As if somebody had walked into a room and flipped the light switch, today’s FIA Formula E race in Buenos Aires went from calm to crazy.
Let’s count the ways this 35-lapper descended into madness.
1) Pole sitter Sebastien Buemi ran up front all day on the streets of the Puerto Madero district until Lap 23. Going into a chicane that had been the site of an earlier crash involving Karun Chandhok, Buemi appears to clip the inside wall and then runs over the curbing. This breaks his suspension and ends his race.
2) Buemi’s incident hands the lead to championship leader Lucas di Grassi, who had been 3-for-3 in podium finishes this season.
It looks like he’s in position for his second win of the 2014-15 campaign, but on Lap 27, he crashes in the same chicane that got Buemi and Chandhok.
3) Now it’s Nick Heidfeld’s turn in the lead for the Venturi team. In September’s season opener at Beijing, Heidfeld battled for the lead on the final lap before contact with Nicolas Prost had him launched airborne over a curb and into a barrier. So does fate smile upon him here?
Nope. With three laps to go, race stewards tagged him for speeding in pit lane and had him come in to serve a drive-through penalty.
That left Antonio Felix da Costa as the new leader, but while the drivers behind him got pushy in their final battles for position, he managed to bring home his Amlin Aguri machine and win over Prost and third-place finisher Nelson Piquet Jr.
“I knew we had the pace,” da Costa said. “I had some issues in qualifying, so I’m really happy we managed to get through the field. I kept a bit of energy to be able to attack Heidfeld in the end but then it wasn’t necessary after he got a penalty…We have to keep working hard to continue like that.”
While da Costa celebrates, the F-E championships have been impacted as the series takes a two-month break before returning to action on March 14 in Miami.
Di Grassi’s 18-point lead in the driver’s race has been chopped to 10 over Putrajaya race winner Sam Bird, who finished seventh in today’s event. Buemi has slipped to third in the standings, down 15 points.
But despite Buemi’s DNF, Prost’s runner-up performance kept e.dams-Renault atop the team championship by an 11-point gap over Bird’s Virgin Racing outfit.
Bird’s teammate, Jaime Alguersuari, survived multiple run-ins with competitors in the last few laps to finish fourth today. Bruno Senna rounded out the Top 5 finishers.
As for American driver Marco Andretti, his F-E debut didn’t go as well as he would have liked. The IndyCar veteran finished 13th for the Andretti team.
He tweeted after the race that during a caution at the mid-way point, he had been held behind the safety car for an unspecified reason. According to him, that put him one lap down before overheating issues hurt his car later on.