Reigning champion Sebastian Buemi beat arch rival Lucas Di Grassi to victory at a dramatic and action packed opening round of the 2016/2017 Formula E Championship last Sunday in Hong Kong. The Swiss driver managed to hold onto his lead in the final few laps, beating his Brazilian competitor by a little over two seconds. Hong Kong, a new venue for Season three along with Marrakesh, Brussels, New York and Montreal (as well as the return of Monaco to the calendar) provided exciting racing throughout the 45 laps, the 1.8km Central Harbour front Circuit popular with the drivers and the fans. A surprising qualifying saw both NextEV NIO cars lock out the front row of the grid, in pure contrast from their form last season which saw both drivers struggle throughout. They were lined up ahead of the two DS Virgin drivers and eventual race winner Sebastian Buemi fifth alongside Felix Rosenqvist in the Mahindra who completed row three. A spectacular new venue for Season 3: Nelson Piquet Jr leads the field through Turn one. Pole man Nelson Piquet Jr. started well and held his lead from teammate Oliver Turvey throughout the opening laps however further down the field drama on lap one saw Ma Qing Hua run into the back of stationary Nico Prost, launching the Techeetah car into the air and leaving an unsighted Lucas Di Grassi nowhere to go other than into the back of the Chinese ex WTCC driver. Di Grassi lost his front wing and Ma was left with substantial damage to both the suspension and wings. Di Grassi’s ABT Schaeffler Audi Sport teammate Daniel Abt also damaged his rear wing after contact in the opening laps. Ma Qing Hua limped round to the pit lane to jump into his second car while both ABT Schaeffler Audi Sport drivers were given black and orange mechanical flags by race direction in the following laps for their wing damage. Felix Rosenqvist was the next to come to blows on the slippery surface of the waterfront circuit, losing control at Turn 9 and going backwards into the barriers on lap 15, losing his rear wing. It was on lap 17 that the race would be turned on its head, when a yellow flag caused by a crash from 3 time World Touring Car Champion Jose Maria Lopez brought out the safety car, with pole man and race leader Nelson Piquet Jr. just managing to avoid the stricken DS Virgin car as he approached the tight Turn three and four chicane where Lopez was planted in the barrier. Piquet dropped to third in his attempt to recover onto the circuit, and so Lopez’s DS Virgin teammate Sam Bird inherited the lead after taking 2nd place from the other NextEV NIO driver and fellow Brit Oliver Turvey a few laps earlier. A mid race crash from 3 time WTCC Champion Jose Maria Lopez would prove race changing. Bird resumed racing after the safety car period ended on lap 22 and the majority of the field including Piquet Jr. (whose car was miraculously undamaged) as well as Prost, Heidfeld, D’Ambrosio and Duval all pitted. Bird extended his lead over the following few laps until his stop on lap 25, where a disastorious pit stop would leave the Briton stationary in his pit box for an extra 45 seconds due to a technical issue, handing the lead to Buemi, who had pitted prior to the safety car and stayed out of trouble throughout the opening portion of the race. Despite pressure from numerous other drivers, Buemi outclassed all that challenged him. Buemi held on for the final part of the race to take the win ahead of Di Grassi, who held onto second despite touring through the pit lane twice in the 45 laps. Di Grassi looked threatening at times but could never challenge Buemi and so the new season resumed where the 2015/2016 season finished, with the two title protagonists from last season at the front battling for victories. Mahindra followed up their strong top 10 qualifying result with a rostrum finish for Nick Heidfeld, while Felix Rosenqvist managed to secure the single point for the fastest lap, a strong start for an ever improving team. Buemi’s teammate Nicolas Prost managed to finish 4th in the other Renault e.Dams, while an inspired strategy from MS Amlin Andretti saw both Antonio Felix de Costa and Robin Frijns surge through the field in the closing laps to secure 5th and 6th for the team.