Saturday, October 24, 2015

Buemi Blows Out Field, Wins Beijing ePrix

The first race of the 2015-16 Formula E was arguably the first blow out in the series' short history.

Renault e.dams driver Sébastien Buemi led 25 of 26 laps from pole position and set fastest lap on his way to a record-extending fourth Formula E victory. The Swiss driver was never challenged as he opened up to a seven-second lead early in the first stint and led by over 11 seconds at the time of the pit stop on lap 14. This is the first time in series history a driver has scored the maximum of 30 points with first place paying 25 points, pole position paying three points and fastest lap getting two points.

Last year's Beijing winner Lucas di Grassi came home in second. The Brazilian had nothing for Buemi but he did have to battle with Buemi's teammate Nicolas Prost for position. The French driver, however, would tap the barrier and lose his right rear pod, which caused his rear wing to askew. Prost faced a black flag and retired with four laps to go. Prost's retirement gave third position to Nick Heidfeld. The German faced a hefty challenge from the Dragon Racing drivers Loïc Duval and Jérôme d'Ambrosio. Both Dragon cars went a lap further on their first stint and Duval led when Buemi was in the pit lane. Heidfeld would hold off the Dragon drivers, handing Mahindra Racing the team's first podium in Formula E.

Oliver Turvey finished sixth after going a lap longer on the first stint and benefitted from a full-course yellow involving Venturi's Jacques Villeneuve and Aguri's António Félix da Costa as the Brit was on the pit lane when the incident occurred and forced the other drivers on track to slow to 50 KPH. Sam Bird finished seventh with Aguri driver Nathanaėl Berthon scoring on debut after also benefitting from the incident that ended his teammates race. Stéphane Sarrazin finished ninth with the rookie and Andretti driver Robin Frijns finishing tenth, pickup one point on debut. Daniel Abt had finished ninth but was handed a 10-second penalty for unsafe release on his pit stop.

Jean-Éric Vergne started in the top five but finished 12th. Bruno Senna ran in the top five for most of the first stint but finished 13th. Villeneuve was able to continue despite the contact with da Costa and finished 14th. Defending champion Nelson Piquet, Jr. was the final finisher in 15th. The Brazilian started last but was another driver who benefitted from the Villeneuve-da Costa caution. He was in the top ten when he stopped on circuit only to regain power.

The third retirement of the race was Simona de Silvestro, who nosed her car in the turn two barriers on lap three. This brought out the first full-course caution of the season.

Buemi leads the championship with 30 points and is 12 points clear of di Grassi. Fifteen points back is Heidfeld with Duval sitting on 12 points. D'Ambrosio has 10 points with Turvey on eighth, Bird on six, Berthon on four, Sarrazin on two and Frijns on one.

In the Teams' Championship, Renault e.dams has 30 thanks to Buemi with Dragon Racing eight points back. Twelve points behind Renault e.dams is ABT Audi Sport. Mahindra is fourth on 15 points. NEXTEV TCR rounds out the top five with eight points. DS Virgin Racing has six points. Team Aguri is on four points, Venturi has two and Andretti has one. The team that did not get on the board was Trulli Formule E. Trulli did not contest round one with drivers Vitantonio Liuzzi and Salvador Durán after they failed to get their cars through scrutineering.

The second round of the 2015-16 Formula E season will take place in a fortnight, November 7th, from Putrajaya, Malaysia. Sam Bird is the defending winner of that race.