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Rosenqvist takes pole for second Berlin Formula E race

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Felix Rosenqvist continued his good form over the Berlin Formula E weekend by scorching to his second pole position of the season in Sunday’s qualifying session at Tempelhof Airport.

Rosenqvist battled through from third on the grid to claim his maiden Formula E victory in Saturday’s opening race, beating title contender Lucas di Grassi.

The Swede followed this up by taking his second pole in Formula E – his first coming last November in Marrakesh – on Sunday, edging out Renault e.dams’ Sebastien Buemi.

Rosenqvist turned in a fastest lap time of 1:08.208 to finish 0.098 seconds clear of Buemi, giving the Mahindra Racing team even more reason to celebrate after its double podium on Saturday.

Jose Maria Lopez and Sam Bird carried over their good qualifying form from Saturday to get into Super Pole for DS Virgin Racing, locking out the second row of the grid. Jean-Eric Vergne will start fifth for Techeetah.

Fresh from cutting Buemi’s championship lead down to just 22 points on Saturday, di Grassi was unable to repeat his charge to pole, ailing to seventh on the grid behind Oliver Turvey. Daniel Abt and Mitch Evans will start eighth and ninth respectively, with Nicolas Prost rounding out the top 10.

Felix Rosenqvist captures first Formula E win in Berlin race one

Photo: Mahindra Racing
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Mahindra Racing’s Felix Rosenqvist has won in a lot of disciplines and the super, speedy Swede added another win to his resume on Saturday at the Tempelhofring Circuit in Berlin, Germany, his first victory in the FIA Formula E Championship, in what is also the first for the Indian team in the series.

In Round 7 of the 2016/17 championship, this is only the second race points leader Sebastien Buemi has not won. Lucas di Grassi won in Mexico City, Round 4, but otherwise Buemi went five for six prior to today’s race.

Rosenqvist led the opening portion of qualifying before falling to third in the Super Pole session, but quickly got into second off the line behind ABT Schaeffler Audi Sport driver di Grassi, who took pole. Jose Maria Lopez of DS Virgin Racing got a horrendous start from second and slipped back to fourth.

He hounded di Grassi for the first stint of the 44-lap race around the airport circuit before di Grassi gave up the position into the sweeping Turn 1 just before the pit stop to swap cars. Rosenqvist darted around the outside and would thus have the lead going into the pit stop sequence.

The only concern for him from there was whether he’d be able to follow through with the lead after the car exchange, but he did just that, and controlled the pace for the remainder of the race.

Di Grassi was second, 2.232 seconds behind, while Nick Heidfeld completed Mahindra Racing’s banner day with another third place. It’s the German’s third straight third-place finish and fourth overall this season, for the fourth place driver in points heading into the race.

Lopez finished fourth, while Jean-Eric Vergne was fifth on the road before a time penalty assessed that dropped him to ninth, and Buemi took a pivotal fifth to make something of his day, as we’ll note below.

The Swiss driver qualified only 14th but improved to sixth on the road, a gain of eight positions. That became fifth with a five-second time penalty assessed to Techeetah’s Vergne for an unsafe release in his pit stop, and dropped the Frenchman down the order.

All told, di Grassi cut a bit into the 43-point lead Buemi of Renault e.dams had going into the race, but not near as much as he could have with Buemi doing an excellent job of damage limitations.

It was only a net 11-point swing with di Grassi picking up 21 points (18 for second, three for pole) and Buemi 10 (for fifth), and so Buemi holds a 32-point lead going into Sunday’s action. Theoretically, with di Grassi on pole and Buemi only 14th on the grid, the Brazilian had a chance to score a maximum 25 points for the race win and cut the lead to the teens, but it didn’t happen.

Beyond the top five, Nico Prost was sixth in the second Renault ahead of Sam Bird, Daniel Abt, Vergne and Maro Engel.

Elsewhere, Stephane Sarrazin was 13th in his first drive for Techeetah, neither Faraday Future Dragon Racing car made the points, and neither did either MS Amlin Andretti car, which ran longer in the first stint in hopes of leapfrogging the field on pit strategy, but it didn’t work out.

Formula E arrives in Berlin for final European race of season three

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BERLIN, Germany – Formula E has come to a curious spot on its calendar for season three.

Despite having just three more cities slated on the calendar – Berlin, New York and Montreal – the fact they are all double-header rounds means we are only at the halfway mark of the campaign.

As such, there are plenty of points left on the table for title rivals Sebastien Buemi and Lucas di Grassi, both of whom have seen their fortunes vary widely in recent weeks.

Buemi’s run of three wins to start the season came to a shuddering halt in Mexico City, with di Grassi’s victory slicing the gap at the top of the drivers’ championship.

However, consecutive wins for Buemi in Monaco and Paris, combined with di Grassi’s DNF at the latter has seen the gap grow to 43 points. With Buemi’s participation in New York in doubt, though, the battle for the season three title is far from over.

DI GRASSI HOPES BAD LUCK IS USED UP

Di Grassi’s Paris ePrix weekend was a rotten one, with two crashes in the race scuppering his hopes of coming away with any points. However, the Brazilian hopes that the incidents will fill his bad luck allocation for the season in one hit, giving him the chance to bounce back in Berlin.

“Hopefully in Paris, everything that could go wrong did go wrong there, so we have good, clean races here, back to what we normally do, good points, podiums, maybe a victory,” di Grassi told NBC Sports.

