Beijing ePrix: Buemi dominates season opener

Renault eDAMS driver Sebastien Buemi eased to victory in the Formula E season two opener in Beijing.

Buemi led all but a lap of the race, displaying the significant advantage the Renault car carries over the rest of the field at present.

The Swiss driver had to manage two Full Course Yellow periods, but was never seriously threatened after leading into the first corner.

Such was his advantage that he set the fastest lap of the race on the final tour, becoming the only driver to break the 1m40s barrier on a 1m39.993s.

Second place went to Audi ABT driver Lucas di Grassi. The Brazilian, who won the Beijing race last year, fought back from a disappointing qualifying session to get his season two campaign off to a solid start.

A fierce battle for the final step on the podium went the way of Mahindra's Nick Heidfeld. The German, who ended last year’s race upside down, drove an excellent race, battling with Nicolas Prost for much of the encounter.

The fight came to a head when Prost was forced to retire after his rear wing appeared to collapse in the closing stages.

Dragon Racing secured a good points haul with fourth and fifth positions as Loic Duval, who had an entertaining race battling with several adversaries, headed home teammate Jerome d'Ambrosio.

Oliver Turvey drove a typically canny race in his NEXTEV entry and capitalised on staying out a lap later than most of the field to take a fine seventh.

Turvey headed fellow British racer Sam Bird, who lost time after a trip down the Turn 2 escape road while battling for position.

Scoring points on his debut was Team Aguri driver Nathanael Berthon, who, like Turvey, stayed out longer and was able to take advantage of the second Full Course Yellow to come home eighth.

Daniel Abt in the second Audi ABT and Stephane Sarrazin in the Venturi rounded out the top 10.

Story of the race

Poleman Buemi made a clean getaway to lead the field in to the tight first right hander as his teammate Prost locked-up, handing Heidfeld the opportunity to get through in second position.

Buemi initially struggled to open a gap to Heidfeld’s Mahindra and by lap three it was just a little over a second.

Prost then had another big moment under braking on lap two and relinquished third place to di Grassi.

On lap three, Andretti’s Simona de Silvestro ended her race in the barriers, the shunt necessitating the first ever Full Course Yellow for the series.

When the race went back green on lap five, Buemi wasted no time in extending his advantage and simply drove away from Heidfeld, who was soon caught by di Grassi and Prost.

By the time of the mandatory car swap pit stop, Buemi enjoyed a 14.9-second cushion over the field as the top four all pitted on lap 13.

While Buemi could afford a relatively leisurely stop, a rush for the pit exit behind resulted in di Grassi being promoted to a net second place.

Prost just managed to get out ahead of Heidfeld in to what would become third place, but then locked up at Turn 2 and was forced to relinquish the position on the run down to Turn 3.

Duval stayed out a lap longer than the frontrunners and temporarily led the race. He completed his stop and emerged fifth, just as the second Full Course Yellow of the race was called on lap 14 after an incident between Jacques Villeneuve and Antonio Felix da Costa.

The big winners after the pit stops were d'Ambrosio, Turvey and Berthon, who pitted late under the FCY and now ran within the top 10.

Defending champion Nelson Piquet Jr was also set to benefit rising to ninth, but his car came to a halt shortly after the restart.

While Buemi continued to manage a healthy gap at the front, Prost caught di Grassi but soon endured  the unusual problem of a collapsed rear wing.

Remarkably, the issue barely dented Prost’s pace and he was able to pressure the Brazilian, yet he was soon shown the black-and-orange mechanical issue flag and, audibly agitated, came in to retire the car.

The major battle in the final laps was between Heidfeld and Duval for third position. Duval caught Heidfeld in the closing stages, while his Dragon teammate d'Ambrosio caught the duo and looked for a way through, even attempting to pass Duval.

The two almost touched, but were able to cross the line a close fourth and fifth.

Race results:

Pos. Driver Team Time/Gap
1  Sebastien Buemi Renault e.Dams 26 laps
2  Lucas di Grassi ABT Schaeffler Audi Sport 11.0
3  Nick Heidfeld Mahindra 15.7
4  Loic Duval Dragon 16.0
5 Jerome d'Ambrosio Dragon 16.5
6 Oliver Turvey NEXTEV TCR 39.5
7 Sam Bird DS Virgin 47.5
8  Nathanael Berthon Team Aguri 58.6
9 Daniel Abt ABT Schaeffler Audi Sport 1'03.4
10 Stephane Sarrazin Venturi 1'07.8
11 Robin Frijns Andretti 1'09.2
12 Jean-Eric Vergne DS Virgin 1'31.0
13 Bruno Senna Mahindra 1'50.8
14 Jacques Villeneuve Venturi 1 Lap
15 Nelson Piquet NEXTEV TCR 2 Laps
Ret Nicolas Prost Renault e.Dams  
Ret Antonio Felix da Costa Team Aguri  
Ret Simona de Silvestro Andretti  
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About this article
Series Formula E
Event Beijing ePrix
Track Streets of Beijing
Drivers Sébastien Buemi
Teams DAMS
Article type Race report