It was a case of normal service resuming for Sébastien Buemi at the Berlin ePrix, as the Renault e.Dams driver bounced back from being excluded from the Saturday race by claiming victory on Sunday.
It wasn’t a case of controlling the race from the front, however – in fact Buemi wasn’t even first across the line.
Mahindra’s Felix Rosenqvist was again the driver to beat, but a ten-second penalty added to his race time for an unsafe pit release demoted the Swede to second. Lucas di Grassi moved forward during the race to take the final podium position, extending his Formula E podium record to 19 out of 29 races completed.
Rosenqvist led away from pole position and quickly build a two-second lead over Buemi, who faced an initial challenge from the DS Virgin racers of José María López and Sam Bird. Buemi soon moved clear of this battle and began to close on Rosenqvist as the pit stops approached.
It was the pit stop cycle that would bring about the defining moment of the race. Having completed their car swap, Mahindra released Rosenqvist right into the path of his incoming teammate Nick Heidfeld. While no contact was made and only minimal time was lost by the Swede it was clearly an unsafe release, and unsurprisingly news soon came through of the time penalty awaiting Rosenqvist.
Having been made aware of Rosenqvist’s penalty, and knowing that title challenger di Grassi was charging through from behind, Buemi made a strategic call to maximise his points gain. Rather than challenge for the lead on the road – in turn slowing both the Mahindra and Renault e.Dams cars down – Buemi contently waited in second to ensure the gap between Rosenqvist and di Grassi remained above ten seconds and thus kept the Brazilian in third after the penalty was applied.
While not able to benefit from Rosenqvist’s penalty, di Grassi’s move through the field to third place from seventh on the grid was impressive. Passing Oliver Turvey for sixth early in the race, contact between the two DS Virgins ahead pushed Bird off the road and di Grassi to fifth. The Brazilian then claimed fourth position with a pass on López at turn eight before the pit stops. Di Grassi moved onto the podium with a pass on Jean-Éric Vergne at Turn 1, and then proceeded to run on his own until the end of the race.
Victory for Buemi – his sixth of the season – was a welcome return to form after updates to his car failed to perform in Saturday qualifying, followed by exclusion from Saturday’s race.
“We try to bring new updates and sometimes it can be quite difficult to put them into proper race condition. Yesterday it didn’t work so we came back to what we had in Paris and Monaco, and it worked quite well,” he said.
“It’s quite difficult to practice outside of the races and bring things that work straight away, so I’m happy that we managed to have a good pace in the race, the car was very quick – I think we were more or less the same pace [as Rosenqvist]. I’m very happy with that result, it just tastes a little bit different than normal.”
While disappointed to not complete a sweep of race wins over the weekend, Rosenqvist was still proud of an incredibly successful weekend for himself and Mahindra.
“I think in a couple of hours when I look back at this weekend it will be as a very positive one, both for me and the team,” he said.
“Obviously, the result is very disappointing, it would have been very cool to take another win but it’s just a fantastic weekend overall. Today, we were under pressure from Sébastien, we knew that we would be close as they looked very strong compared to yesterday. I knew that I had to drive a perfect race, every corner we had to drive perfect. I think we did a great job.”
Behind the podium cars, di Grassi’s teammate Daniel Abt moved through to take fourth place, benefiting from winning the FanBoost vote to pass Vergne. At just over 56 minutes this was the longest Formula E race in history, and the need to manage energy usage in his Techeetah caused problems for Vergne with López also finding a way by into fifth.
Bird fell to seventh after a ‘friendly fire’ incident with López in the first stint of the race; the Brit finished ahead of Renault e.Dams’ Nicolas Prost who maintained his record as the only driver to score points in every race this season.
Turvey finished in ninth place, while Nick Heidfeld rounded out the top ten. A technical problem for Heidfeld in qualifying forced the German into 20th and last on the grid, but using the pace of his Mahindra he moved forward during the race and inherited the final point-scoring position when Jérôme d’Ambrosio was handed a drive-through penalty for not completing the minimum pit stop time.
Maro Engel scored the bonus point for fastest lap of the race, having been forced to his second car early after sustaining damage to his Venturi on the opening lap.
Buemi’s win moves him to 157 points and extends his championship lead over di Grassi to 32 points, coincidentally the same gap the Swiss driver would have had after Saturday’s race had he not been disqualified. Rosenqvist’s stellar weekend has seen him jump to third in the Drivers’ Championship on 86 points, ahead of Prost (72 points) and Heidfeld (63 points).
Renault e.Dams remain dominant in the Teams’ Championship with 229 points, 58 points clear of ABT Schaeffler Audi Sport, while Mahindra sit in third on 149 points.
The FIA Formula E Championship now moves to North America for the second of three double-header events to round out the season, with the inaugural New York City ePrix to be held over the weekend of July 15-16.
|2017 Formula E Berlin ePrix – Race 2 Final Classification (46 laps)|
|Pos||Driver||Team / Entry||Laps||Result||Pts|
|1.||Sébastien Buemi||Renault e.DAMS||46||56:02.155||25|
|2.||Felix Rosenqvist||Mahindra Racing Formula E Team||46||+ 7.195||21*|
|3.||Lucas di Grassi||ABT Schaeffler Audi Sport||46||+ 10.862||15|
|4.||Daniel Abt||ABT Schaeffler Audi Sport||46||+ 13.631||12|
|5.||José María López||DS Virgin Racing Formula E Team||46||+ 20.324||10|
|6.||Jean-Éric Vergne||Techeetah||46||+ 20.751||8|
|7.||Sam Bird||DS Virgin Racing Formula E Team||46||+ 21.959||6|
|8.||Nicolas Prost||Renault e.DAMS||46||+ 22.155||4|
|9.||Oliver Turvey||NextEV NIO||46||+ 34.949||2|
|10.||Nick Heidfeld||Mahindra Racing Formula E Team||46||+ 35.814||1|
|11.||António Félix da Costa||MS Amlin Andretti||46||+ 44.057|
|12.||Nelson Piquet Jr||NextEV NIO||46||+ 44.439|
|13.||Jérôme d’Ambrosio||Faraday Future Dragon Racing||46||+ 47.336|
|14.||Stéphane Sarrazin||Techeetah||46||+ 51.653|
|15.||Tom Dillman||Venturi Formula E Team||46||+ 56.977|
|16.||Adam Carroll||Panasonic Jaguar Racing||46||+ 1:05.426|
|17.||Mitch Evans||Panasonic Jaguar Racing||46||+ 1:07.018|
|18.||Robin Frijns||MS Amlin Andretti||46||+ 1:12.083|
|Not Classified||Team / Entry||Laps||Result|
|DNF.||Loïc Duval||Faraday Future Dragon Racing||33||Retirement|
|DNF.||Maro Engel||Venturi Formula E Team||14||Retirement||1^|
* For claiming pole position (3 pts)
^ For posting the fastest lap of the race (1pt)
- Felix Rosenqvist was issued a 10-second time penalty for an unsafe pit release.
Images via FIA Formula E Championship