Category Archives: Formula E

Three interesting stories from the Mexico City ePrix

Lucas Di Grassi went from last to first
Lucas di Grassi took an amazing victory in Mexico thanks to an unusual strategy and some brilliant tactical driving. Di Grassi dropped to last place after sustaining damage on lap 1 so his team took a risk that required Lucas to use roughly 20% less electrical energy than his rivals. They took a ‘free’ pitstop when the safety car bunched the field before half distance, and although this gifted Di Grassi the lead when everyone else stopped later in the race, it meant he had to make his battery last 28 laps (when it was only expected to last 23-24 laps). It was a seemingly impossible task, but he saved plenty under yellow flags, changed his racing lines and coasted off the throttle wherever possible. It was a masterful performance of economical driving whilst the field nipped at his heels.

Di Grassi was lucky that Jerome d’Ambrosio was acting as a buffer in 2nd place holding up cars behind him. That was a huge assistance but it also helped illustrate how brilliant Di Grassi’s drive was. D’Ambrosio was on the same strategy and was lapping around the same pace, but started falling down the order with three laps to go and ran out of juice completely on the last lap. Lucas di Grassi had enough battery life remaining for burnouts on his way to the podium.

Abt Audi Sport failed scrutineering yet again
Daniel Abt had pole position stripped from him in Mexico after his car was found with tyre pressures too low for the regulations. It was likely an innocent mistake, but it is the third time the Abt Audi Sport team has been penalised for failing scrutineering. Lucas di Grassi lost a win in season 1 when his team illegally modified the front wing and he lost another win in Season 2 when the car was underweight. Those disqualifications cost the team two championships so you would expect they’d now be extra vigilant about complying with the regulations, but surprisingly that wasn’t the case.

Sebastien Buemi made another costly mistake.
Sebastien Buemi has dominated the current Formula E season but had a difficult weekend in Mexico with a scrappy qualifying session and a costly spin during the race. It threw some light on the suggestion that, whilst Buemi is very quick, he makes a lot of mistakes. Depending how you count them (and how harsh you want to be in judgement) Sebastien Buemi has made 15 mistakes in 25 races which is a very high number for the category’s most successful driver. Some of those errors have had no consequence – he ran off the road twice during the first Punta del Este ePrix which he still won – whilst some of those arguably cost him the first championship.

Buemi’s Formula E stats are way ahead of any other driver, but the number of mistakes against his name remains an ongoing weakness.

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The final race of the Formula E season produced brilliant drama

  • The title contenders, Lucas Di Grassi and Sebastien Buemi, were tied on points in a perfect winner-takes-all scenario. Incredibly, they crashed on lap 1 in a championship defining moment.
  • Formula E offers bonus points for fastest laps which meant both drivers returned to the pits, got into their second cars, and treated the race like a qualifying session. Their laptimes, not their finishing positions, would then decide the championship winner.
  • Buemi did enough to win the Formula E title having lost it by a single point in the final race last year. It would’ve been cruel had that happened to him again.

 

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The last Formula E race was amazing

As per this graphic, last month’s Formula E race in Argentina was a thriller. Not only did Sébastien Buemi go on a stunning charge from the back of the grid (which saw him overtake almost every other driver) but there were was constant jostling for position throughout the whole field. Here’s hoping for another spectacular race when the series visits Mexico this weekend.

2016BuenosAiresePrix

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FE: The Putrajaya ePrix was crazy

Formula E has a tendency to throw up some crazy events but the recent Putrajaya ePrix was particularly special. To illustrate just how unpredictable the race was, Stephane Sarrazin started from the pitlane about a minute behind everybody else but still finished in 4th. Amongst the chaos, Robin Frijns completed a spectacular drive to 3rd with heavily damaged suspension. His valiant efforts are captured 30 seconds into this video.

