Sebastien Buemi took his third Formula E victory of the season to ensure a three-way fight for the title in the final round of the inaugural season tomorrow afternoon.
With fellow title contenders Lucas Di Grassi and Nelson Piquet finishing in fourth and fifth positions respectively, just 13 points covers the trio ahead of the decider tomorrow – with Piquet on 138pts, Buemi on 133pts and Di Grassi on 125pts.
Buemi’s victory and a seventh place for teammate Nicolas Prost ensured that Team eDAMS Renault sealed the very first FIA Formula E Constructors’ title.
The race began with a rolling single-file start in to the first corner, which remained under a yellow flag for the first lap. Buemi immediately built a slight lead while behind the e-DAMS driver all eyes were on title protagonists di Grassi and Piquet, who fought wheel to wheel for third position.
On the third lap Piquet took a run at di Grassi in the run into Turn 14 and the two made brief contact as the Audi Abt driver defended the inside line. Piquet ran wide and lost fourth to Jean-Eric Vergne’s Andretti Spark-Renault, which then began a succession of fastest laps by the F1 refugee as he soon homed in on di Grassi.
Vergne made his move at the T14/15 chicane with an audacious move which saw him lock his brakes and slither through the inside, as di Grassi was forced to take avoiding action. It was easily the move of the race.
With di Grassi’s hand forced by Vergne, the rapid Frenchman went after Jerome d’Ambrosio’s Dragon Racing car for second position.
D’Ambrosio, Vergne and di Grassi all pitted on the same lap, one before leader Buemi and the rest of the majority of the field.
After the car-swap pitstops, the top six remained unchanged but Buemi retained a two-second advantage. This was soon wiped away after Daniel Abt’s accident at the final corner while fighting for position with Oliver Turvey’s NEXTEV TCR and Salvador Duran’s Amlin Aguri.
With the other Aguri car of Sakon Yamamtoto also stranded in the pit entry, the solar-powered safety car was deployed after 17 laps.
At the restart with nine laps to go, Buemi eeked out another small advantage and managed the gap to the chequered flag, taking the win by just under a second.
With d’Ambrosio and Vergne comfortable in second and third places, the main focus of attention again fell on di Grassi and Piquet, with the latter all over the back of his fellow Brazilian rival.
Going in to the last seven laps, Piquet used his fan boost to get a run on di Grassi again but was ultimately unable to get by and eventually fell back after a lurid moment at the modified first turn.
Di Grassi, clear of Piquet, soon latched on to Vergne’s tail, setting fastest lap of 1m28.229 on lap 25. There was nowhere through though for the Audi Abt driver, and he had to settle for a mere three-point indent in to Piquet’s lead, while Vergne celebrated a hard fought third, his second podium since he joined the series at Punta Del Este in December.
Piquet faded in fifth place and was caught by a charging Sam Bird who took sixth place, just 0.3s behind the championship leader.
Nicolas Prost just held off countryman Loic Duval for seventh place, while Oliver Turvey placed ninth but would have been higher had he not had a slow pitstop. Stephane Sarrazin completed the top ten in his Venturi-entered car.
Bruno Senna had looked set for a hard-earned seventh but received a penalty for speeding in the pitlane and eventually finished 17th.
The final round takes place tomorrow afternoon. Track amendments at turn one are set to take place this evening ahead of the title decider.
|1||Sebastien Buemi||e.dams Renault||47m54.784|
|2||Jerome d'Ambrosio||Dragon Racing||47m55.723||0.939|
|3||Jean-Eric Vergne||Andretti Autosport||47m56.451||1.667|
|4||Lucas di Grassi||Audi Sport ABT||47m57.193||2.409|
|5||Nelson Piquet Jr||China Racing||48m02.154||7.370|
|6||Sam Bird||Virgin Racing||48m02.546||7.762|
|7||Nicolas Prost||e.dams Renault||48m03.337||8.553|
|8||Loic Duval||Dragon Racing||48m04.291||9.507|
|9||Oliver Turvey||China Racing||48m04.816||10.032|
|11||Simona de Silvestro||Andretti Autosport||48m10.730||15.946|
|12||Karun Chandhok||Mahindra Racing||48m30.379||35.595|
|14||Fabio Leimer||Virgin Racing||48m37.481||42.697|
|16||Bruno Senna||Mahindra Racing||48m43.207||48.423|
|17||Salvador Duran||Amlin Aguri||48m56.771||1m01.987|