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Buemi ends Formula E win drought with controlled display in Berlin

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BERLIN, Germany – Sebastien Buemi ended his Formula E win drought by claiming a controlled victory in Saturday’s Berlin ePrix to move to within one point of the lead of the drivers’ championship ahead of the final round in London at the beginning of July.

Starting second, Buemi managed to seize the lead from pole-sitter Jean-Eric Vergne at the first corner before enjoying a spirited battle with the Frenchman through the opening stages of the race.

An opportunistic pass at Turn 5 on lap six paid off for Buemi, putting him into a lead that he only relinquished through the pit stop phase.

The Renault e.dams driver’s advantage stood at 10 seconds after the car swaps, but a late safety car called for Loic Duval’s crash put him under pressure for the final two laps of the race.

However, Buemi was able to keep his cool and sweep to his third victory of the season, his first since the Punta del Este ePrix back in December.

Buemi will go to the final double-header round in London with only a one point deficit in the drivers’ championship after leader Lucas di Grassi could only finish third.

Di Grassi had qualified down in 10th place, but battled his way up into third ahead of the final two laps of green flag running.

The ABT Schaeffler Audi Sport team gave di Grassi’s teammate, Daniel Abt, the call to move aside in second place and let the Brazilian past, only for the German to not adhere to this order for fear of losing a podium position.

Abt was able to cross the line second and record his best-ever result in Formula E, while di Grassi was forced to settle for third. He is also subject to a post-race investigation from the stewards for allegedly speeding under a full course yellow.

Nicolas Prost’s difficult run of form continued as he could only finish fourth in the second Renault e.dams car, while Vergne bounced back from losing his front wing just before the car swaps to finish fifth for DS Virgin Racing. Teammate Sam Bird had run with him up front early on, only to also sustain damage to his car that left him to settle for 11th at the flag.

Robin Frijns led Andretti’s charge in sixth place, and was joined in the points by teammate Simona de Silvestro as she recorded her second top-10 finish in Formula E by crossing the line ninth.

Nick Heidfeld charged from the back of the field after being excluded from qualifying to finish seventh ahead of Mike Conway, while Stephane Sarrazin’s pit lane start failed to hold him back too much as he picked up the final point for P10.

Max Verstappen shows speed in Austria; Lewis Hamilton lacking pace

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SPIELBERG, Austria — Red Bull driver Max Verstappen posted the fastest time Friday, and six-time Formula One champion Lewis Hamilton lacked pace in the second practice session for the Styrian Grand Prix.

Verstappen was 0.043 seconds quicker than Valtteri Bottas – Hamilton’s teammate at Mercedes – and 0.217 ahead of Racing Point driver Sergio Perez.

“The car already feels better than last week, the balance is a lot nicer and we have made a good step,” said Verstappen, who did not finish last Sunday’s season-opening Austrian GP after starting from second.

“It is too early to say how we are looking against Mercedes, but we are quite happy. We have tried a few different directions to understand the car a bit more and we are heading the right way.”

Hamilton was only sixth fastest, about 0.7 seconds slower than Verstappen. Hamilton spent a chunk of time in the garage while his team worked on his car.

“It was quite far off, so there’s a lot of work to do in the background to figure it out,” he said. “Others out there are quick and Valtteri’s obviously got good pace.”

Despite adding a new front wing to its car, struggling Ferrari had a dismal afternoon.

Charles Leclerc was only ninth quickest and 1 second slower than Verstappen, while teammate Sebastian Vettel lagged about 2 seconds behind Verstappen in 16th.

Daniel Ricciardo lost control of his Renault car early into the second session, swerving left off the track and thudding backward into a protective tire wall. He climbed out unharmed, other than a slight limp, but the left rear tire was mangled and the car was lifted off the track by a crane.

Alexander Albon spun twice, the Red Bull driver’s second spin taking him right off the track and into gravel.

Earlier, Perez was fastest in the first practice ahead of Verstappen and Bottas, with Hamilton fourth quickest and Vettel only 10th in sunny conditions.

That session was briefly interrupted when Nicholas Latifi’s Williams car pulled over to the side with a gearbox issue.

The incident brought out yellow flags, forcing drivers to slow down. But McLaren driver Lando Norris overtook Pierre Gasly’s AlphaTauri and got a three-place grid penalty for Sunday’s race.

Norris, 20, finished third at the Austrian GP last weekend, becoming the youngest British driver in F1 history to get on the podium and third youngest in F1.

The upcoming race is changing names from last week but is at the same track. It is surrounded by the Styrian mountains.

A third and final practice will be held on Saturday morning before qualifying in the afternoon, with heavy rain and storms in the forecast.

If third practice and qualifying are washed out, drivers take their grid positions from where they placed in second practice.

“It would definitely suck if we didn’t get to qualify,” said Hamilton, who started fifth and finished fourth last weekend. “It would make it challenging.”

However, qualifying also could be moved to Sunday morning.

“I don’t expect to be on pole position with this (practice) lap,” Verstappen said.