“We’re going to fight very hard for that. This is a totally different track from Paris, totally different tarmac, totally different track layout, long straights, a lot of very wide, a lot of energy saving during the race.

“Hopefully we can get everything together and put together a good show.”

SARRAZIN SET FOR TECHEETAH DEBUT

Seasoned Venturi Formula E racer Stephane Sarrazin will make his debut for Techeetah in Berlin this weekend after being drafted in to replace Esteban Gutierrez, who has moved into IndyCar with Dale Coyne Racing.

Until Friday morning, Sarrazin’s move wasn’t made official. Prior to that, the Techeetah team was waiting on permission from the stewards to field the Frenchman alongside Jean-Eric Vergne. Sarrazin fully expects to be allowed to race, but it is nevertheless an interesting quirk heading into the weekend.

Tom Dillmann will fill in for Sarrazin at Venturi for the remainder of the season, having made his Formula E debut in Paris last month.

LE MANS ON THE HORIZON

This weekend’s race in Berlin is the start of a busy run for a number of Formula E drivers who will also be featuring at the 24 Hours of Le Mans next week.

Buemi, di Grassi, Sarrazin, Nicolas Prost, Jean-Eric Vergne, Felix Rosenqvist, Sam Bird, Nelson Piquet Jr. and Jose Maria Lopez will all be heading to the Circuit de la Sarthe soon after the completion of their duties in Berlin, with the extension of the race weekend into a double-header causing a minor travel headache for most involved.

CONTRAST WITH HISTORY

Formula E has returned to Tempelhof Airport for season three after city officials in Berlin voted against staging the race on Karl-Marx-Allee in the city center, as it did in season two. Tempelhof hosted the inaugural Berlin ePrix back in 2015, but this weekend’s double-header will be run on a revised layout.

While Formula E is a series that points to the future, the backdrop of Tempelhof Airport could not be a stronger contrast. Tempelhof was instrumental in keeping West Berlin going in the early years of the Cold War as Allied forces flew supplies into the city that was blockaded by the Soviet Union. At the height of the Berlin Airlift, a plane was arriving in Berlin every 30 seconds filled with essential supplies. The a

FE SEE, FE DO

Formula E has also opted to follow Formula 1’s lead ahead of the Berlin weekend by calling for all teams to add name identifiers to their cars, making it easier for fans to differentiate between drivers.

Buemi, Prost sign on with Renault e.dams in Formula E to 2019

Renault e.dams/DPPI
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BERLIN, Germany – Sebastien Buemi and Nicolas Prost will remain with the Renault e.dams Formula E team until the end of the series’ fifth season in 2019.

Ahead of this weekend’s Berlin ePrix, Renault confirmed that it will continue with the line-up that it has raced with since the first Formula E race in 2014 in a bid to aid the development of its season five car.

Buemi won last year’s Formula E drivers’ title and currently leads the standings in season three after winning five of the opening six rounds.

“I am very pleased to continue the adventure. The team has done an amazing job and allowed me to have the best car on the grid. I could not ask for anything more,” Buemi said.

“I look forward to continuing to fight hard and bringing home more victories to my team.”

Prost, who sits third in the drivers’ standings, added: “I am obviously delighted to continue with Renault e.dams for the next two years. Most people within the team have been here since the first test in Donington back in 2014.

“We all know each other well and get on great together. We will continue to work hard to finish this third season on a high and prepare to do even better in seasons four and five. The level does not stop rising and we want to maintain to be the best.”

Team co-owner Alain Prost said that stability was key to Renault’s decision to sign both its drivers to long-term deals, particularly with a significant overhaul of Formula E on the cards for season five, requiring long-term plannin.

“We have a strong pair of drivers that have proven highly successful to date. Therefore, it is very important for us to maintain stability in the team, given that we are already working on the development of the car for season five,” Prost said.

“The harmony between Sébastien and Nicolas, both on a personal and technical level, is also a very good gauge for success and we took this into account.

“These things combined contributes towards the achievement of the team and it was obvious to us that we wanted to remain in this direction. I am also pleased to have the full support from Renault with this decision.”

Buemi narrowly beats Vergne to Paris Formula E pole

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Sebastien Buemi will start Saturday’s FIA Formula E race in Paris from pole position after edging out home favorite Jean-Eric Vergne by just 0.006 seconds in the final stage of qualifying.

Buemi arrived in Paris with a 15-point lead at the top of the drivers’ championship following victory in Monaco last weekend, and sent out an early warning shot to his rivals by leading the opening qualifying heat.

Vergne finished second for Techeetah to advance to the Super Pole shootout, and was able to lay down an impressive marker that Buemi looked hard-pressed to beat.

The Swiss racer dug deep and produced a last-gasp lap of 1:02.319 to take pole for Renault e.dams by just 0.006 seconds, leaving Vergne a frustrated second.

Jose Maria Lopez took third on the grid for DS Virgin Racing, while Oliver Turvey qualified fourth, but will drop to 14th after a technical change ahead of the Paris race triggered a 10-place grid drop.

Esteban Gutierrez enjoyed his best Formula E qualifying performance to date, finishing fifth for Techeetah ahead of his third ePrix outing since moving out of Formula 1.

Mahindra drivers Nick Heidfeld and Felix Rosenqvist took sixth and seventh respectively ahead of Andretti’s Robin Frijns, while Mitch Evans and Nicolas Prost rounded out the top 10 on the grid.

Lucas di Grassi saw his title hopes take another hit as he could only qualify 14th, with Buemi now 18 points clear at the top of the championship after picking up a bonus score for pole.