Lucas di Grassi

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Buemi’s FE points lead intact despite New York no-show

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RED HOOK, NY – Sebastien Buemi will head into the final double-header round of the third FIA Formula E season with his points lead intact despite missing last weekend’s races in New York City.

Defending Formula E champion Buemi was forced to skip the inaugural New York City ePrix due to his clashing commitments with Toyota’s LMP1 team in the FIA World Endurance Championship at the Nürburgring.

Despite late attempts from Buemi and his Renault e.dams team to try and take some part in the New York weekend, Toyota refused to budge, giving title rival Lucas di Grassi two races to try and cut down the 32-point gap.

Di Grassi struggled through qualifying, starting P10 on Saturday and P9 on Sunday, but was able to battle back through to fourth and fifth in the respective races.

Leaving New York with a haul of 22 points, di Grassi sits 10 back from Buemi in the drivers’ championship with two races remaining, but the Brazilian nevertheless feels good about his chances.

“I think 22 points, I’m not disappointed with it. We have to improve a lot if we want to win in Montreal,” di Grassi said.

“I feel more confident than ever. With the experience that I have with Formula E, you know that it can go from hell to heaven any weekend, any race. We just have to do our best, try and win both races and see how it goes.

“It will be difficult, but nevertheless, we’re going to try very hard. The championship is in my hands. If I win both races, I am champion – no mathematics to be done. To win both races, that’s the aim. Let’s see how it goes.”

Buemi’s race at the Nürburgring seemed to be over before it had begun when he suffered a fuel pump issue on the formation lap, forcing Toyota into a lengthy repair of its TS050 Hybrid car.

Alongside Anthony Davidson and Kazuki Nakajima, Buemi was able to battle his way back to fourth place, trailing the three other LMP1 hybrids.

Le Mans updates: Crash delays qualifying; Conway to top; di Grassi out

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A crash for Erik Maris in the No. 33 Eurasia Motorsport Ligier JS P217 Gibson has halted the second of three qualifying sessions for this year’s 24 Hours of Le Mans, but not before the overall and LMP2 provisional pole times have improved.

Maris’ crash has required extensive repairs to the ARMCO barrier; it will delay track activity until at least 8:15 p.m. local time at the Circuit de la Sarthe (2:15 p.m. ET). Maris got out of the car under his own power and is going through medical checks.

The session is due to run until 9 p.m. local time although may be extended into the one-hour break between this second session and the third and final qualifying session, which runs from 10 p.m. to midnight. Wednesday’s first qualifying session was delayed 20 minutes at the start and ran for only an hour and 40 minutes.

Before the accident, Mike Conway improved upon teammate Kamui Kobayashi’s best time set Wednesday night in the No. 7 Toyota TS050 Hybrid. The Englishman posted a best time of 3:18.651, a tenth and a half up on the 3:18.793 time, which now stands as the provisional pole in the car these two drivers share with Stephane Sarrazin.

While the No. 7 car improved its time, the No. 8 car has had a precautionary engine change.

The LMP2 mark however was lowered significantly. Thomas Laurent took the No. 38 Jackie Chan DC Racing Oreca 07 Gibson to a blistering lap of 3:26.776 in the car he shares with ex-Audi man and now ‘Bentley Boy’ Oliver Jarvis and Ho-Pin Tung. Wednesday’s provisional pole time was set by fellow Frenchman Mathieu Vaxviere in the No. 28 TDS Racing Oreca of 3:29.333.

Neither of the GTE provisional pole times have changed compared to Wednesday; Aston Martin Racing still holds the top spot in GTE-Pro and GTE-Am.

DI GRASSI OUT OF ACTION

There is one key GTE change though and it has nothing to do with the timesheets.

Lucas di Grassi is out of this year’s Le Mans with a broken fibula which requires surgery. It will bring Italian veteran Michele Rugolo into the No. 51 AF Corse Ferrari 488 GTE alongside James Calado and Alessandro Pier Guidi.

Di Grassi, who races full-time in the FIA Formula E Championship with ABT Schaeffler Audi Sport, posted a series of tweets for updates.

Di Grassi takes Berlin Formula E pole, Buemi 14th for Saturday race

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BERLIN, Germany – Lucas di Grassi swept to his second pole position of the 2016/17 FIA Formula E season on Saturday in Berlin, edging out Jose Maria Lopez by one-thousandth of a second at the front of the pack.

Fighting back from a disastrous Paris ePrix that saw his deficit at the top of the drivers’ championship swell to 43 points, di Grassi was able to squeeze through to final stage of qualifying before turning in a best lap of 1:08.312 to score his second pole of the season for ABT Schaeffler Audi Sport.

Lopez was left to settle for an agonizing second place, while Felix Rosenqvist – the original leader from the first heats – was third-fastest, less than a tenth off pole. Mahindra Racing teammate Nick Heidfeld was fourth, while Sam Bird rounded out the top five after a scruffy lap in Super Pole.

While di Grassi was able to secure pole, title rival Sebastien Buemi endured his worst qualifying in almost 18 months after a sloppy lap that left him 14th for the start in Berlin.

Jean-Eric Vergne was left disappointed after narrowly missing out on a place in the Super Pole shootout, finishing sixth ahead of Oliver Turvey and Daniel Abt. Following Buemi’s slow lap, Nicolas Prost was left to lead Renault e.dams’ charge in ninth, while Jerome d’Ambrosio rounded out the top 10 for Dragon.

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 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.