 23-point deficit to Piquet at the start of the meeting to just five points.
Di Grassi now sits third on the table, a further eight points behind Buemi.
Buemi’s win, combined with his team mate Nicolas Prost crossing the line in seventh, also secures the inaugural Formula E Team’s Championship for eDAMS.Renault with one race to run.
Whilst happy to claim the team’s crown, team founder Alain Prost refused to be distracted by the occasion, insisting the job was not done unless Buemi clinches the driver’s title on Sunday,
“It’s almost like a dream because it secured the constructors’ championship but the drivers’ is still open. It’s exactly the same feeling and motivation I had when I was racing, that is: try to do it in the last race to keep the championship open, that way you’ll feel better with any motivation. We now just need to forget what happened today and concentrate on tomorrow and try to win with Sébastien again,” he said after the race.
eDAMS.Renault’s Team’s Championship is well deserved, having been the most successful team to date – Saturday’s win is Buemi’s third of the season, following victory in Punta del Este (Uruguay) and Monaco, while Prost also claimed a victory in Miami and even briefly led the championship.
With the race starting behind the safety car due to last minute barrier revisions at Turn 1 to avoid a major bump, Buemi led away from pole and was well clear by the time the field reached the first major braking zone at Turn 3.
Starting fourth, Piquet soon began challenging di Grassi for third, using FanBoost to get alongside, but contact between the two saw Piquet shoot deep into the chicane allowing Jean-Éric Vergne capitalise and move into fourth. The Frenchman was soon challenging di Grassi, and a bold move to the inside of the Brazilian – in which Vergne had all four wheels locked – secured third place.
He kept position through the pitstop cycle, and while a battery issue in his second car prevented a challenge for second, Vergne held on to claim another podium.
Having just retained second after a close battle with Vergne as the Frenchman exited Pitlane, Jérôme d’Ambrosio then managed the gap for the rest of the race take his second podium of the year. “I knew that JEV was going for a shorter first stint so obviously that meant he was going to go out and as go as fast as he could on a push lap, so I tried to manage my gap,” said the Belgian. “I wasn’t thinking too much about Seb, I was really thinking about JEV and tried to push in the last couple of laps in the stint, and that worked well, but it was still pretty tight in corner three with JEV when he got out of the box.”
Despite taking 18 points for the podium result, d’Ambrosio’s mathematical chance of taking the championship is now over, leaving only Piquet Jr, Buemi and di Grassi to battle it out on Sunday.
With nine laps remaining, a crash at the final corner for Daniel Abt released the Safety car, and bunched the field for a five lap sprint to the end. Buemi was again able to jump clear, and while d’Ambrosio and Vergne held station, di Grassi and Piquet began another close battle.
Ultimately, with so much on the line for the championship neither driver took any risks on the tight Battersea Park circuit, and the Brazilian pair remained in fourth and fifth with di Grassi ahead – also claiming the two bonus points for fastest race lap in the process.
Behind the top five, Virgin’s Sam Bird moved from ninth on the grid to a sixth place finish, ahead of Prost, Loïc Duval, Oliver Turvey on debut, and Stéphane Sarrazin in tenth. Penalties for pit lane speeding dropped Bruno Senna and Salvador Duran out of the points, while the other debuting drivers had mixed races: Simona de Silvestro finished eleventh and Fabio Leimer fourteenth, while Alex Fontana and Sakon Yamamoto failed to finish.
So, with the championship now a race in three, it all happens again on Sunday, with thirty championship points on offer for the race win, pole position and fastest lap. In Buemi’s view, he’ll aim to replicate his Saturday performance – doing so will almost certainly see him jump Piquet and take the title: “We will try to do our best again. We have not got much to lose tomorrow – we won the Teams’ championship so we will try to repeat as much as possible the result today. We will push hard and see what happens.”
Sunday’s track activity will follow the same program as Saturday – the day’s first practice begins at 08:15 local time (UTC+01:00), practice two starts at 10:30, and qualifying is on track from 12:00. FanBoost will be set at 15:50, before the eleventh and final race of the season will go green at 16:00.
|2015 FIA Formula E London ePrix – Race 1 Final Classification (29 laps)|
|Pos||Driver||Team / Entry||Laps||Result|
|1.||Sébastien Buemi||Team e.DAMS Renault||29||47:54.784|
|2.||Jérôme d’Ambrosio||Dragon Racing Formula E Team||29||+ 0.939|
|3.||Jean-Éric Vergne||Andretti Autosport Formula E Team||29||+ 1.667|
|4.||Lucas di Grassi||Audi Sport ABT Formula E Team||29||+ 2.409|
|5.||Nelson Piquet Jr||NEXTEV Team China Racing||29||+ 7.370|
|6.||Sam Bird||Virgin Racing Formula E Team||29||+ 7.762|
|7.||Nicolas Prost||Team e.DAMS Renault||29||+ 8.553|
|8.||Loïc Duval||Dragon Racing Formula E Team||29||+ 9.507|
|9.||Oliver Turvey||NEXTEV Team China Racing||29||+ 10.032|
|10.||Stéphane Sarrazin||VENTURI Formula E Team||29||+ 12.077|
|11.||Simona de Silvestro||Andretti Autosport Formula E Team||29||+ 15.946|
|12.||Karun Chandhok||Mahindra Racing Formula E Team||29||+ 35.595|
|13.||Nick Heidfeld||VENTURI Formula E Team||29||+ 41.034|
|14.||Fabio Leimer||Virgin Racing Formula E Team||29||+ 42.697|
|15.||Jarno Trulli||Trulli Formula E Team||29||+ 43.273|
|16.||Bruno Senna||Mahindra Racing Formula E Team||29||+ 48.423|
|17.||Salvador Durán*||Amlin Aguri||29||+ 1:01.987|
|Not Classified||Team / Entry||Laps||Result|
|DNF.||Alex Fontana||Trulli Formula E Team||25||Battery|
|DNF.||Daniel Abt||Audi Sport ABT Formula E Team||15||Accident|
|DNF.||Sakon Yamamoto||Amlin Aguri||15||Electrical|
- Durán was awarded a drive-through penalty (applied as a 49-second post-race time penalty) for speeding in the pit lane.
Images via FIA Formula E Media