Formula E makes triumphant return as Buemi blitzes the Beijing ePrix

Sebastien Buemi will be one smiley Swiss after a dominant lights-to-flag victory at the Beijing ePrix.

FIA Formula E Championship 2015/16. Beijing ePrix, Beijing, China. Sebastien Buemi (SUI), Renault e.Dams Z.E.15, celebrates his win Race Beijing, China, Asia. Saturday 24 October 2015 Photo: Sam Bloxham / LAT / FE ref: Digital Image _SBL7845
FIA Formula E Championship 2015/16. Beijing ePrix, Beijing, China. Sebastien Buemi (SUI), Renault e.Dams Z.E.15, celebrates his win Race Beijing, China, Asia. Photo: Sam Bloxham / LAT / FE

Having qualified in pole position, Buemi made a clean getaway at lights out and disappeared off into the distance to finish 11 seconds ahead of Lucas di Grassi in second place.

Nick Heidfeld finished in third place, but he had to work for it: having had a great first stint and running in 2nd, he lost out to Di Grassi and Prost in the pit stop and found himself down in fourth. He then proceeded to take 3rd from Prost within the first few corners, only to have it stolen away again at the end of the second Full Course Yellow period. Prost then retired with a broken rear wing, handing the position back to Heidfeld.

But it wasn’t over yet: Loic Duval and Jerome D’Ambrosio were soon on his tail, helped by a well-timed Full Course Yellow coinciding with their pit stops which slowed down the field and allowed them to gain ground. Heidfeld hung on to 3rd position by the skin of his teeth (also the official measurement by which D’Ambrosio missed his teammate at turn 16) and finished the race with 0.008% usable energy left in the ‘tank’.

Speaking to Dario Franchitti, Sebastien Buemi said, “It was a good race. It’s a bit of a weird feeling because I felt I was a little bit on my own. It’s good to win with a bit of margin. I was expecting to be doing one lap less than the other guys but then they told me they were on the same strategy, so I said, ‘ok, it doesn’t look too bad’. The team has done a great job, Renault has done a good powertrain so just looking forward to the next races right now.”

FIA Formula E Championship 2015/16. Beijing ePrix, Beijing, China. Sebastien Buemi (SUI), Renault e.Dams Z.E.15, celebrates his win Race Beijing, China, Asia. Saturday 24 October 2015 Photo: Sam Bloxham / LAT / FE ref: Digital Image _G7C8639FIA Formula E Championship 2015/16. Beijing ePrix, Beijing, China. Sebastien Buemi (SUI), Renault e.Dams Z.E.15, celebrates his win Race Photo: Sam Bloxham / LAT / FE

Lucas di Grassi said, “The best we could expect from today’s race if everything was normal was P3 because both cars were very, very quick, but we managed to snatch that P2 and it’s the start of the championship, we have a lot to work, we have a lot of things to do but it’s also good for the mechanics, for the whole team, for our sponsors, that we start with a podium. The base is done but now we have to go back home – first we have to celebrate, then we have to go back home – think about it, where we can improve so we can beat those guys in the next race.”

FIA Formula E Championship 2015/16. Beijing ePrix, Beijing, China. Race Beijing, China, Asia. Saturday 24 October 2015 Photo: Sam Bloxham / LAT / FE ref: Digital Image _G7C8625
FIA Formula E Championship 2015/16. Beijing ePrix, Beijing, China. Race Beijing, China, Asia.Photo: Sam Bloxham / LAT / FE

Nick Heidfeld was also very upbeat, “It was a surprise [to finish 3rd] because after testing we thought that the guys that finished ahead of us are quicker but we managed to keep a lot of cars behind us and couldn’t be more happy for the whole team. We worked hard over the summer and it was a very tight race. The guys behind me in the end did one lap more on the first stint so had more power. I had to defend, it was really exciting, especially on the last lap and at least managed not to crash on the last lap this time.”

FIA Formula E Championship 2015/16. Beijing ePrix, Beijing, China. Race Beijing, China, Asia. Saturday 24 October 2015 Photo: Sam Bloxham / LAT / FE ref: Digital Image _G7C8605
FIA Formula E Championship 2015/16. Beijing ePrix, Beijing, China. Race Beijing, China, Asia. Photo: Sam Bloxham / LAT / FE

Simona de Silvestro was the first casualty of the year after going off at Turn 3. Her teammate Robin Frijins had a spectacular race, and looked on course to finish in the final point-scoring position before mysteriously losing out to Stephane Sarrazin. However Daniel Abt’s post-race penalty for an unsafe release promoted the Dutchman back into the points.

Antonio Felix da Costa had an unfortunate run-in with Jacques Villeneuve, resulting in his retirement and Villeneuve finishing second-to-last in front of Nelson Piquet Jr.

Piquet, reigning champion, stopped out on track and appeared to have retired before getting away again, was downbeat having being lapped twice and finishing last.

‘This weekend has been difficult. Coming from winning a championship to a whole new season with a new car that we have had some problems with this weekend has of course been really frustrating. But part of being a driver is sticking together, working with the team and getting out of the hole together. It’s not just about being quick, but about building up a team and being on their side. It’s only the first race so I don’t think it will be like this all season, but we need to work hard to improve things.” Nelson Piquet Jr.

His teammate Oliver Turvey had a respectable race, finishing a surprising 6th having qualified 15th.

“To get sixth here is a great result for me personally but also as after qualifying we were a bit disappointed with the pace of the car so the result was probably the best we could have achieved today. Thanks to the team for everything, it’s great to get some points on the board,” Turvey said after the race.

DS Virgin Racing was looking supreme in the first stint, before having to go into energy-saving mode at the end of the stint and dropping well down the order. Sam Bird and Jean-Eric Vergne finished 7th and 12th respectively. It’s fair to say that the ideal strategy for Formula E may be to have a quiet first stint and save energy to go deeper into the race, giving the driver more energy and fewer laps to fight tooth and nail in the second stint.

Things that had us buzzing with excitement

    • Race control counting down to green flag/full course yellow on the radio. More, please.
    • The split screen camera angles – really innovative and enthralling and a great solution by Formula E to bring us more of the action.
    • The different ‘squeals’ of the engines
    • Full Course Yellow rather than Safety Cars. It enables the action to get back underway quickly after an incident has been cleared, and means we’re not subjected to waiting for the Safety Car to pick up the leader, and then make its way back to the pits. (We still love the Safety Car, though!)

Results

  1. Sebastien Buemi, Renault e.Dams
  2. Lucas di Grassi, ABT
  3. Nick Heidfeld, Mahindra
  4. Loic Duval, Dragon
  5. Jerome D’Ambrioso, Dragon
  6. Oliver Turvey, NEXTEV
  7. Sam Bird, DS Virgin
  8. Nathanael Berthon, Aguri
  9. Stephane Sarrazin, Venturi
  10. Robin Frijns, Andretti
  11. Daniel Abt, ABT
  12. Jean-Eric Vergne, DS Virgin
  13. Bruno Senna, Mahindra
  14. Jacques Villeneuve, Venturi
  15. Nelson Piquet Jr., NEXTEV

DNF: Nico Prost (Renault e.Dams); Antonio Felix da Costa (Aguri); Simona de Silvestro (Andretti)

DNS: Vitantonio Luizzi (Trulli); Salvador Duran (Trulli)

Formula E returns 7th November for the Putrajaya ePrix.

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