The dominant colours at the first day of the Visa London ePrix, held in Battersea Park, were yellow and blue – those of the e.dams-Renault team, which thanks to a victory courtesy of Sebastien Buemi and a seventh place for Nicolas Prost, took the first ever team title.
This was Buemi’s third win of the season, following on from those in Punta del Este and Monaco and it means the fight for the drivers’ title is wide open again, given that series leader Nelson Piquet Jr, finished fifth, also beaten by fellow countryman Lucas di Grassi, who was fourth.
The first and probably decisive building block in Buemi’s victory came shortly after 1pm, when he set the fastest time in qualifying. Starting from what Formula E’s Global Partner christened the number one slot on the grid, the Julius Baer Pole Position, was the key, especially as the start was taken behind the Qualcomm Safety Car.
This decision was taken after Turn 1 had to be modified on safety grounds, so all the cars set off behind the pace car. Just as he did in Monaco on 9 May, Buemi soon set the pace and built up a lead of a handful of seconds, which meant he was able to run the race as he pleased. He richly deserved the haul of 28 points, which means not only does he jump up into second place in the drivers’ classification, but above all, he has closed the gap to the leader to just five points.
The only goal which escaped the Swiss driver was the Visa Fastest Lap Trophy, which went to Lucas di Grassi. Having started third on the grid, the Audi Sport ABT driver had to concentrate more on defending his position from his direct rival in the title fight, than on attacking those in front of him. There were some truly exciting moments in the duel between the two Brazilians, with Piquet trying to make the most of the FanBoost and di Grassi grittily defending, although it was not enough to prevent Jean-Eric Vergne getting past. The Scuderia Ferrari test driver, in his Andretti car, started from fifth, but was one of the fastest in the race, managing to pass both Brazilians.
Jerome D’Ambrosio came home second, racking up his second front running finish in the championship. Dragon Racing’s Belgian driver started from the front row and produced a really impeccable drive, taking a result that’s very important for the team which is still fighting for the runner-up slot in the teams’ classification.
Of the other points finishers, Sam Bird came home sixth, getting the better of fellow countryman, Oliver Turvey, the best of the five rookies, who took a strong ninth place. The remaining points finishers were all French: Prost seventh, Duval eighth and Sarrazin tenth. Just outside the points was Switzerland’s Simona de Silvestro, whose eleventh place was the best result for a woman driver this season.
The tenth race is now over, but there’s barely time to pause for breath: for the first time, a round is made up of two races on consecutive days, much to the delight of the large crowd of Londoners and tourists, who packed Battersea Park on Saturday, filling the grandstands as part of an overall crowd of more than 25,000.
Sunday is the final race of the championship, which will decide the drivers’ title. Yesterday, six of them were in with a chance of being crowned the very first Formula E champion, but now it’s down to just three: Piquet, Buemi and di Grassi. The NEXTEV TCR driver starts with a five point advantage over his e.dams-Renault rival, while Audi Sport ABT’s Brazilian faces a 13 point deficit: with 30 points to play for, anything can still happen.
FIA Formula E Championship – Visa London ePrix (Rd 10) – Results:
1. Sebastien Buemi, e.dams-Renault, 47:54.784s (29 laps)
2. Jerome D’Ambrosio, Dragon Racing, +0.939s
3. Jean-Eric Vergne, Andretti Formula E, +1.667s
4. Lucas di Grassi, Audi Sport ABT, +2.409s
5. Nelson Piquet Jr, NEXTEV TCR, +7.370s
6. Sam Bird, Virgin Racing, +7.762s
7. Nicolas Prost, e.dams-Renault, +8.553s
8. Loic Duval, Dragon Racing, +9.507s
9. Oliver Turvey, NEXTEV TCR, +10.032s
10. Stephane Sarrazin, Venturi, +12.077s
11. Simona de Silvestro, Andretti Formula E, +15.946s
12. Karun Chandhok, Mahindra Racing, +35.595s
13. Nick Heidfeld, Venturi, +41.034s
14. Fabio Leimer, Virgin Racing, +42.697s
15. Jarno Trulli, Trulli, +43.273s
16. Bruno Senna, Mahindra Racing, +48.423s
17. Salvador Duran, Amlin Aguri, +1:01.987s
18. Alex Fontana, Trulli, DNF
19. Daniel Abt, Audi Sport ABT, DNF
20. Sakon Yamamoto, Amlin Aguri, DNF
Driver Standings (After Rd 10):
1. Nelson Piquet Jr 138pts
2. Sebastien Buemi 133pts
3. Lucas di Grassi 125pts
4. Jerome D’Ambrosio 95pts
5. Nicolas Prost 88pts
6. Sam Bird 76pts
7. Jean-Eric Vergne 70pts
8. Antonio Felix da Costa 51pts
9. Daniel Abt 32pts
10. Nick Heidfeld 31pts
Team Standings (After Rd 10):
1. e.dams-Renault 221pts
2. Audi Sport ABT 157pts
3. NEXTEV TCR 144pts
4. Dragon Racing 133pts
5. Andretti Formula E 119pts
6. Virgin Racing 106pts
7. Amlin Aguri 62pts
8. Venturi 50pts
9. Mahindra Racing 46pts
10. Trulli 17pts