Sebastien Buemi, the Renault
e.dams star, recharged his title assault with a sensational win in the Julius
Baer Punta del Este ePrix.
For the first time this season
the Renault e.dams star failed to take pole position, but from fifth position
on the grid he produced a charging drive, much to the delight of over 10,000 Uruguayan
fans to score his fifth career victory.
From the word go, Sebastien Buemi sprinted
off the line to instantly take fourth place from Abt Schaeffler’s Lucas di
Grassi. The DS Virgin car of Sam Bird and the Dragon Racing entry of Loic Duval
soon fell prey to the Swiss, and it was only a matter of time before pole-sitter
Jerome D’Ambrosio (Dragon Racing) yielded as well.
The move for the lead was met
with a huge cheer from the grandstands, and once ahead Buemi showed no signs of
relinquishing his grasp on the winner’s trophy.
Meanwhile, Mahindra Racing’s Oliver
Rowland could only manage a 13th position in the race while his
teammate Bruno Senna came in a distant 16th in the final standing.
Buemi said: “The start was
really important for the outcome of the race. Pulling away from the clean side
of the grid meant I could jump di Grassi and then close in and pass D’Ambrosio
and Bird in the opening laps. I was ahead and lost a lot of time under Full
Course Yellow. Normally you get a 10 second countdown from the race director
but the boards were already out so I backed off, I didn’t want to take the
risk. It’s good to bounce back from Putrajaya but Lucas is really close and
consistent so we have to remain focused.”
On the ‘dirty’ side of the
grid, di Grassi knew that keeping Buemi behind at the start would be a tough
ask, and knew he had to try to keep pace with the eventual winner as he fought
through the field. In his attempt to pass Duval he very nearly hit the wall and
instead lost a place to his Abt Schaeffler team-mate Daniel Abt. A small error
by Abt allowed di Grassi back through and he pushed hard to ensure he was as
close as possible to Bird and Duval when they all came in for their mandatory
A perfect pitstop meant he
leapfrogged into second place and closed right in on Buemi as a Full Course
Yellow was thrown after a Battery Management System error caused Bird’s car to
stop on track. Di Grassi gave everything to put Buemi under pressure, but
couldn’t get close enough to force a move or a mistake and settled for second.
Di Grassi said: “Today second
was the maximum we could achieve with Renault again showing they have the car
to beat. Also this result is thanks to my team who did a really good job in the
pitstop where I moved ahead of both Dragon cars. I managed to catch Buemi and
tried to manage the gap but he was too fast, they have been the quickest in the
first three races. He’s the man to win the championship but if he doesn’t do it
we’ll be here to do it.”
From his first-ever Formula E
pole, D’Ambrosio made a perfect start and comfortably led from Bird, who beat
Duval off the line to slot into second. A few tenths at a time, D’Ambrosio eked
out the lead, but as soon as Buemi made it into second his advantage was
decimated – Buemi lapping a full 1.5s faster than the Dragon Racing star in his
first lap in clean air.
An overly-cautious entry into
the pits gave di Grassi the chance to steal second place, and in the closing
stages D’Ambrosio was once again in a fraught battle with his team-mate Loic
Duval. D’Ambrosio held on for third, and with Duval fourth it was another
strong race for Jay Penske’s team.
D’Ambrosio said: “Getting both
Dragon cars in the top-five was a good achievement. Starting from pole you want
to win the race but realistically the other cars are faster. I just did my own
race. Loic and I had a close one here as in Beijing, I didn’t have much energy
left and was in a close fight. I was under pressure but managed to hold on.”
Just over six second covered
the top four, but there was a huge gap back to fifth place and Renault e.dams’s
Nico Prost. Sixth place went to Team Aguri’s Antonio Felix da Costa, easily the
lead season one tech runner and he felt it was genuinely the best result
possible in the circumstances.
Jacques Villeneuve was unable
to take the start after seriously damaging one of his Venturi chassis in a
qualifying shunt. Jean-Eric Vergne used FanBoost to make his way by the Venturi
of Stephane Sarrazin and into the top-10. He gained a place when Oliver Turvey
was penalised for his NEXTEV TCR team releasing him too early from his pitstop,
and set to work on battling with Turvey’s team-mate Nelson Piquet Jr.
Coming onto the final lap the
pair traded places and paint, but Piquet remained ahead. However, he lost rear
grip on the entry to the chicane and slammed sideways into the tyre barrier.
Vergne was elevated to seventh, while Piquet was unhurt but out.
Daniel Abt was eighth,
Sarrazin ninth, while Robin Frijns, whose Andretti team changed the entire
powertrain (including battery) in his second car in between qualifying and the
race, rewarded their efforts with the final point in 10th.
With a beach party following
on from the amazing podium ceremony at the famous hand, there was a fantastic
‘end of year’ feeling about the whole event. There’s now 48 days until Formula
E returns to South America for the Buenos Aires ePrix. Last year it was
arguably the most exciting event of the season, and Buemi’s rivals will be
hoping that he doesn’t have things his own way.
Sébastien BUEMI (FL)
Lucas DI GRASSI
ABT Schaeffler Audi Sport
Jérôme D'AMBROSIO (P)
Antonio Felix DA COSTA
DS Virgin Racing Formula E Team
Venturi Formula E Team
Andretti Formula E Race Team
Simona DE SILVESTRO
NEXTEV TCR Formula E Team
Mahindra Racing Formula E Team
Nelson PIQUET JR
Source: FIA FormulaE
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