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Buemi paces Monaco Formula E practice for Renault e.dams

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MONACO – Sebastien Buemi put an early stamp of authority on proceedings in Monaco for Saturday’s Formula E event by leading both practice sessions in the principality ahead of qualifying.

Defending Formula E champion Buemi saw his run of three consecutive ePrix victories come to an end in Mexico last month after a topsy-turvy race that saw the Swiss driver finish 14th after a spin.

Perennial rival Lucas di Grassi made a bold strategy work to pick up his first win of the season and cut Buemi’s championship lead to just five points, setting the stage for a tight battle around the equally-tight streets of Monaco this weekend.

Buemi took the bragging rights through practice after leading both FP1 and FP2, heading up a one-two finish for Renault e.dams through the first session as teammate Nicolas Prost slotted into second place.

FP2 saw more teams focus on outright pace ahead of qualifying, turning their cars up to their full power allocation of 200kW, but it was Buemi who led once again, posting a best lap time of 52.729s.

Sam Bird followed in second place for DS Virgin Racing, finishing 0.068 seconds behind, while di Grassi was a further two-tenths back in third place. Jean-Eric Vergne turned in the fourth-fastest time for Techeetah, while Bird’s teammate, Jose Maria Lopez, ended the session fifth.

Lopez had been in doubt for the race weekend after missing last weekend’s FIA World Endurance Championship event at Spa through injury, but had no issues through FP1 and will complete the event as planned.

F1 2017 driver review: Lance Stroll

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Team: Williams

Car No.: 18
Races: 20
Wins: 0
Podiums: 1
Best Finish: P3 (Azerbaijan)
Pole Positions: 0
Fastest Laps: 0
Points: 40
Championship Position: 13th

Lance Stroll’s arrival in Formula 1 at the start of the 2017 was a far from smooth one despite a significant private testing program being undertaken in the months leading up to his grand prix debut.

Even with older hand Felipe Massa at Williams, Stroll looked uneasy behind the wheel of the FW40 car through the opening run of races as he failed to reach the checkered flag in any of his first three starts.

The Canadian was left deflated after his first decent effort in Bahrain was cut short after a clash with Carlos Sainz Jr., calling it his “rock bottom” moment – but things would turn around on home soil.

Stroll produced a stunning fight through the field to take an excellent P9 in Canada, proving his talent seen in Formula 3 the previous year and shushing many of his critics.

Better would follow two weeks later in Baku when Stroll became the youngest rookie in F1 history to score a podium, dodging a crazy race to finish third. It would have been second had he not lost a drag race against Valtteri Bottas to the line.

Stroll’s form then fluctuated greatly. He was sublime on occasion, the best examples being Monza, when he started a remarkable P2 on the grid and ended as the top midfielder in P7, or Mexico where he took a brilliant sixth.

But there were too many weekends he was a little anonymous. Sure, Williams didn’t have the best car this year, but perhaps a little better was expected from Stroll.

2018 will be an even bigger challenge as he looks to the lead the team when a new teammate arrives – and at only 19, it is a lot to handle. Nevertheless, there are positive signs to be found; you just need to look for them a little.

Season High: Taking a shock podium in Baku after dodging chaos in front.

Season Low: A poor opening two races in Australia and China.