Buemi (centre) on the top step of the podium in Monaco.
Today, Sebastien Buemi became the first driver to secure two wins in the FIA Formula E Championship. The Swiss driver won the first ever race of the series to be held in Europe, adding to his previous victory in Punta del Este. It was also the third win for a driver from the e.dams-Renault team, as Nico Prost had come out on top in Miami, thus extending its lead in the teams’ standings.
The race drew a great crowd of around 23,000 spectators which packed the free grandstands and the hospitality areas.
Earlier in the day, Buemi secured pole ahead of championship leader Lucas di Grassi, while Jerome D’Ambrosio and Nelson Piquet Jr lapped fast enough to secure spots on the second row. But it was the race itself that reserved the real thrills and excitement. When the race was only a few seconds old, the leaders managed to escape unharmed, but behind them there was carnage of epic proportions, triggered by Daniel Abt, with a host of drivers involved – Bruno Senna, Jean-Eric Vergne, Loic Duval, Salvador Duran and Vitantonio Liuzzi – while Jaime Alguersuari had already been knocked out before the first corner.
The Qualcomm Safety Car made an immediate appearance and while the extremely efficient Automobile Club de Monaco marshals removed the Brazilian’s and the Spaniard’s cars, the others managed to make their way back to the pits and switch to their second cars, even though in fact their races were irrevocably compromised. At the restart, a lead group developed consisting of Buemi, with di Grassi on his tail, followed by D’Ambrosio, Piquet, Stephane Sarrazin, Nicolas Prost and Sam Bird.
On lap six, the NEXTEV TCR Brazilian made the most of the FanBoost and overtook the Belgian Dragon driver with a super move at Turn 3, to go third. In front, di Grassi stayed in Buemi’s slipstream, but never found the right moment to get past and so decided to pit early on lap 25, going for an undercut. The move didn’t work but only by a few hundredths because Buemi, who had stayed out on track along with Piquet, managed to stay in the lead fending off the attacking move from di Grassi in his Audi Sport ABT car around the outside of the Harbour Hairpin.
In the second stint, di Grassi first tried to stay with Buemi, although he knew the Swiss driver had more energy available, but then had his mirrors full of Piquet with whom he duelled for the lead in the championship. In the end, despite huge efforts from the Long Beach winner, it was di Grassi who came off best in this all-Brazilian battle, crossing the line just over two seconds down on Buemi, while in the closing stages Piquet had to defend from Bird, who tried his utmost to get a foot on the podium at the very last.
Behind the top four, the rest of the points went to D’Ambrosio, Prost, Sarrazin, Charles Pic, Antonio Felix da Costa and Nick Heidfeld, while Scott Speed, eighth at the flag, was dropped back to 12th, right behind Jarno Trulli and ahead of Karun Chandhok.
Not seeing the flag, but making his mark on the event, was Vergne, who set the fastest lap. He did it in 55.157s, thanks partly to his FanBoost, which was worth two points to the Frenchman, as well as the Visa Fastest Lap Award. It’s the first time this award has been given, a partnership between Formula E and the electronic payment services provider.
After seven races, Lucas di Grassi still leads the drivers’ classification on 93 points, four more than Nelson Piquet Jr. Today’s win puts Buemi back in the hunt for the title: the Swiss driver is third on 83 points, six more than team-mate Prost.
In the teams’ classification, e.dams-Renault has made a significant step forward, the French team now has a 45 point lead over Audi Sport ABT (160 to 115) while Virgin Racing has closed up even further to NEXTEV TCR (94 to 93.) Among the results, worthy of note is the fact the Venturi team managed to get both its drivers into the points at this its home race with Sarrazin seventh and Heidfeld 10th.
The historic venue of Monaco kicked off the European part of the Formula E season and now there are new settings to explore. The next round, the DHL Berlin ePrix, takes place in a fortnight, on 23 May at Berlin’s Tempelhof Airport.
FIA Formula E Championship – Monaco ePrix (Rd 7) – Race results:
1. Sébastien Buemi, e.dams-Renault, 48m05s225
2. Lucas di Grassi, Audi Sport ABT, +2.154s
3. Nelson Piquet Jr, NEXTEV TCR, +4.634s
4. Sam Bird, Virgin Racing, +4.801s
5. Jerome D’Ambrosio, Dragon Racing, +5.881
6. Nicolas Prost, e.dams-Renault, +11.032s
7. Stéphane Sarrazin, Venturi, +26.472s
8. Charles Pic, NEXTEV TCR, +49.538s
9. Antonio Felix da Costa, Amlin Aguri, +52.658s
10. Nick Heidfeld, Venturi, +52.936s
11. Jarno Trulli, Trulli, +58.984s
12. Scott Speed, Andretti, +1m14.138s
13. Karun Chandhok, Mahindra Racing, +1 lap
NC Vitantonio Liuzzi, Trulli, DNF
NC Jean-Eric Vergne, Andretti , DNF
NC Salvador Duran, Amlin Aguri, DNF
NC Loïc Duval, Dragon Racing, DNF
NC Daniel Abt, Audi Sport ABT, DNF
NC Jaime Alguersuari, Virgin Racing, DNF
NC Bruno Senna, Mahindra Racing, DNF
Lucas di Grassi – 93
Nelson Piquet Jr – 89
Sébastien Buemi – 83
Nicolas Prost – 77
Sam Bird – 64
Jerome D’Ambrosio – 52
Antonio Felix da Costa – 45
Jean-Eric Vergne – 34
Jaime Alguersuari – 30
Bruno Senna – 28
e.dams-Renault – 160
Audi Sport ABT – 115
Virgin Racing – 94
NEXTEV TCR – 93
Andretti – 82
Dragon Racing – 76
Amlin Aguri – 48
Mahindra Racing – 46
Venturi – 16
Trulli – 12