Formula E-Brief: Buemi charges to dominant Beijing victory

Discussion in 'Motorsports' started by R.J. O'Connell, Oct 25, 2015.

  1. R.J. O'Connell

    R.J. O'Connell

    _g7c8639.jpg The 2015-16 FIA Formula E Championship season kicked off in fine fashion, and the man of the day in Beijing, China was none other than Sebastien Buemi. The Renault e.Dams driver who came within a single point of claiming the inaugural Drivers' Championship won the season-opener at the Beijing Olympic Park with a comprehensive masterclass - by far and away the most dominant effort in the young history of the championship.

    Going into the Saturday race meeting, it was clear that the FEISAR Renault e.Dams team would be among the front-runners this season, if not the outright favorites, but not many could have predicted the success that their ace driver would enjoy as Buemi took pole position, then won the race whilst setting the fastest lap and leading all but one lap to become the first driver to score a maximum thirty points in an ePrix with the series' first ever hat trick. The 11-second margin over last year's Beijing winner Lucas Di Grassi, who had just about the quietest and most productive result of any of the top finishers in his Abt Schaeffler Audi Sport entry, is also larger than any winning margin from last season.

    This was in spite of two separate Full Course Yellows that negated some of his lead, and the ever-present need to conserve energy during both stints of the race. Buemi, who can already stake a claim as the most accomplished Swiss racing driver since the days of Clay Regazzoni and Jo Siffert, continues to pile up the accolades both as a World Champion driver for Toyota in the World Endurance Championship, and now in Formula E for Renault e.Dams.

    It was the first race of the new open-development era in Formula E, which saw several newly developed powertrains make their competitive debuts in the aim of pushing the boundaries of electric-powered motorsport further forward. While concerns were raised that the move from spec motors to the open format would detract from the brilliant side-by-side racing that became a staple of Formula E over the course of the first season, this second running of the Beijing ePrix proved more entertaining and more hotly-contested over the course of a whole race than last year's event - and no drivers proved that more than Mahindra Racing's Nick Heidfeld, and the "Double Dragons" Loic Duval and Jerome D'Ambrosio of Dragon Racing.

    Heidfeld battled back from a slow pit stop in the middle stages of the race to find himself in third place, ahead of Duval, who piled on the pressure as the laps began to tick down. Soon, the former Le Mans 24h winner Duval was joined by his former race-winning teammate D'Ambrosio as they tried their best to take the final podium position away from the respected ex-F1 veteran in what was the best battle of the race - and the Dragon teammates weren't shy of challenging each other for position either. But Heidfeld, despite lacking relative pace in his Mahindra compared to his Venturi-powered rivals, used every ounce of his veteran cunning and drove a fair, excellently executed, defensive race to resist the hard-charging Frenchman behind him, and secure the final podium place at the site where his race ended so spectacularly last year. His second Formula E podium surely won't be the last, and Duval and D'Ambrosio, who finished fourth and fifth respectively, won't be denied much longer as the season progresses.


    “I couldn’t be more happy for the whole team," a delighted Heidfeld was quoted after the race. "We worked hard over the summer and it was a very tight race. The guys behind me in the end did one lap more on the first stint so they had more power and I had to defend. It was really exciting, especially on the last lap and I at least managed not to crash on the last lap this time!”

    New technologies, faster cars, new race procedures - the implementation of the Full Course Yellow/Virtual Safety Car this season was just about perfect - and new drivers highlighted all the changes from last season, and three of this year's five rookie candidates impressed with points-scoring debuts. Oliver Turvey of NEXTEV TCR, and Nathanael Berthon of Team Aguri, each battled back from the back two rows of the grid following a disappointing qualifying for their respective teams, to finish sixth and eighth respectively. Their results were aided by smart strategy and a timely second FCY, and the two drivers drove clean and competitively to capitalize on their respective chances. Turvey, who was so sensational in his London ePrix debut last July, outperformed his champion teammate in almost every session - giving the young Cumbrian a big shot of confidence going forward into Season Two. Berthon, who was overlooked as a meagre candidate at Team Aguri, showed that he has real race savvy that betrays his seemingly uninspiring record as a perennial mid-runner for some of GP2's lesser-equipped teams.

    turvey frijns.jpg

    And Robin Frijns, who's now well and truly back from the brink of motorsports purgatory in 2015, could not be omitted from the discussion after a mighty drive of his own on debut. "Rapid Robin" showed tremendous, clean racecraft throughout, executed every passing opportunity to perfection, and outperformed the likes of Jean-Eric Vergne and Stephane Sarrazin - two more experienced drivers, with their own powertrains as opposed to Frijns' Amlin Andretti that's still running the Season One SRT-01e - on merit to officially finish tenth on debut for the Andretti team. The "Blue Falcons" will rue losing Simona de Silvestro on the second lap due to an early collision, but they look poised to remain competitive despite the drawbacks of their limited powertrain.

