Lucas di Grassi

FIA Formula E

Buemi dodges safety cars, FCY to take Paris Formula E win

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Sebastien Buemi kept his cool to dodge a number of possible pitfalls and win Saturday’s Paris ePrix, extending his lead at the top of the Formula E drivers’ championship in the process.

Buemi scored his second pole position of the season in qualifying, edging out home favorite Jean-Eric Vergne by just 0.006 seconds in the final Super Pole shootout.

The duo enjoyed a close battle at the front of the pack for the first half of the race, with Buemi’s two-second lead being wiped away by a Full Course Yellow called following a crash between title rival Lucas di Grassi and Antonio Felix da Costa for Andretti.

The FCY was near enough to the pit window that the majority of the pack came in and swapped cars early, with Vergne pushing to catch Buemi and cutting the gap to one second in the process once the race was back under green.

Vergne’s race came to an end before he could begin to think about a move on Buemi, with a technical failure on his Techeetah car sending him into the wall and sparking a safety car period.

Buemi’s lead of seven seconds over Lopez was eradicated by the safety car, but the defending series champion did not panic, pulling out a healthy buffer once the race got back underway.

Buemi’s advantage was given one final challenge when another safety car was called in the closing stages after di Grassi crashed when chasing the fastest lap. However, it ended up playing into his hands when race control announced that the checkered flag would be shown under the safety car.

The win was Buemi’s fifth in six races so far this season, and extends his Formula E championship lead to 43 points over di Grassi, who failed to score a single point after his late shunt and a penalty for not meeting the minimum pit stop time.

Lopez took second for DS Virgin Racing, marking the three-time WTCC champion’s best result in Formula E so far, while Nick Heidfeld completed the podium for Mahindra in third place.

Felix Rosenqvist followed close behind his team-mate to take P4 ahead of Nicolas Prost, who gained a position from Robin Frijns when the Dutchman received a five second time penalty. Frijns was eventually classified sixth.

Nelson Piquet Jr. finished the race seventh for NextEV NIO ahead of Tom Dillmann, who was eight on debut for Venturi. Mitch Evans scored Jaguar’s third points finish in Formula E in P9, while Stephane Sarrazin rounded out the top 10.

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.

Buemi captures first Formula E pole of season in Monaco

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MONACO – Defending Formula E drivers’ champion Sebastien Buemi swept to pole position for Saturday’s Monaco ePrix after edging out perennial rival Lucas di Grassi in qualifying.

Buemi made a perfect start to the year by winning the first three races, only to finish a lowly 14th last time out in Mexico City, allowing di Grassi to cut the gap in the drivers’ standings.

The Swiss driver finished third in the opening heats as Jean-Eric Vergne topped the timesheets, but Buemi dug deep and turn in a best lap of 53.313s in the Super Pole shootout to take pole position.

The result marked Buemi’s first pole since last year’s London ePrix, and is the first time that he has shared a front row with di Grassi since their infamous clash at Battersea Park.

Nelson Piquet Jr. put in an impressive display for NextEV NIO, taking third on the grid, while Vergne and Venturi’s Maro Engel ended the session fourth and fifth respectively.

Street circuit specialist Felix Rosenqvist narrowly missed out on a place in the Super Pole shootout, finishing sixth for Mahindra, with teammate Nick Heidfeld two places further back in P8. DS Virgin Racing drivers Jose Maria Lopez and Sam Bird were seventh and 10th respectively as Daniel Abt slotted into P9.

Recent Formula 1 driver Esteban Gutierrez’s second qualifying session saw him finish within a second of teammate Vergne, yet this was only good enough for P14 due to the close-knit nature of the field. Adam Carroll, Nicolas Prost and Jerome d’Ambrosio all encountered issues, leaving them to fill out the bottom three positions on the grid.

The Monaco ePrix takes place at 4pm local time in Monaco (10am ET) today.

Formula E returns Monaco with the title fight alive again

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MONACO – Formula E makes its return to the streets of Monaco this weekend following a year’s break with the championship fight between Sebastien Buemi and Lucas di Grassi on a knife-edge.

Monaco first played host to Formula E back in 2014 during the all-electric series’ inaugural season as Sebastien Buemi became the first man to win more than one ePrix.

Fast forward two years, and the Swiss driver now has nine victories and a championship under his belt, with his hat-trick of wins to start the 2016/17 season thrusting him to the top of the title standings.

Buemi looked unstoppable at the head of the field until the fourth round of the year in Mexico City, when Formula E’s most dramatic race to date saw ABT Schaeffler Audi Sport’s di Grassi come back into contention.

