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Formula E-Brief: Buemi bounces back in Punta del Este

Discussion in 'Motorsports' started by R.J. O'Connell, Dec 23, 2015.

  1. R.J. O'Connell

    R.J. O'Connell

    Punta buemi.jpg
    Arriving later and more haphazardly written than ever, the Formula E-Brief returns to chronicle Sebastien Buemi's victory in the Punta del Este ePrix! The Renault e.Dams ace continues to chip away at the first historic milestones in Formula E - becoming the first repeat winner of an event in the series' young history with his victory on Saturday.

    Formula E's annual trek to the picturesque shores of the Atlantic Coast in Uruguay closed out the 2015 racing calendar in style. Truth be told, there are some "big league" street circuits that can't match Punta del Este - a track that shares many characteristics with Surfer's Paradise in Australia - for flow, overtaking opportunities, or visual ambience. It's nestled in a budding motorsport nation - the home country of young IndyCar prospect Santiago Urrutia, and his hero, the late, great, Gonzalo Rodriguez.

    Buemi had to fight back from a mistake in the final round of qualifying that left him fifth on the grid, as the Double Dragons - that'd be polesitter Jerome d'Ambrosio and Loic Duval of Dragon Racing - locked out the front row for the race. But having already shown blistering pace in practice, Buemi rapidly clawed through the field and was into the lead on lap eight, a lead he relinquished only to switch cars on lap eighteen.

    The Swiss superman was utterly flawless in his drive to victory - second of the season, fifth of his Formula E career, the perfect way to rebound after his heartbreak in Putrajaya - but keeping him honest was Abt lead driver Lucas di Grassi, who finished a close second. Di Grassi climbed up from fourth when he jumped the Dragon Racing cars in the pit lane, then shadowed Buemi for several laps until backing it down to consolidate second place - his third straight podium to open 2015. This result leaves Buemi and di Grassi separated by a single point in the championship, and establishes the duo as this year's legitimate title contenders.

    While the Renault e.Dams and Abt Schaeffler Audi Sport teams have two of the strongest cars in Formula E, the disparity between their driver pairings was highlighed in Punta del Este as Nicolas Prost finished fifth, and Daniel Abt finished eighth, and were consistently about a second a lap slower than their teammates Buemi and Di Grassi respectively. In contrast, Dragon Racing's duo of d'Ambrosio and Duval could not seem more evenly matched - they ran nose to tail for most of the race, d'Ambrosio ultimately taking third, Duval fourth - both will be serious threats to win races over the course of the season.

    The hottest battle of the race came down to the final lap between DS Virgin Racing's Jean-Eric Vergne and defending champion Nelson Piquet Jr., and in the end, Vergne triumphed in the fight to finish seventh as Piquet's race ended in a spectacular shunt.

    punta piquet.jpg

    Nelsinho (pictured above, some time before it all went terribly wrong) wasn't alone in his misfortune, as Sam Bird's bid for consecutive podium finishes after finishing second in Putrajaya ended with a battery failure in his second stint. Piquet's NEXTEV TCR teammate Oliver Turvey was slapped with a drive-through penalty for going under the minimum pit stop time, robbing him of a chance to pick up points and leaving the Chinese squad with nothing to show for their best race of the season.

    Mahindra Racing also had a lacklustre weekend in Uruguay: Bruno Senna suffered a very rare puncture that put him several laps down before retiring, while a debuting Oliver Rowland was cautious to a fault in his first Formula E race and finished a distant thirteenth - a result not reflective of the Formula Renault 3.5 champion's ultimate capabilities. To say nothing of Jacques Villeneuve, who didn't even start the race after a crash in qualifying earlier in the day - no word if John Newhouse was prepared to start the race in his absence.

    Completing the top ten were Antonio Felix da Costa, who finished sixth and made that old Aguri SRT-01e look mighty strong in doing so. Another SRT-01e driver, Robin Frijns, capitalized on the Piquet crash to score points in his third straight Formula E race - finishing tenth, one place behind Stephane Sarrazin in the sole Venturi, one place ahead of Simona de Silvestro in the second of the Amlin Andretti cars.

    Punta podium.jpg

    Once again, the Formula E Championship is subject to a long lay-off of nearly two months before the second part of the season's South American double-header - the Buenos Aires ePrix. When the calendar changes to 2016 and the season resumes in February from Argentina, Formula E fans are in for one great title battle.

    Official Results:
    1st: Sebastien Buemi [SUI] - Renault e.Dams - 45:59.697 (FL)
    2nd: Lucas di Grassi [BRA] - Abt Schaeffler Audi Sport - +3.534s
    3rd: Jerome d'Ambrosio [BEL] - Dragon Racing - +6.725s (Pole)
    4th: Loic Duval [FRA] - Dragon Racing - +6.807s
    5th: Nicolas Prost [FRA] - Renault e.Dams - +21.057s
    6th: Antonio Felix da Costa [POR] - Team Aguri - +22.410s
    7th: Jean-Eric Vergne [FRA] - DS Virgin Racing - +57.726s
    8th: Daniel Abt [GER] - Abt Schaeffler Audi Sport - +1m00.744s
    9th: Stephane Sarrazin [FRA] - Venturi Grand Prix - +1m03.559s
    10th: Robin Frijns [NED] - Amlin Andretti - +1m03.840s
    11th: Simona de Silvestro [SUI] - Amlin Andretti - +1 Lap
    12th: Oliver Turvey [GBR] - NEXTEV TCR - +1 Lap
    13th: Oliver Rowland [GBR] - Mahindra Racing - +1 Lap
    14th: Nathanael Berthon [FRA] - Team Aguri - +1 Lap
    15th: Nelson Piquet Jr. [BRA] - NEXTEV TCR- +1 Lap

    Not Classified:

    Bruno Senna [BRA] - Mahindra Racing - 26 laps
    Sam Bird [GBR] - DS Virgin Racing - 17 laps
    Jacques Villeneuve [CAN] - Venturi Grand Prix - did not start
    Last edited by a moderator: Dec 23, 2015
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