Sébastien Buemi is very much back in control of the FIA Formula E Championship standings, following victory in the Paris ePrix, his second victory in as many weeks.
Starting from pole position, Buemi defended from an attack by Jean-Éric Vergne into Turn 1, and set about building a lead over the pack with Vergne in tow. This continued at the front until the first major incident of the race, when the battle for fourteenth place between António Félix da Costa and championship contender Lucas di Grassi resulted in awkward contact.
Da Costa had made a pass on di Grassi, and having made a run to take the position back di Grassi took his line to enter the next corner, but was not completely clear of da Costa. Both cars spun, with da Costa’s Andretti out of the race instantly, while di Grassi somehow avoided any major damage and returned to the pit lane for his car swap under the ensuing Safety Car, with the entire field bar Mike Conway doing the same.
The contact with da Costa was just the start of a disastrous race for di Grassi. His ABT Schaeffler Audi Sport team released the Brazilian from his pit bay before completing the minimum pit stop time, this infraction earned a drive-through penalty and ended any chance of scoring points for his finishing position. Di Grassi’s focus then shifted to trying to set the fastest lap of the race, and the bonus point that comes with it.
Up front, Buemi was maintaining a comfortable gap to Vergne when the steering rack failed on the second-placed Techeetah, pitching Vergne into the wall and into retirement. A second Safety Car period was called to clear the Frenchman’s car, and moved the DS Virgin of José María López into striking distance of Buemi.
Once the race resumed, Buemi once again moved clear, and López had no challenge for the Renault e.Dams ahead. At this point, di Grassi’s nightmare day became even worse. Having initially set the fastest race lap, di Grassi’s mark was bettered by Sam Bird. After a brief return to the pit lane for a setup adjustment, di Grassi headed out for a final assault on the lap times.
Pushing too hard, the Brazilian pitched his car into the wall and the safety car was deployed again. Being late in the race, there was not enough time to complete the recovery and resume racing, so for the second year in succession the Paris ePrix ended under yellow flag conditions.
Taking his fifth victory from six races this season, Buemi’s race was all about controlling from the front.
“The most important thing for me was to pull away after the grid position we got,” he said. “And you know when the brakes are cold, the first few corners are a bit of a guess for everyone and Jean-Éric Vergne was very aggressive and tried to pass me, so I tried to delay the braking as late as I could, just to stay ahead.
“I consumed maybe a little bit more energy than I was expecting to use, just to make up a little gap. I lost a bit of time in the Full Course Yellow and obviously in the restart when he [Vergne] crashed I was having a nice time as he was putting me under pressure. Then we had the Safety Car and José had a great race today, he was really, really quick and I had to push quite hard at the end of the race just to make sure I could build up a bit of a gap.”
Having only debuted in Formula E this season, López’s second place is his first podium in the category, after the disappointment of spinning out of a battle for the lead in Mexico. The reigning World Touring Car Champion credited hard work with finally achieving the result.
“You can see from the beginning of the year that we had a good car, but my experience was not enough to be competitive. But we worked hard in the race, it was a circuit I liked, the city and everything and I think that played a part as well,” he said.
The race also played out favourably for Mahindra, who completed their best ever team points haul. Nick Heidfeld’s run of form continued with third place – his second podium in as many events – while Felix Rosenqvist in the team’s second car finished fourth.
Nicolas Prost took the title of highest-placed French driver, the local hero yet again putting in a consistent performance for fifth place, cementing his third place in the Drivers’ Championship standings.
Robin Frijns and Nelson Piquet Jr claimed sixth and seventh place respectively, ahead of Venturi’s substitute driver Tom Dillmann who scored points on debut with eighth. Mitch Evans made it three point-scoring results in a row for Jaguar with ninth place, while Stéphane Sarrazin rounded out the top ten.
Buemi’s win and di Grassi’s retirement has opened a commanding lead for the Swiss driver in the drivers’ championship, with Buemi (132 points) now 43 points ahead of the Brazilian. Prost (58) sits third, while Heidfeld (47) has moved into fourth. Having been in a share of third place just two events ago, retirements in both Monaco and Paris have pushed Verge down to fifth place with 40 points.
With 190 points, Renault e.Dams continue to dominate the teams’ championship, 75 points ahead of ABT Schaeffler Audi Sport, while Mahindra (87) sit third ahead of DS Virgin Racing (63). NextEV NIO (48) and Techeetah (45) are locked in a tight battle for fifth in the standings.
The FIA Formula E championship now returns to Berlin Tempelhof Airport for rounds seven and eight of the series over the weekend of June 10 and 11, the first of three double-header events to round out the season.
|2017 Formula E Paris ePrix – Final Classification (49 laps)|
|Pos||Driver||Team / Entry||Laps||Result||Pts|
|1.||Sébastien Buemi||Renault e.DAMS||49||59:41.125||28*|
|2.||José María López||DS Virgin Racing Formula E Team||49||+ 0.707||18|
|3.||Nick Heidfeld||Mahindra Racing Formula E Team||49||+ 2.043||15|
|4.||Felix Rosenqvist||Mahindra Racing Formula E Team||49||+ 2.621||12|
|5.||Nicolas Prost||Renault e.DAMS||49||+ 3.521||10|
|6.||Robin Frijns||MS Amlin Andretti||49||+ 7.999||8|
|7.||Nelson Piquet Jr||NextEV NIO||49||+ 32.420||6|
|8.||Tom Dillman||Venturi Formula E Team||49||+ 32.929||4|
|9.||Mitch Evans||Panasonic Jaguar Racing||49||+ 33.369||2|
|10.||Stéphane Sarrazin||Venturi Formula E Team||49||+ 34.051||1|
|11.||Esteban Gutiérrez||Techeetah||49||+ 36.197|
|12.||Oliver Turvey||NextEV NIO||49||+ 40.082|
|13.||Daniel Abt||ABT Schaeffler Audi Sport||48||Energy|
|14.||Mike Conway||Faraday Future Dragon Racing||48||+ 1 lap|
|15.||Adam Carroll||Panasonic Jaguar Racing||48||+ 1 lap|
|16.||Sam Bird||DS Virgin Racing Formula E Team||47||+ 2 laps||1^|
|Not Classified||Team / Entry||Laps||Result|
|DNF.||Lucas di Grassi||ABT Schaeffler Audi Sport||38||Accident|
|DNF.||Jérôme d’Ambrosio||Faraday Future Dragon Racing||35||Energy|
|DNF.||António Félix da Costa||MS Amlin Andretti||18||Accident|
* For claiming pole position (3 pts)
^ For posting the fastest lap of the race (1pt)
- Robin Frijns – who was provisionally classified in fifth – was awarded a 5-second post-race time penalty for a yellow flag infringement.
- Esteban Gutiérrez – who was provisionally classified in seventh – was awarded a 5-second post-race time penalty for a yellow flag infringement.
Images via FIA Formula E Championship
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