Sebastien Buemi wins Paris ePrix while rivals hit trouble
With the victory at Saturday’s Paris ePrix, Sebastien Buemi has now won five of the opening six rounds of the 2016-2017 FIA Formula E Championship.
In doing so, Buemi has extended his points lead over Lucas di Grassi, who had a disastrous race and walked away without a point.
Buemi took pole ahead of Jean-Eric Vergne and led the field away for the first of 49 laps on Saturday.
For the opening half of the race, the event was virtually incident free with the big loser being Esteban Gutierrez who was gradually dropping back in the top 10 after starting fourth.
As the field approached the halfway point, however, Di Grassi – who had started 13th – attempted a pass on Antonio Felix da Costa. The two made contact and Da Costa collected the wall and was out while Di Grassi was spun and dropped to the back of the field.
A Full-Course Yellow was deployed and all of the drivers, bar Mike Conway, opted to pit. However, Adam Carroll and Lucas di Grassi served their stops too quickly and had to serve a drive-through penalty each in the latter stages of the race.
Conway led the field back to green with Buemi and Vergne behind him. Once Conway pit, Buemi and Vergne’s fight was on for the top spot.
However, it all fell apart on Lap 34 when Vergne crashed into the wall in front of his home fans and the Safety Car was deployed.
When the Safety Car peeled in, it was now Jose Maria Lopez – who had started third – behind Buemi, followed by the Mahindra Racing teammates of Nick Heidfeld and Felix Rosenqvist.
No passes were made however, as there was drama again with two laps to go that brought out the Safety Car.
Following his drive-through penalty, Di Grassi had gave up on points for finishing in the top 10 and so opted to try and just get the fastest lap of the race. However, on Lap 47 he was pushing so hard to try and beat Sam Bird’s time that he made a mistake and ended up in the wall.
The Safety Car provided additional complications for Robin Frijns and Esteban Gutierrez who would have five seconds added to their race time at the end of the race for speeding under yellow.
Frijns was running in fifth, but only dropped to sixth at the drop of the checkered flag as the driver who had been running in seventh – Daniel Abt – broke down on the final lap and held up the cars behind him.
Gutierrez went by Abt to finish seventh on the track but his five-second penalty dropped him back to 12th, resulting in a respectful 8th-place finish for Formula E debutant Tom Dillman.
“To be honest, Vergne was putting me under very big pressure at the start and I had to push very hard to make sure I could stay in front,” said Buemi after the race. “In the second car I really had to push so much and then he made a mistake so clearly that gave me a little bit of clean air but then quickly after there was a safety car and I had to restart from zero.”
Unofficial race results:
1. Sebastien Buemi – Renault e.dams
2. Jose Maria Lopez – DS Virgin Racing
3. Nick Heidfeld – Mahindra Racing
4. Felix Rosenqvist – Mahindra Racing
5. Nico Prost – Renault e.dams
6. Robin Frijns – Andretti Formula E
7. Nelson Piquet Jr. – NEXTEV NIO
8. Tom Dillman – Venturi Formula E Team
9. Mitch Evans – Panasonic Jaguar Racing
10. Stephane Sarrazin – Venturi Formula E Team
11. Oliver Turvey – NEXTEV NIO
12. Esteban Gutierrez – TECHEETAH
13. Daniel Abt – ABT Schaeffler Audi Sport
14. Mike Conway – Faraday Future Dragon Racing
15. Adam Carroll – Panasonic Jaguar Racing
16. Sam Bird – DS Virgin Racing
17. Lucas di Grassi – ABT Schaeffler Audi Sport
18. Jerome d’Ambrosio – Faraday Future Dragon Racing
19. Jean-Eric Vergne – TECHEETAH
20. Antonio Felix da Costa – Andretti Formula E