The Formuls E Championship title fight remained alive after Sebastien Buemi took a lights to flag victory in race one in New York to take his first win of the season for Nissan ahead of Mitch Evans and Antonio Felix Da Costa.
“It’s an amazing feeling. It’s been a hard season”, said Buemi after the race.
The Swiss driver made a good start from pole, but as expected, Alex Lynn made a better start from the right hand side of the grid, slotting his Jaguar into second ahead of Pascal Wehrlein.
Jean-Eric Vergne looked comfortable in tenth in tenth with teammate Andre Lotterer playing rear gunner – that was until both Techeetah’s found themselves innocent bystanders in an altercation with Jose Maria Lopez and Sam Bird which saw the Virgin driver receive a ten-second penalty for spinning Lopez..
Taking evasive action, Lotterer was unable to avoid collecting the rear of his teammate, but a puncture from the championship leader forced Vergne into the pits for a replacement tyre. Bodywork damage on Lotterer’s car would put Techeetah on the back foot in the Teams Championship.
Needing to score four points on Vergne to keep the Drivers Championship alive , Lucas Di Grassi wasn’t exactly making hay back in twelfth; forced to analyse his options as everyone around him jumped into attack mode early. – a potential by product of high battery temperatures expected later in the race.
A clean move on the Virgin of Robin Frijns at the hairpin put Di Grassi into the top ten and into the points. Frijns would shortly retire after damage sustained from contact earlier in the race.
Meanwhile, a queue was forming behind Buemi at the front. Lynn may have been within striking distance of the lead, but in turn was under massive pressure from the BMW of Alex Sims. Disaster would strike Lynn however, with the Jaguar driver slowing out of turn 9 – a motor control unit failure ending the Brit’s race.
With the safety deployed, Di Grassi was able to close on the front-runners and potentially benefit from Bird’s time penalty to score an extra point. Vergne meanwhile would have his work cut out for him in seventeenth. While Frenchman did have energy on his side, he would habe to pick his moments carefully.
At the restart Sims was all over Buemi, with Daniel Abt looking punchy in third until a mistake from the German saw him drop to seventh and prmote Mitch Evans into podium contention.
With ten minutes remaining, Evans made a late move on Sims to seize second, but a scuffle between Bird, Abt and Gunther allowed Di Grassi into seventh. Behind, a meeting of the wall and Eoardo Mortara allowed Vergne to move up to eleventh.
With more energy at his disposal, Buemi was picking up the pace to force the race to go one lap longer and ensure a win. The additional lap however may have had a considerable flow-on effect to the rest of the field. Evans in particular looked to be struggling in the heat and losing seven-tenths a lap.
Vergne was now in tenth, with an additional provisional point for fastest lap in his pocket, but disaster would strike the Frenchman on the final lap at turn two when Felipe Massa chopped Vergne in an aggressive defence that resulted in a collision for both drivers.
This dropped Vergne down to fifteenth and out of the points, which mathematically brought both Evans and Buemi into championship contention, while Audi were able to half the gap to Techeetah in the Teams Championship.
Image: Nissan e.Dams
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