Sébastien Buemi secured his third win in three races with victory at the Buenos Aires ePrix. Starting from third on the grid, the Renault e-Dams driver now has a commanding lead in the drivers’ championship.
The Puerto Madero street circuit is a favourite amongst the drivers because it provides excellent overtaking opportunities as well as high-speed racing. Once out in front, this was of little consequence to Buemi, but it provided good entertainment throughout the rest of the field.
A clean start for everyone initially saw pole-sitter Lucas di Grassi open a lead of several car-lengths. But Adam Carroll was forced to stop on the start/finish straight, resulting in a full course yellow. This prevented di Grassi from increasing his lead while he had the advantage, and shortly after racing resumed he was overtaken by both Jean-Eric Vergne and Buemi within half a lap.
On paper, there’s little to separate Vergne and Buemi’s cars, and throughout the race it was clear that Renault have developed a very capable setup. When Buemi overtook Vergne under breaking into the first corner, he made it look easy. The fact that JEV ultimately finished second — never keeping pace with the Swiss driver, but also never looking in much danger — suggests that he and Techeetah could have a very strong season this year.
Behind the leading pack, positions changed rapidly. Oliver Turvey, Nicolas Prost and di Grassi formed the chasing pack, ahead of Rosenqvist and the Faraday Future cars.
Sam Bird’s run of bad fortune continued. An early incident with Jérôme d’Ambrosio damaged the rear of his car which ultimately led to him having to return to the pits. He returned to the race in his second car to, unsuccessfully, set the fastest lap.
Bird’s team mate, and focus of the locals’ attention, José María López also had his work cut out for him. A meeting with a wall in the afternoon’s qualifying session saw him start from 17th on the grid. He made up little ground in the first stint of the race, but put on a crowd-pleasing charge in the closing stages that saw him climb into the points.
Mitch Evans, who claimed Jaguar’s best qualifying position yet (7th), kept pace with the mid-field drivers, but at the expense of his car’s energy reserves. He was the first into the pits for a car-swap, followed by everyone apart from Felix Rosenqvist and Nick Heidfeld. The two Mahindra drivers had conserved enough battery to stay out for one more lap. Unfortunately for Rosenqvist, his second car wouldn’t start, wiping out any advantage gained.
Buemi left the pit lane in P1 and never had any need to check his mirrors from that point on. Evans did his best to hold on to a points-position finish, unintentionally aided by Daniel Abt. Abt, whose pace was considerably down on his teammate (running in 2nd) was constantly looking over his shoulder and even deployed his FanBoost in an attempt to stay ahead of his challengers.
As the race reached it’s closing stages, the order of the top three looked settled. Loïc Duval and d’Ambrosio decided to make the last few laps a little more tense for their garage, scrapping for position. They made contact at one point, albeit only slightly, but were forced to ease off by a lack of remaining energy (if not calming words over the radio).
|1.||Sébastien Buemi ??||Renault eDams||25|
|2.||Jean-Éric Vergne ??||Techeetah||18|
|3.||Lucas di Grassi ??||Abt Schaeffler Audi||*18|
|4.||Nicolas Prost ??||Renault eDams||12|
|5.||Nelson Piquet Jr ??||NextEV||10|
|6.||Loïc Duval ??||Faraday Future Dragon||8|
|7.||Daniel Abt ??||Abt Schaeffler Audi||6|
|8.||Jérôme d’Ambrosio ??||Faraday Future Dragon||4|
|9.||Oliver Turvey ??||NextEV||2|
|10.||José María López ??||DS Virgin||1|
*includes 3 bonus points for pole
Felix Rosenqvist – 1 point for fastest lap
Image: Buemi leads the Buenos Aires ePrix © Formula E