In Montreal a fortnight ago, the two indisputable monoliths of Formula E, the FIA’s all-electric single seater series, went head to head for the Season Three championship crown. If you ask me, the wrong driver won.
Sebastien Buemi had secured six race victories and two pole positions along with the fastest lap in Mexico City en route to the season finale, whilst eventual title winner Lucas di Grassi secured just two victories and three poles in response.
Indeed, had Buemi not been forced into a high-profile absence at the penultimate round in New York due to a pre-existing contract to race at the Nurburgring for Toyota in the World Endurance Championship, or been disqualified from the opening race in Montreal for having an underweight second Renault e.dams car, there is a very strong possibility that di Grassi would be left contemplating another championship defeat, and not his maiden crown.
What, I hear you ask, does this have to do with Buemi meriting a second shot at a Formula 1 career?
At the end of the 2011 F1 season, Buemi was released after a fairly uninspiring three years at Scuderia Toro Rosso, Red Bull’s junior team.
After scoring just 29 points from 55 race starts, the Swiss was forced to move in endurance racing with Toyota’s LMP1 programme, before a simultaneous move into the then-new Formula E series with Renault-backed team e.dams in 2014.
Since then, Buemi has been meteoric in the electric category – and Wessex Scene understands he was nearly thrown a second opportunity in Formula 1 off the back of this success. With every possible chance this opportunity could come around again to the 28-year old in the near future, here’s the reasoning behind it being a terrible move.
In Formula E, Buemi has found a niche, a technologically-relevant and demanding category in which his talent is complimented by his logic and application. To be fast, you first need to be smart. And neither can be coached to the same extent as natural talent.
With manufacturers like Mercedes and Porsche dropping their respectively successful DTM and WEC programmes to join Formula E in the short-term, the relevance and profile of the championship, motivated by the switch from petrol to electric vehicles, is only set to rise. For Buemi, being a front-runner in this series could be the most exposure his career is set to gain.
Factor in his position as the fastest driver, in the quickest car, with the backing of car giant Renault, and quickly a move back to Formula 1, in which cars and demands have changed, the development race is stacked against all but the top three teams and Buemi will need to re-adapt physically and mentally, and suddenly the entire exercise becomes a waste of time – time that could be better spent cementing his legacy in Formula E.
This writer was thoroughly disappointed on Buemi’s behalf to see the Season Three championship title slip away – but would be even more unconvinced if the Swiss were to throw away his prime position for the sake of a gamble on a dream of competing at the very pinnacle of motorsport that has long-since slipped away.