Despite suffering damage and almost going one lap down, di Grassi rolled the dice on an ambitious strategy that worked out thanks to a couple of safety car periods and some impressive energy saving to get to the end and cross the line first.

With Buemi finishing outside of the points following an off-colour weekend that ended with a 12th-place finish, di Grassi slashed his rival’s advantage in the title race to just five points.

“I watched the race a couple of times and it was difficult to believe! From inside the cockpit, there was a different perspective,” di Grassi told NBC Sports.

“I only managed to win because the team managed to do a fantastic job with the strategy call, and with fixing the rear wing at the beginning. It was a mega race, my best Formula E victory so far. I’m pretty pleased with it.”

So as it has been for all three of Formula E’s seasons so far, the stage is set for another Buemi-di Grassi barnstormer this Saturday. But the Brazilian does not believe that the championship is something to yet have in mind.

“It’s very early to be talking about the championship. We’re round five, there’s another eight to go,” di Grassi said.

“Everything can happen. To be honest, JEV is quick, other guys are quick, Nico Prost is there. We just need that one bad weekend for everything to change again. At the moment we have to focus on winning races and collecting good points and that’s it.”

For Buemi, di Grassi’s revival has not been without its fair share of good fortune.

“I don’t want to sound rude but because they made mistakes it turned out to be some luck,” Buemi said. “I mean in qualifying in Hong Kong, he had a crash and because of that he had an accident in the first lap and because of the accident and because of this there was a safety car, they tend to have a very risky strategy in Mexico and in Hong Kong and it worked out very well.

“So congratulations to them but I am not sure it will be like that every weekend, so clearly I’m going to focus on not doing mistakes myself but they have made quite a few this season already.”

The circuit used in Monaco is similar to that in Formula 1, albeit much shorter. Instead of heading up the hill at Sainte Devote, drivers take a sharp right that leads them down a straight that ordinarily acts as the escape road for the Nouvelle Chicane.

The field will rejoin at the Chicane before completing the rest of the ‘regular’ Monaco lap, heading through Tabac, Swimming Pool and Las Rascasse before crossing the line to complete a lap.

The Monaco ePrix sees the third Formula E campaign edge towards its half-way mark, with the three double-header rounds to close out the season in Berlin (June 10-11), New York (July 15-16) and Montreal (July 29-30) now making up for half of the schedule in this campaign.

Following the Monaco race, the series will head to Paris just one week later on May 20, marking its first back-to-back race weekends.

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Di Grassi calls Mexico Formula E win ‘one of the best races of my life’

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Lucas di Grassi has called his last-to-first charge to victory in Saturday’s Mexico City ePrix “one of the best races of my life” as he slashed the gap to Formula E championship leader Sebastien Buemi.

Di Grassi qualified a lowly 18th on Saturday before being hit on the opening lap of the race, prompting the ABT Schaeffler Audi Sport team to pit the Brazilian early and complete a rear wing change.

After narrowly avoiding going a lap down, di Grassi made a second stop ahead of schedule after a safety car period, swapping cars to give himself track position once the leading drivers all pitted.

Despite having far less energy with which to complete the race, di Grassi managed the situation well and kept clear to take a memorable victory at the Autodromo Hermanos Rodriguez.

“I had a very poor qualifying today so I started at the back. Somebody crashed into my back, broke my rear wing,” di Grassi explained.

“There was a safety car, I came back, I was last. And then the safety car came about Lap 18. By that moment, when I did the stop, I thought that after the safety car went out and I had a 25 second lead to the next car when they exited the pits with half the race to go, I think I could have fought for the win, because I was roughly two seconds off and there was 14 laps remaining in that moment.

“So I thought that it was going to be tight but I could have made it. When the second safety car came and I had much less energy than those guys, I went on the radio because the safety car came in and the car was moving already. In my head I’d lost the race in that moment, because I was not able to hold them up with the amount of energy I had.

“And then luckily I had Jerome [d’Ambrosio] behind me with a little bit of hold up. I managed to create a gap and kept on just using regen, just tried to be as energy-efficient as possible, just trying to focus on my race until the last corner and just celebrated like crazy.

“For me it was one of the best races of my life in terms of how I drove the second stint, of how energy efficient I had to be.”

The result saw di Grassi end Buemi’s win streak at three races and sliced the Renault driver’s championship lead from 29 to just five points as he could only finish 13th.

Formula E returns in Monaco on May 13.