    Not every storyline from the Beijing ePrix was a happy one, and the struggles for some drivers were headlined by reigning series champion Nelson Piquet Jr. - who finished 15th after starting last in the field. He'd moved up to ninth before suffering a loss of power, which cost Nelsinho two laps and any hope in [Hades] of scoring points in his first race as the defending champ. As Renault e.Dams and Buemi dominated the race, another French automotive giant endured a much tougher debut. DS Virgin Racing, with the might of Citroën and their extensive pedigrees of championship success in WRC and WTCC, saw Sam Bird tally only a seventh-place finish and Jean-Eric Vergne finish well out of the points in twelfth as both drivers struggled with abnormally high energy consumption - which could be DS Virgin's undoing this season unless the team finds a fix in the next few rounds.


    Spare a thought also for Renault e.Dams' Nicolas Prost, who once again leaves Beijing with nothing to show for a solid weekend. He qualified second to complete the first-ever front-row lockout in Formula E history, and looked to have a podium secured thanks to a good strategy. But then a rear wing failure (seen above) in the closing laps prompted a mechanical black flag and a retirement for the Frenchman - after angry protests from Prost, who appeared to remain competitive, keeping Di Grassi within a carlength's reach despite the very visible and dangerous damage to his car. Antonio Felix da Costa was involved in two collisions that each triggered an FCY - he hit De Silvestro on lap two, and took himself out in a second awkward collision with former F1 champion Jacques Villeneuve at the halfway point, as the Portuguese turned in an uncharacteristically manic performance in his first run at Beijing. To say nothing of Trulli Grand Prix, who didn't even participate in the race as their powertrains were held in customs on the trek to China - and would not have been projected to have been remotely competitive even if they had been racing.

    We might also want to spare a thought for this cat who found their way on track and narrowly avoided an outcome even worse than the lopsided "Iannone vs Seagull" from the MotoGP race at Philip Island a week ago, as the field fought for position around him.

    The second round of the Formula E championship is contested once again in the Malaysian city of Putrajaya, where Sam Bird is the defending winner - but the focus is now on Sebastien Buemi and Renault e.Dams, the clear championship favorites even after a single race meeting, and what their closest rivals from Abt, DS Virgin, and Dragon Racing can do to strike back.


    1st - Sebastien Buemi [SUI] - Renault e.Dams - 50:08.835 (POLE + FL)

    2nd - Lucas di Grassi [BRA] - Abt Schaeffler Audi Sport - +11.006
    3rd - Nick Heidfeld [GER] - Mahindra Racing - +15.681
    4th - Loic Duval [FRA] - Dragon Racing - +16.009
    5th - Jerome d'Ambrosio [BEL] - Dragon Racing - +16.514
    6th - Oliver Turvey [GBR] - NEXTEV TCR - +39.466
    7th - Sam Bird [GBR] - DS Virgin Racing - +47.531
    8th - Nathanael Berthon [FRA] - Team Aguri - +58.620
    9th - Stephane Sarrazin [FRA] - Venturi Grand Prix - +1:07.814
    10th - Robin Frijns [NED] - Amlin Andretti - +1:09.260
    11th - Daniel Abt [GER] - Abt Schaeffler Audi Sport - +1:13.351
    12th - Jean-Eric Vergne [FRA] - DS Virgin Racing - +1:31.040
    13th - Bruno Senna [BRA] - Mahindra Racing - +1:50.833
    14th - Jacques Villeneuve [CAN] - Venturi Grand Prix - +1L
    15th - Nelson Piquet Jr. [BRA] - NEXTEV TCR - +2L
    Nicolas Prost [FRA] - Renault e.Dams
    Antonio Felix da Costa [POR] - Team Aguri
    Simona de Silvestro [SUI] - Amlin Andretti
    Last edited: Oct 25, 2015
    • Like Like x 3
  2. Joel


    Pun totally not intended in the title
    • Haha Haha x 1
  3. Andy 'Mars Bar' Graham

    Andy 'Mars Bar' Graham

    I don't think it was a strategic masterclass for Turvey and Berthon. I think they got very lucky. They weren't fast and they were lucky the FCY came out whole they were in the pits.

    DS Virgin weren't great at saving energy, though Bird did a good job in the last stint. Renault e-DAMS are a long way ahead at the moment. NEXTEV were appalling all of yesterday. Villeneuve didn't do much. Dragon were very good. Daniel Abt needs to go. Felix Da Costa was very quick
    • Agree Agree x 1
  4. Jimlaad43

    Nice apex, I'll take it! Premium

    Abt's driving because it's his father's team.
  5. airutonpurosuto8912


    Duval :thumbsup:
  6. David Jundt

    David Jundt

    A note on Buemi&Siffert:

    Buemi won yesterday, on the 24th of October. Siffert died on this day in 1971... a bit creepy.
  7. kedy89


    most overrated German driver in recent years.
  8. ThatRacingGuy

    I drove 88 MPH last night... weird stuff happened

    Ok FE has some great racing but it's still the worst form of motorsport in the world in my opinion
  9. Bertil


    What is motorsport but than the quality of the racing? Sure it lacks the sound, but you can't really get away from that.
    Last edited: Oct 26, 2015
  1. This site uses cookies to help personalise content, tailor your experience and to keep you logged in if you register.
    By continuing to use this site, you are consenting to our use of cookies.