A Tale of Two Drivers and Teams
A reality show drama played out today in Montréal in the penultimate round of the FIA Formula E World Championship as the championship leader going into the weekend, Sebastien Buemi, and challenger Lucas Di Grassi demonstrated the highs and lows of international motorsports and swapped the championship lead.
A Near Perfect Day
For the Brazilian challenger, Di Grassi, who entered the day trailing Buemi by 10 points, it was a great day. He gained three points by taking his Abt Schaeffler Audi Sport car to the pole, then led all the way to claim his second victory of the Formula e season. He missed out only on the point for fastest race lap.
For Buemi, who had scored six wins in the first eight races, but sacrificed much of his championship lead when he missed the recent New York doubleheader due to a schedule conflict, the day was a near disaster.
A touch of the left wall with the left front wheel of his Renault e.Dams machine entering the final chicane in the second morning practice session put the Swiss ace heavily into the right chicane wall, extensively damaging his primary car.
Buemi, who qualified second in his alternate car, took a 10-place grid penalty for the race. From there, it was a remarkable demonstration of damage control by the Renault e.Dams team. They built up the spare tub in the five hours between his crash and the race start, pushing it to the grid just moments before the deadline
While Di Grassi jumped to the lead, at the start, Buemi was swamped, bumped and dropped all the way to 16th place in the 20 car field. But championships are often won by great recoveries and Buemi showed his talent as he moved into the top ten before a mid-race safety car.
Emerging from the mid-race car swap in eighth position in a car that had not yet turned a wheel, Buemi fought his way to fourth place and pulled alongside Stephane Sarrazin for the third in the final lap but came up short as the two banged wheels.
Up the road, Di Grassi held off a strong challenge from Sarrazin’s Techeetah teammate Jean Eric Vergne in the closing stages to secure the victory.
Heading into Sunday’s final race, it is now Di Grassi suddenly atop the Driver’s championship by six points in a series where the difference between first and second place counts for seven.
Finishing fifth was Di Grassi’s teammate Daniel Abt who had his own coming together with Buemi on pit lane. Followed by Sam Bird, who overtook Felix Rosenqvist for third in the championship with the result. Buemi’s teammate Nico Prost brought the second Renault e.Dams car home seventh.