It was all equal between the two going in to the final race of the season. Buemi was on pole, Di Grassi in third, and Nico Prost between them.
And then they went off at turn three…
Both apportioned blame to the other driver after visiting the stewards. Throughout the course of the season they had the upmost respect for one another, but in the heat of the moment red mist descended. This is what they had to say.
Sebastien Buemi, Renault e.dams (1st)
“I’m actually sad. First of all to win it that way, and second of all to see what Lucas did. I was respectful of his driving because he’s been amazing. He’s said many times that his car is very bad and he’s such a good driver and if he was in my car I think he would be at least half a second quicker. He’s a great driver. In Le Mans he never touched a car.
‘[Today] he went between Nico and the wall and I tell you, it was maybe five centimetres gap. Once he braked, and I just saw it on camera, he had two options: either go to the right, or nail the back of my car. And he nailed it perfectly. A little bit too strong, because we both went out. It’s sad to see this, but I think this was his only opportunity. We had the quickest car and if we had come out of this corner in front of him we would have been far quicker.”
“Initially I thought maybe I could race like that for a while, but it was totally impossible. But then I thought, ‘There’s the fastest lap!’ and I thought he was completely out but he still managed to go back to the box. Normally we are quicker, it was going to be fine. And then the most incredible thing happened. He went out, he did the fastest lap and then he was waiting for me each time I tried to do the fastest lap to block me.”
“I used sixty percent of my battery before I was able to do my lap. I could not believe it to be honest. I was starting to be so emotional because I saw the battery going down and I couldn’t do a lap. I had massive respect for him but today it went down.”
Lucas Di Grassi, ABT Audi Schaeffler (2nd)
“To be completely honest, I think for everyone that watched the races the whole season and understands little bit of motorsport can see that Renault clearly had the best car the whole season. Even though they had the fastest car the whole season, for us to achieve a start with equal points to such a great driver as Seb is, I can be proud of my Championship and all the team work behind me.”
“Yes, we lost it. In my opinion if I had to lose to someone it has to be Seb, because he’s a fantastic driver, he proved himself in many categories so he deserved it. For us we can only be proud, keep our heads up and start working tomorrow morning on season there and try the title another year. I’m sure we’re going to be in title fights in season three, four and so on. Our team will come back strong.”
“My preference is the points should only count for the race. I don’t think fastest lap or pole count. In any case, you have to play by the rules you have, with FanBoost, pole position and fastest lap points. I pushed very hard, I squeezed every onehundredth out of my car. The 1.24.6 was a lap where I was less than inch from every single wall on the track but I couldn’t do better, so I go home with the feeling, especially this weekend, that I did the job.”
“Don’t forget yesterday was a wet qualifying. I outqualified Seb by more than a second. I held him up the whole race. With his extra three points we started the race today with equal points and i did best I could to fight until the very end, so I can go home proud.”
“I haven’t seen the footage but I’ve seen data, I was in stewards room and we were looking at the data. It’s very clear: I had a very good start and I knew that I had to be aggressive again Prost because I knew that I had to overtake Prost at the very beginning to have any chance to fight Seb for the next 33 laps. It’s very easy to block here, I knew that if I was behind Prost it would be a struggle because he was extremely fast and at the same time, I would have no chance to fight Buemi.
“I was very aggressive with him, touching a little bit. Seb braked almost 50 metres too early compared to me and Nico and when I realised, I locked up my wheels and had the incident. Seb braked early, I was very aggressive, that was not how the first corner should have been. We should have fought for the next thirty three laps. But with these conditions, cold tyres, cold brakes I had to be aggressive. That was what happened and I’ve nothing else to say.”