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Buemi holds off di Grassi to take Monaco Formula E victory

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MONACO – Sebastien Buemi extended his lead at the top of the FIA Formula E drivers’ championship after holding off title rival Lucas di Grassi in the closing stages of Saturday’s Monaco ePrix, taking his fourth win of the season.

Buemi picked up his first pole of the campaign in qualifying earlier in the day, with long-term rival Lucas di Grassi taking second on the grid to set the stage for another tense battle between the pair.

Buemi made a clean start and forged an early lead over di Grassi through the first stint of the race, but a safety car period following a clash between Nelson Piquet Jr. and Jean-Eric Vergne allowed the Brazilian to close up once again.

With the strategy options on offer to teams removed by the safety car, forcing the majority of runners to pit on the same lap, Buemi was left to fight di Grassi through the second half of the race while keeping a careful eye on energy usage given the extended stint.

Buemi’s lead over di Grassi stood at over a second at one point, but the Brazilian made inroads in the closing stages of the race, leaving the pair to run nose-to-tail in the final few laps.

Di Grassi darted behind Buemi as he looked to make an overtake on the last lap, but the Renault e.dams driver was able to hold on and record his fourth win of the season.

Nick Heidfeld followed the pair home in third place for Mahindra, having gained a position at the start and then benefitted from the clash between Piquet and Vergne. Piquet was able to continue and finished fourth, but Vergne was less fortunate, being eliminated on the spot.

Maro Engel took his best result in Formula E with fifth place for Venturi ahead of Felix Rosenqvist, while Daniel Abt finished seventh for ABT Schaeffler Audi Sport. Esteban Gutierrez was eighth for Techeetah as Antonio Felix da Costa and Nicolas Prost rounded out the points in P9 and P10 respectively.

The next Formula E race takes place in one week’s time in Paris, France.

Daniel Ricciardo to decide soon about moving from Red Bull to another F1 team

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LE CASTELLET, France (AP) Daniel Ricciardo says over the next six weeks he wants to decide between staying at Red Bull or joining another Formula One team for next year.

Ricciardo said on Thursday at the French Grand Prix, “It would be nice to go on the summer break knowing what I am doing.”

F1 is working its way toward its three-week break in August with speculation mounting that Mercedes, Ferrari, and McLaren are interested in luring Ricciardo away from Red Bull for 2019.

“I will be honest, everyone is talking about Mercedes and Ferrari as potential places for me to go, and I am aware that there will be interest from other teams,” he said.

The Australian driver has won seven races in his four-plus seasons with Red Bull. He is fourth in the standings behind leader Sebastian Vettel heading into the race at the Paul Ricard Circuit near Marseille.

Ricciardo’s stock has risen in recent months after his victories in Shanghai and Monaco. His Monaco win was particularly impressive because Ricciardo had to deploy some masterful defensive driving to protect his lead after losing an estimated 25 percent of his engine power.

Ricciardo said he had not directly spoken to rivals Ferrari and Mercedes, but he hedged when asked if his manager had.

“People talk, have coffees, I will leave that one open-ended,” he said with a laugh.

Ricciardo called the decision on whether to go or stay with Red Bull the biggest choice of his career following his decision to leave his native Australia and continue his racing career in Europe over a decade ago.

“For sure the priority is to get a car to win the world title because I really believe I can,” he said. “I am slightly careful because it is easy to think the grass is greener and maybe it is, but I also have it pretty good where I am.

“People do like a change but just to make change for the sake of making a change is not enough for me. I need to find some substance behind it to jump ship.”

Red Bull announced recently it would be ending its 12-year partnership with engine-maker Renault and switching to Honda motors for next year.

Ricciardo was hesitant to endorse or criticize the change, saying he was going to “try to keep putting the pieces together if it is a good move.”

But with the question of the engine manufacturer out of the way, Ricciardo said Red Bull would likely be looking to resolve its drivers’ lineup for next year.

“I haven’t been pushed yet, but I would say that there will be some movement in the next week,” he said. “Whether that is something that gets put down on paper (or not), for sure the discussions will start to ramp up in the next few days.”