The dominant colours at the first day of the Visa London ePrix, held in the fantastic setting of Battersea Park, were yellow and blue. The colours are those of the e.dams-Renault team, which thanks to a victory courtesy of Sebastien Buemi and a seventh place for Nicolas Prost, took the first ever team title in the history of Formula E.
This was Buemi’s third win of the season, following on from those in Punta del Este and Monaco and it means the fight for the drivers’ title is wide open again, given that series leader Nelson Piquet Jr, finished fifth, also beaten by fellow countryman Lucas di Grassi, who was fourth.
The first and probably decisive building block in Buemi’s victory came shortly after 1pm, when he set the fastest time in qualifying. Starting from what Formula E’s Global Partner christened the number one slot on the grid, the Julius Baer Pole Position, was the key, especially as the start was taken behind the Qualcomm Safety Car. This decision was taken after Turn 1 had to be modified on safety grounds, so all the cars set off behind the pace car. Just as he did in Monaco on May 9, Buemi soon set the pace and built up a lead of a handful of seconds, which meant he was able to run the race as he pleased. He richly deserved the haul of 28 points, which means not only does he jump up into second place in the drivers’ classification, but above all, he has closed the gap to the leader to just five points.
The only goal which escaped the Swiss driver was the Visa Fastest Lap Trophy, which went to Lucas di Grassi. Having started third on the grid, the Audi Sport ABT driver had to concentrate more on defending his position from his direct rival in the title fight, than on attacking those in front of him. There were some truly exciting moments in the duel between the two Brazilians, with Piquet trying to make the most of the FanBoost and di Grassi grittily defending, although it was not enough to prevent Jean-Eric Vergne getting past. The Scuderia Ferrari test driver, in his Andretti car, started from fifth, but was one of the fastest in the race, managing to pass both Brazilians.
Jerome D’Ambrosio came home second, racking up his second front running finish in the championship. Dragon Racing’s Belgian driver started from the front row and produced a really impeccable drive, taking a result that’s very important for the team which is still fighting for the runner-up slot in the teams’ classification.
Of the other points finishers, Sam Bird came home sixth, getting the better of fellow countryman, Oliver Turvey, the best of the five rookies, who took a strong ninth place. The remaining points finishers were all French: Prost seventh, Duval eighth and Sarrazin tenth. Just outside the points was Switzerland’s Simona de Silvestro, whose eleventh place was the best result for a woman driver this season.
The tenth race is now over, but there’s barely time to pause for breath: for the first time, a round is made up of two races on consecutive days, much to the delight of the large crowd of Londoners and tourists, who packed Battersea Park today, filling the grandstands as part of an overall crowd of more than 25,000. Tomorrow therefore we have the final race of the championship, which will decide the drivers’ title. Yesterday, six of them were in with a chance of being crowned the very first Formula E champion, but now it’s down to just three: Piquet, Buemi and di Grassi. The NEXTEV TCR driver starts with a five point advantage over his e.dams-Renault rival, while Audi Sport ABT’s Brazilian faces a 13 point deficit: with 30 points to play for, anything can still happen!