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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.

Gasly confirmed as Buemi’s replacement for Formula E in NYC

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Pierre Gasly will make his FIA Formula E Championship debut this weekend in the New York City ePrix after being confirmed to replace championship leader Sebastien Buemi, who will be on full FIA World Endurance Championship duty at the 6 Hours of the Nürburgring.

Gasly will step into Buemi’s Renault e.dams entry but only following a late arrival into New York following Red Bull simulator work. Apparent efforts to have gotten Buemi to only have to miss one of the two rounds of the NYC doubleheader have failed, and the Swiss driver will be in his usual Toyota TS050 Hybrid alongside Anthony Davidson and Kazuki Nakajima.

Although Gasly isn’t in a Formula 1 race seat this year he’s still been plenty busy in his Red Bull test role and with racing Super Formula in Japan, same as Felix Rosenqvist is.

No quotes were issued from Gasly in advance of the weekend but Renault e.dams principals Alain Prost and Jean-Paul Driot were less than thrilled at the much discussed weekend clash between the two championships.

“I deeply regret this clash between the WEC and Formula E which could have been avoided,” Prost said. “However, we have to move forward and we are very pleased to welcome Pierre Gasly. Racing in New York is going to be a challenge as he makes his Formula E debut at the end of the championship.”

Driot added, “This situation is regrettable because even without this clash, the championship is not a certainty. Despite this unfortunate setback, I hope that with Pierre Gasly’s invaluable assistance, Renault e.dams will be able to defend its winning chances in Montreal.”

Buemi holds a 32-point lead over Lucas di Grassi heading into the weekend with a maximum 58 points possible during the pair of races (157-125). Rosenqvist, who’s third in points, is outside that gap to overtake on only 86 points scored, 71 back of Buemi.

In the team’s championship, Renault e.dams holds – fittingly – a 58-point lead over ABT Schaeffler Audi Sport, 229-171.

WEC Nurburgring entry list confirms FE subs, Buemi set to miss NYC

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Pipo Derani and Filipe Albuquerque are among the drivers substituting for Formula E regulars in the FIA World Endurance Championship round at the Nürburgring next month, as confirmed with the publication of the entry list for the latter event.

The clash between Formula E and WEC on the July 16 weekend has been a long-running saga for both series, with no resolution workable due to a lack of communication regarding the placement of the Formula 1 race in Germany that was ultimately canceled.

With drivers racing in both series, a number were left with a key dilemma to make when picking which race to entry, ending with a majority opting to partake in Formula E’s double-header race weekend in New York.

Two drivers have chosen to prioritize WEC, including Formula E championship leader Sebastien Buemi, who is bound by his contract with Toyota’s LMP1 team. Jose Maria Lopez is also in a similar position, racing in the sister TS050 Hybrid at the Nürburgring.

Here’s a run-down of the drivers who had to work around the clashes and where they’ve ended up, and who will be replacing them.

Sebastien Buemi

Formula E championship leader Buemi had hoped to be racing in New York – where he could have sewn up the title – but is now risking a 50-plus point loss by missing the double-header.

Buemi said that his Le Mans result would decide whether or not he could have the chance to skip the Nürburgring, only for the No. 8 Toyota crew to have a miserable race, finishing eighth overall after two hours in the garage.

Buemi’s replacement for New York will need to be decided in the next 24 hours when the race stewards are informed of the entry list. Red Bull youngster Pierre Gasly is thought to be leading the chase for the seat.

Jose Maria Lopez

Like Buemi, Lopez was tied down by his Toyota contract and was not able to get out of his duties, meaning he will be missing New York as well.

Lopez will return to the No. 7 Toyota for the Nürburgring round, having been moved into the third car for Le Mans given his lack of prior experience following his Silverstone crash and the subsequent injury that forced him to miss Spa.

Lopez will be replaced at DS Virgin Racing in New York by Alex Lynn, the team’s reserve driver. Lynn, in turn, will miss the Nürburgring race with G-Drive in LMP2, with Ben Hanley taking his place.

Sam Bird

Lopez’s Formula E teammate, Sam Bird, is another driver who said his dilemma would be solved by his Le Mans result. The Briton is fourth in the WEC GT drivers’ championship with AF Corse and just 14 points off the lead, yet he opted to prioritize his Formula E duties in New York.

Bird will be replaced at AF Corse in the No. 71 Ferrari 488 GTE by Toni Vilander, who races in the IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship for Risi Competizione and featured at Le Mans earlier this month.

Nicolas Prost

Renault e.dams appeared the face the prospect of having neither of its regular drivers in place for New York, only for Buemi’s teammate Nicolas Prost to put his Formula E duties first.

Prost has raced with Vaillante Rebellion Racing in LMP2 so far this season, but will step back for the Nürburgring. Seasoned sportscar racer Filipe Albuquerque takes his place.

Nelson Piquet Jr.

Nelson Piquet Jr. is another driver who had the same decision as Prost, putting Formula E over his duties with Rebellion in the sister Oreca 07 Gibson. Piquet will be replaced in the No. 13 car by Pipo Derani, whose three-race stint with Ford Chip Ganassi Racing came to an end at Le Mans.

