London ePrix: Piquet takes title, Bird wins as Sarrazin is penalised

Sam Bird won a thrilling London ePrix after on-the-road winner Stephane Sarrazin was penalised for using too much battery energy, while Nelson Piquet Jr was crowned champion after a pulsating race in Battersea Park.

London ePrix: Piquet takes title, Bird wins as Sarrazin is penalised
Nelson Piquet Jr., China Racing
Sam Bird, Virgin Racing
Nelson Piquet Jr., China Racing
Loic Duval, Dragon Racing
Sam Bird and Fabio Leimer, Virgin Racing
Sam Bird, Virgin Racing
Jean-Eric Vergne, Andretti Autosport
Sébastien Buemi, e.dams-Renault
Nicolas Prost, e.dams-Renault
Podium: race winner Nelson Piquet Jr.
Sébastien Buemi, e.dams-Renault
Nelson Piquet Jr., China Racing

The six points Piquet secured for seventh place over title rival Sebastien Buemi’s 10 for fifth position meant he took the title by a mere point.

An epic climax to the race, after a late safety car to retrieve Fabio Leimer’s crashed Virgin car, ensured that Piquet was able to take advantage.

He went from 10th to ninth when NEXTEV TCR teammate Oliver Turvey let him through. Piquet then made a conclusive move on Salvador Duran at the T15/T16 complex to effectively seal the title by the narrowest of margins.

The title also effectively swung on whether or not Buemi, in sixth place on the final lap, could get ahead of Bruno Senna ahead of him. If he could, then the title would be his.

A valiant effort on the final lap almost saw him push through, but Senna stayed ahead. Buemi had been running in front of him, but half-spun on his out-lap after the car swap.

The remarkable scenes meant that both the championship and the race were still unclear as the cars crossed the finish line, as Stephane Sarrazin – winner on the road – was penalised for over-use of energy. This handed the race victory to Sam Bird, who also claimed fastest lap on 1m26.790s.

The penalty did not affect the championship outcome, however, and Piquet celebrated wildly with his NEXTEV TCR team, once he had been convinced he had taken the inaugural title by one point.

“I don’t know what to say, Jesus, it was such a tough week,” said Piquet. “Starting from where we did and then getting to this position, wow.

“It was very hectic and I pushed as hard as I could. I didn’t even know we had won it and then I saw my team celebrating. We had a perfect strategy and the Safety Car helped us out a little.”

Bird tried to make several moves on Sarrazin in the final two laps, and there were several contacts between them, but Sarrazin appeared to have held on. The Frenchman had gone over his allowed energy usage, finishing the race with 0% left on his gauge which is against the rules.

“I pushed him hard and he ran out of energy and I am so happy with the strategy we had,” said Bird.    “Thanks to all the British fans, they have been great. It was a great battle and I am so pleased for the win and the Virgin Racing team.”

Completing the podium was Jerome d’Ambrosio who repeated his runner-up position from yesterday. He headed home Loic Duval, who fought tenaciously with D’Ambrosio and Bird in a frantic fight for what was second on the road in the final 10 laps.

Lucas di Grassi, who had an outside chance of taking the title today, finished in sixth place and ended third in the final points standings.

Pos Driver  Team  Time  Gap
Sam Bird Virgin Racing 45m48.792  
Jerome d'Ambrosio Dragon Racing 45m55.765 6.973
Loic Duval Dragon Racing 45m58.222 9.430
Bruno Senna Mahindra Racing 45m58.939 10.147
Sebastien Buemi e.dams Renault 45m59.481 10.689
Lucas di Grassi Audi Sport ABT 45m59.996 11.204
Nelson Piquet Jr China Racing 46m00.353 11.561
Salvador Duran Amlin Aguri 46m01.194 12.402
Oliver Turvey China Racing 46m02.934 14.142
10  Nicolas Prost e.dams Renault 46m03.327 14.535
11  Daniel Abt Audi Sport ABT 46m11.962 23.170
12  Simona de Silvestro Andretti Autosport 46m13.402 24.610
13  Karun Chandhok Mahindra Racing 46m20.293 31.501
14  Alex Fontana Trulli 46m27.215 38.423
15  Stephane Sarrazin VENTURI 46m37.472 48.680
16  Jean-Eric Vergne Andretti Autosport 44m45.507
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London ePrix: Sarrazin claims pole for title decider

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