BUEMI MAKES IT A HAT-TRICK

FOR­MULA E AC­TION RE­TURNS IN AR­GENTINA

Motor Sport News - - Front Page -

S

ebastien Buemi chalked up a lit­tle piece of For­mula E his­tory last week­end, be­com­ing the first driver in the fledg­ling se­ries’ two-and-a-bit sea­sons to record three vic­to­ries in a row.

It may have taken more than three months for the elec­tric sin­gle-seater cham­pi­onship to move from round two to round three, but Buemi made sure he picked up ex­actly where he left off in 2016.

This was not just an­other Buemi win though, it was ar­guably his best yet. In Ar­gentina he faced his big­gest test yet – and passed with fly­ing colours.

Buemi was out­qual­i­fied on merit by Lu­cas di Grassi – who earned his first For­mula E pole in the process – and Jean-eric Vergne, who has threat­ened great pace with his cus­tomer Re­nault pow­er­train since the start of the season. Buemi didn’t look mas­sively con­fi­dent in qual­i­fy­ing, af­ter a dis­rupted cou­ple of prac­tice ses­sions left him with only one real 200kw ef­fort and no real long runs. He didn’t go in blind, but he was com­pro­mised.

Come the race, he went wheel-towheel with di Grassi – his ri­val of the past two sea­sons – and Vergne – a man with the same pow­er­train as Buemi. That’s the first time this season he’s re­ally had to do that – and, given Buemi’s al­ways kept team-mate Ni­co­las Prost at arm’s length, it’s the first time in For­mula E’s open pow­er­train era Buemi’s had an ‘equal’ on track.

Suc­ces­sive moves on di Grassi and Vergne were ruth­less to rise from third to first in the open­ing six laps. First, Buemi re­acted im­me­di­ately to Vergne pass­ing di Grassi for the lead on lap three, fol­low­ing him through into sec­ond two cor­ners later. His dive in­side Vergne to move to the head of the field, from some way back, was met with no re­sis­tance but was con­sum­mate nonethe­less.

Then, as only Buemi re­ally can, he bolted. The hard work for this win was done in the mid­dle of the open­ing stint, with a suc­ces­sion of laps in the 1m11s as his ri­vals barely made it out of the 1m12s. That mar­riage of blis­ter­ing speed when needed, with­out eat­ing into the amount of use­able en­ergy, is now a Buemi/re­nault hall­mark.

It gave Buemi a five-sec­ond cush­ion head­ing into the car swaps, and the job looked done. But a brak­ing prob­lem with his sec­ond car and a resur­gent Vergne once he’d swapped one Techee­tah for an­other en­sured this was not eas­ily earned. “I came here for three years in a row and I was more or less quick­est each time ,” said Buemi. “I lost first year be­cause of a mis­take and sec­ond year as well,” he said. “It was im­por­tant to make sure I could do a good job this year.”

As Vergne slashed the gap from five sec­onds to two, Buemi made his only er­ror of the race, a wob­ble un­der brak­ing for Turn 1 on the penul­ti­mate lap. The Swiss driver com­posed him­self af­ter that “lit­tle mis­take”, though, and com­fort­ably ex­tended his gap with a su­perb fi­nal lap that even­tu­ally put him 2.8s clear at the flag.

“At least I could put some pres­sure on him,” Vergne ac­cepted. “I’m sure he’s go­ing to go to sleep happy but he knows he’s got an op­po­nent who is re­ally hun­gry for vic­to­ries and has the whole package now.

“From the be­gin­ning of the day I had one car that was a sec­ond slower, I have no idea why. I knew it was go­ing to be a tough stint and it was. That’s why I didn’t try to fight Seb. In the sec­ond car the pace was much faster than him – that’s our real pace and that’s what every­body can ex­pect for the next race.”

Be­hind Vergne, di Grassi was a rel­a­tively com­fort­able third – though he dropped be­hind Nex­tev’s Oliver Tur­vey and Prost in the first stint. A slow out­lap from Tur­vey, who swapped cars a lap ear­lier than the other front run­ners, meant di Grassi emerged from the pits back in fourth, and he made lit­tle work of Prost to bag his sec­ond podium of the season. A post-race stew­ards in­ves­ti­ga­tion into an un­safe release, af­ter di Grassi and Nel­son Pi­quet Jr nar­rowly avoided con­tact in the pits, threat­ened that ros­trum but di Grassi’s pun­ish­ment was merely a rep­ri­mand and a fine. It means he re­mains Buemi’s near­est chal­lenger but is 29 points adrift.

Tur­vey fell back to ninth as he strug­gled to manage his bat­tery tem­per­a­ture in the sec­ond stint, while fel­low Brits Sam Bird and Adam Car­roll had mis­er­able races. Bird qual­i­fied poorly af­ter top­ping prac­tice and con­tact early on set the tone for a race that was spent at the back and then ended pre­ma­turely af­ter he shunted into the wall. Car­roll failed to launch ini­tially and sparked a full-course yel­low – he just man­aged to get his Jaguar I-type 1 go­ing be­fore fall­ing a lap down, but then sped un­der the cau­tion he in­sti­gated and picked up a penalty.

Buemi claimed a win hat-trick

Chas­ing) put up a stern chal­lenge Di Grassi (lead­ing) and Vergne (

lead Swiss driver has a healthy points

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from UK

© PressReader. All rights reserved.