Jean-Eric Vergne

Jean-Eric Vergne has made a flying start to life in the WEC this year with Manor, regularly featuring at the top of the timesheets, and stood out at Le Mans with some mammoth quintuple stints.

Vergne won’t be at the Nürburgring, though, putting his Formula E duties with Techeetah – a team he also has commercial interests in – first. Roberto Merhi takes his place, returning to Manor after previously racing for the team in both F1 and WEC.

Buemi inherits Berlin race two win after Rosenqvist penalty

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Sebastien Buemi’s one-day dip in luck took a swing back on Sunday in the second Berlin ePrix round of the FIA Formula E Championship season, as the Renault e.dams driver took his sixth win on the season in eight races.

Buemi was excluded from Saturday’s race owing to illegal tire pressures, after driving from 14th to sixth place on the road. That became fifth following a five-second time penalty assessed to Techeetah’s Jean-Eric Vergne for an unsafe release from his pit stop.

Yet it was unsafe release that switched the outcome and the results around on Sunday, with race one winner Felix Rosenqvist issued a 10-second time penalty from the stewards for an unsafe release from his stop.

The Mahindra Racing driver had dominated the opening stage of the race from pole and led Buemi into the pit stops on Lap 23 of the 46-lap race, as he sought a repeat of his Saturday win.

But Rosenqvist was released into the path of teammate Nick Heidfeld, who was pitting from 13th place, which forced Heidfeld around the outside of Rosenqvist and nearly into another team’s pit gantry. Heidfeld stopped his car without contact while Rosenqvist, despite being held up, still exited the pits ahead of Buemi.

The penalty assessed to Rosenqvist meant he would need to push even harder to ensure a 10-second gap to then-third placed Lucas di Grassi of ABT Schaeffler Audi Sport was still there, even though he won on the road.

So while Rosenqvist was first across the line, it was Buemi who was the winner on the day.

“It was a bit on a plate (with the penalty) but I’m really happy,” Buemi told Formula E’s Dario Franchitti on the cooldown lap.

Di Grassi came third following a sterling move on Vergne for third into Turn 1 on Lap 33, aided in part by FanBoost but with Vergne unable to defend. It was a move Daniel Abt, di Grassi’s teammate, wasn’t able to repeat a lap later before Vergne started to fall further back in the later stages of the race.

Abt did make it through eventually with Jose Maria Lopez also doing so on Lap 40 in his DS Virgin Racing entry to complete the top five.

Sam Bird, Lopez’s teammate, was next to take a run at Vergne over the next several laps with Nico Prost of Renault e.dams having a front row seat to the battle. But Vergne held off Bird and Prost for sixth.

Oliver Turvey was ninth for NEXT EV NIO while Heidfeld ended 10th in the final points paying position.

Rosenqvist wasn’t the only one penalized on the day. Faraday Future Dragon Racing’s Jerome d’Ambrosio received a drive-through penalty for his pit stop not meeting the minimum required time on pit lane. That brought Heidfeld, who’d started last and risen as high as 10th in the first stint but used more energy doing so, back to the final points paying position in 10th.

In a cool touch of fan engagement, Formula E gave one lucky fan the chance to present the podium finishers with their trophies after the race.

The New York City ePrix from the Red Hook neighborhood in Brooklyn is next, July 15-16. Like Berlin this weekend, it’s a doubleheader weekend.

Buemi entered the day with a 22-point lead over di Grassi and will gain 10 points back with the 25-15 points score this race. The Swiss driver is not expected to race in New York, owing to his FIA World Endurance Championship commitments the same weekend at the Nürburgring with Toyota Gazoo Racing.

Buemi excluded from Berlin race one for illegal tire pressures

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Two years ago, the course of the FIA Formula E Championship campaign took a major turn at the Tempelhof airport circuit in Berlin, as Lucas di Grassi was disqualified for an illegal front wing modification. It eventually brought the championship to Nelson Piquet Jr. in the electric open-wheel series’ first season.

Two years later, the course of the FIA Formula E Championship may be set to take a major turn again at the Tempelhof airport circuit in Berlin, and di Grassi looks to be the beneficiary of it.

Renault e.dams driver Sebastien Buemi has been excluded from the race one results in Berlin owing to illegal tire pressures, FIA Formula E posted only a few hours after the checkered flag.

Buemi finished sixth on the road after starting 14th, and was promoted to fifth place following Jean-Eric Vergne being assessed a five-second time penalty for an unsafe pit release.

With di Grassi finishing second to first-time winner Felix Rosenqvist of Mahindra Racing, it brought the ABT Schaeffler Audi Sport driver to within 32 points of Buemi (142 to 110) unofficially, with Buemi having scored 10 points and di Grassi banking 21 – 18 for second and three for pole.

Now though, with Buemi excluded, that is now a 21 to 0 points gap, and it has halved the margin from 43 points entering race one to 22 points going into Sunday’s race two.

And with Buemi set to miss the New York City ePrix next month, a doubleheader race, owing to his FIA World Endurance Championship commitments with Toyota Gazoo Racing, suddenly what looks like a foregone conclusion that Buemi would waltz to the Formula E season three title has been turned on its head.

More to follow…