Sebastien Buemi took full advantage of a nightmare weekend for title rival Lucas Di Grassi to claim a popular home victory for Renault e.dams in Paris and extend his Formula E championship lead to 43 points.
Parisian Jean-Eric Vergne had looked the most likely to challenge Buemi’s supremacy, but a heavy crash after understeering into the wall at Turn 13 curtailed his charge.
That allowed Jose Maria Lopez, the reigning World Touring Car Champion, to take the first podium of his Formula E career in second, with Mahindra’s Nick Heidfeld finishing third for the second race in succession.
Whilst one championship contender celebrated another controlled performance, the other ended his race in the wall after two collisions, a penalty for exiting the pits outside the minimum permitted time and a poor qualifying performance that set the tone for an error-strewn weekend.
The more superstitious would say Di Grassi’s 13th place starting slot was to blame for what came next. A poor start to the race saw Di Grassi slip behind former Red Bull junior Antonio Felix da Costa, before the two collided at Turn 8, leaving the latter on the sidelines and the former bound for the pit lane.
A frustrated Di Grassi headed into the corner on the outside line, with da Costa on his inside in an increasingly small gap. As both cars went into the apex, da Costa found himself on a collision course and hit the inside wall before pitching Di Grassi into a spin and coming to rest nose-first in the opposite barrier.
The resulting Full-Course Yellow gave several drivers the incentive to pit for their second cars, including Di Grassi. He entered the pits at the rear of the train and exited in front, by virtue of his pit stop time being ten seconds under the minimum allowed. He was subsequently penalized with a drive-through penalty before locking up and crashing at Turn 1 in the dying stages of the contest.
The interruption had allowed Faraday Future Dragon Racing to gamble on Mike Conway’s strategy, with the Briton staying out on circuit to assume the lead. However, the tactic hinged on another incident to similarly slow the field’s progress and allow him a window to pit to change cars, and his chances of taking a strong result evaporated nearly as fast as they had materialized.
Heidfeld’s Mahindra team-mate Felix Rozenqvist took another good finish in fourth, with Buemi’s e.dams team-mate Nico Prost in fifth. Frijns, Piquet Jr, series debutante Dillman, Evans and Sarrazin completed the top ten.
With Buemi’s World Endurance Championship commitments set to rule him out of action later in the season, Di Grassi’s poor weekend may not prove fatal to his title aspirations, but the result has certainly handed the Swiss driver the upper hand.
The championship reconvenes in Berlin, Germany, on the weekend of June 10-11 for the first of three double-headers to close out Season Three.
2017 FIA FORMULA E PARIS ePRIX – RESULT (49 LAPS):
|1||Sebastien BUEMI||Renault e.dams|
|2||Jose Maria LOPEZ||DS Virgin Racing||+0.707s|
|3||Nick HEIDFELD||Mahindra Racing||+2.043s|
|4||Felix ROSENQVIST||Mahindra Racing||+2.621s|
|5||Nicolas PROST||Renault e.dams||+3.521s|
|6||Robin FRJINS||Andretti Formula E||+7.999s|
|7||Nelson PIQUET JR||NEXTEV NIO||+32.420s|
|8||Tom DILLMAN||Venturi Formula E||+32.929s|
|9||Mitch EVANS||Panasonic Jaguar Racing||+33.369s|
|10||Stephane SARRAZIN||Venturi Formula E||+34.051s|
|11||Oliver TURVEY||NEXTEV NIO||+35.082s|
|13||Daniel ABT||ABT Schaeffler Audi Sport||+1 lap|
|14||Mike CONWAY||Faraday Future Dragon Racing||+1 lap|
|15||Adam CARROLL||Panasonic Jaguar Racing||+1 lap|
|16||Sam BIRD||DS Virgin Racing||+2 laps|
|DNF||Jean-Eric VERGNE||TECHEETAH||Accident damage|
|DNF||Lucas DI GRASSI||ABT Schaeffler Audi Sport||Accident damage|
|DNF||Jerome D’AMBROSIO||Faraday Future Dragon Racing||Mechnical|
|DNF||Antonio FELIX DA COSTA||Andretti Formula E||Accident damage|