PUNTA DEL ESTE, URUGUAY – Sebastien Buemi clinched e.dams-Renault's first win of the season in the 2014 Formula E Julius Baer Punta del Este ePrix with Nelson Piquet Jr. and championship leader Lucas di Grassi completing the podium places.
The Swiss driver fended off Jean-Eric Vergne in the final stages of the race as the Andretti driver pulled over to the side of the track on the penultimate lap.
Buemi said: "I knew he was going to use his FanBoost, clearly we took it a little bit too safe in the last few laps when he started to catch me because I was still trying to save energy. It's a bit silly right now but that is what it is. Then at the restart I locked the rear wheels twice in the chicane so it was a bit on the edge. I knew he was going to be fast but I don't know what happened to him in the end. I'm really happy with today's result."
|On Friday the huge crowd looks on|
Piquet jumped Vergne off the start line to lead into Turn 1 but dropped back as the Andretti driver deployed his FanBoost to re-take the position.
He said: "It was a great start, immediate reaction and the car handled very well. On the first lap I attacked the chicane a little bit too hard trying to build a gap and I think I damaged my front suspension. After that it was just trying to maintain really – that's why we were so slow and holding up everybody. I was locking up going into the corners, the car was lifting a little bit – so it was really nerve wracking for many laps until we finally got the pitstop and then the car was back to normal and that's why we had our speed at the end of the race."
Buemi's win moves the e.dams-Renault driver to second in the championship equal on points with Virgin Racing's Sam Bird, who crashed out on lap three after locking up and launching over the curbs. The two drivers are now 18 points adrift of Lucas di Grassi who picked up his third podium in succession.
Di Grassi said: "I had a very good start – I even managed to overtake Nico Prost, who was one row in front. But then I was squeezed by [Jaime] Alguersuari in the chicane and just managed not to touch the wall and then I'd lost the position to [Nicolas] Prost, Alguersuari and [Nick] Heidfeld. It was quite a bad first corner. After that I was just attacking Jaime for the whole first stint, but Jaime was very aggressive on closing and making us both lose time. Then after the safety car and pitstop, I came straight back behind Nelson after the drive-through [penalties] were done and I managed to close the gap. We proved again that we had the pace and another podium feels good."
Jarno Trulli claimed his first points of the season with a fourth place finish ahead of Alguersuari and Mahindra Racing's Bruno Senna. The Italian driver has endured a tough start in the opening races but believes the team is moving forwards.
He said: "It's a reasonable result for us and good to get our first points for the team. I seemed to be in the wrong place at the wrong time a lot and avoiding the accident cost me time. The team is heading in the right direction though and the test tomorrow should help us take another step forward."
There were mixed fortunes for the drivers making their Formula E debut with Andretti driver Jean-Eric Vergne clinching an impressive pole position and fighting for the lead of the race before pulling over with a suspension issue. Amlin Aguri racer and FanBoost winner Salvador Duran had a quiet race in 16th position.
The race was enjoyed by a sell-out crowd in Punta del Este with 10,000 fans filling the grandstands and many more cheering from nearby balconies. "It's definitely a good circuit, maybe the best circuit so far in terms of speed – really high speed corners, fast chicanes," said di Grassi. "We have to continue in this direction with these circuits – I think more speed and longer straights help for a better race."
|3||Lucas di Grassi||Abt||2.635s|
|14||Jean-Eric Vergne||Andretti||Not running|
|15||Daniel Abt||Abt||3 Laps|
|16||Salvador Duran||Aguri||4 Laps|
|DNF||Antonio Felix da Costa||Aguri||Retired|
CHAMPIONSHIP STANDINGS AFTER THREE ROUNDS:
|1||Lucas di Grassi||58|
|14||Antonio Felix da Costa||4|