Sebastien Buemi drove a controlled race to record e.Dams Renault’s first FIA Formula E win around the streets of Uruguay’s coast, in what was a thrilling Punta del Este ePrix.
Nelson Piquet Jr took a brilliant second place for China Racing, whilst Lucas di Grassi completed the podium in third place to take his third straight top three finish and extend his championship lead to 18 points.
The ‘Monte Carlo of South America’ played host to Round 3 of the inaugural 2014/2015 season as Nelson Piquet Jnr made a great start off the line to steal the lead from pole sitter and debutant Jean-Eric Vergne, who remained ahead of the e.Dams duo of Buemi and Nico Prost.
Daniel Abt began to slow on the second lap as he dropped down the order, whilst Nick Heidfeld used Fanboost to perfection in order move past Virgin Racing’s Jamie Alguersuari.
Sam Bird’s race came to an abrupt halt on lap four as he went wide into Turn 1 and launched over the curbs into the barrier, resulting in the safety car being deployed.
The Brit, who dominated around the streets of Putrajaya, was left with it all to do following a crash in qualifying which saw him start from 17th.
Racing resumed on Lap 7 as Piquet continued to maintain his lead by the smallest of margins over Vergne’s Andretti, who was unable to use the Fanboost due to a technical issue.
A brief second spell under the safety car due to Antonio Felix da Costa’s Amlin Aguri stopping out on track lasted only a single lap, before the green flag was waved to signal racing conditions.
Vergne began hunting down Piquet once more and snatched the lead of the race, launching down the inside into the hairpin, before proceeding to lap more than a second quicker than the rest of the field on the same lap.
Meanwhile Buemi made a late lunge on Piquet for second place as the pair squabbled for position, an overtake which would prove to be crucial to the eventual outcome of the ePrix.
Race leader Vergne became the first to stop on lap 16, as Stephane Sarrazin got all out of shape before spinning out and hitting the barriers – resulting in a third safety car period of the afternoon as the remainder of the field dived into the pits.
Nick Heidfeld appeared to have timed his stop to perfection in order to take the lead ahead of Buemi and Vergne, however a drive through penalty for using too much of his available power put paid to his efforts.
With the race back underway once more on lap 19, Prost became another recipient of a drive through penalty for using more power than allowed.
Battles continued throughout the field with Heidfeld recovering from his penalty to place a textbook pass on Antonio Garcia for 13th.
With just five laps to go Matthew Brabham lost control over the curbs, tearing the front wheel from his Andretti before slamming into the barriers, ending what looked set to be a promising result as the safety car came out for a fourth time.
Brabham had made a brilliant start to claim four places off the line to move into 15th and had occupied the tail end of the points before his crash.
The Safety car returned to the pits with just two laps remaining, setting up a tense finale for the race victory as the field closed up on the recently crowned WEC champion Buemi.
Buemi then got out of shape into the chicane and looked certain to lose the race lead to Vergne, before the 24 year-old Frenchman’s Andretti came to a dramatic stop with suspected suspension failure on the penultimate lap.
The e.Dams driver held it together through the final few corners to claim his first win of the season, becoming the third different victor in three races in the process.
Jarno Trulli was an excellent fourth following an impressive conservative strategy, which saw the Italian record his best finish in Formula E. Behind the 40-year-old came Alguesuari’s Virgin, who held his grid position from the start.
Despite hitting the wall and suffering significant damage, Bruno Senna claimed a sixth place finish after gaining a remarkable 14 places, following his disqualification from qualifying.
Prost came home seventh, ahead of Jerome D’Ambrosio, who was a beneficiary of a great pit stop and made up an impressive eight places to take eighth.
The Belgian’s Dragon Racing team-mate took ninth, whilst Heidfeld rounded out the point’s scorers in 10th.
FIA Formula E Championship – Punta del Este ePrix (Rd 3) – Results:
- Sebastien Buemi, e.dams-Renault, 49:08.990
- Nelson Piquet Jr, China Racing, +0.732s
- Lucas di Grassi, Audi Sport ABT, +2.635s
- Jarno Trulli, Trulli, +4.163s
- Jaime Alguersuari, Virgin Racing, +4.698s
- Bruno Senna, Mahindra Racing, +5.197s
- Nicolas Prost, e.dams-Renault, +6.514s
- Jerome d’Ambrosio, Dragon Racing, +7.567s
- Oriol Servia, Dragon Racing, +8.646s
- Nick Heidfeld, Venturi, +10.563s
- Antonio Garcia, China Racing, +10.594s
- Michela Cerruti, Trulli, +19.617s
- Karun Chandhok, Mahindra Racing, +54.175s
- Jean-Eric Vergne, Andretti, +2 laps
- Daniel Abt, Audi Sport ABT, +3 laps
- Salvador Duran, Amlin Aguri, +4 laps
- Matthew Brabham, Andretti, DNF
- Stephane Sarrazin, Venturi, DNF
- Antonio Felix da Costa, Amlin Aguri, DNF
- Sam Bird, Virgin Racing, DNF