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FE: There are two interesting things in this video about Formula E engine noise

1. Even though they’re still very quiet, different cars now make slightly different sounds as teams are allowed to develop their own electric motors for the first time.

2. Some of the cars now have one gear only which sounds a little unnatural coming from an open-wheeler.

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FE: Formula E will be Jacques Villeneuve’s 15th different series since leaving F1

JV

Jacques Villeneuve is joining the second season of Formula E which means he will have competed in 15 different championships since leaving Formula One 9 years ago. Perhaps the most impressive aspect of Villeneuve’s post-F1 career is that it has been incredibly varied, stretching all the way from rallycross to open wheelers.

Argentine Top Race V6
Australian V8 Supercars
Baku City Challenge
Brazilian Stock Car
FIA GT
FIA World Rallycross
Formula E
French GT
IndyCar
Le Mans Series
NASCAR Canadian Tire Series
NASCAR Craftsman Truck Series
NASCAR Nationwide Series
NASCAR Sprint Cup
Speedcar Series

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FE: The inaugural Formula E championship was decided in the last 15 seconds of the season

It’s moments like this that make live sport so compelling – the motor racing equivalent of a penalty shootout.

Sebastien Buemi had to finish Sunday’s race 5th or higher to win the championship but was stuck running 6th in the dying stages. With only a few corners remaining, Buemi threw caution to the wind and made one last desperate attempt to pass Bruno Senna for the position he needed. In doing so he ensured the championship would be decided in single thrilling moment. Buemi ‘risked it for a biscuit’ but had to watch the title slip from his fingertips within sight of the chequered flag. Agonising stuff.

A Hollywood finish was the perfect way to wrap up a season of close exciting racing.‪‪

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FE: Peugeot-Citroen could shake up Formula E next season

Rumours emerged over the Moscow Formula E weekend that, not only is the PSA Peugeot Citroen company considering entering the series with one of its brands, it has even tested an engine at its facility near Paris. The arrival of Peugeot or Citroen would be a huge boost for Formula E as it promotes new technology next season, but it would also give the other teams something to worry about. Since the PSA Group stopped making Formula 1 engines in 2000 they have been hugely successful in motorsport and everything they’ve touched has quickly turned into gold.

PSA

Formula E could be next.

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FE: A bitter rivalry has emerged in Formula E

Lucas di Grassi and Nelson Piquet Junior are fighting for the inaugural Formula E Championship and with four races to go their rivalry has grown increasingly bitter. Piquet accused di Grassi of blocking him during qualifying at Monaco and since that point the following war of words has played out between the two:

Lucas di Grassi

“The way I approach racing, I don’t complain, I do my job. Nelson has been complaining a lot.”

“I don’t think he (Piquet) is the strongest rival. He has just had a good run in the last few races.”

Nelson Piquet Junior

“We have raced together in many series and I have always been in front of him, there is no comparison.”

“Since we raced together, Lucas has never really fought for a championship before. He has always been close but never there.”

“I’ve won championships in Brazil, national go karts, F3 championships. I’ve won championships in England, British F3, so I think he (di Grassi) is the least of my worries.”

Di Grassi was disqualified from the latest race in Berlin, handing the championship lead to Piquet.

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FE: Two great stories came out of the Long Beach Formula E race

FEL

The first great story from Long Beach is that Formula E produced its sixth different winner in six races. Not only that, but there have now been six different drivers to set fastest lap and five different pole-sitters. That’s quite amazing and it illustrates just how close and exciting the racing has been all season. The title is still wide open and any driver in the top ten who can win two of the remaining five races will vault themselves into a championship winning position.

The second great story from Long Beach is that Nelson Piquet Junior took his first win at the same venue where his dad won for the first time in Formula One 35 years ago. That’s a wonderful coincidence and it’s a nice family story for Formula E, especially since Piquet Junior was wearing his father’s helmet colours. If that sort of symmetry continues, the Andretti team might want Matthew Brabham back in their car for the next round at Monaco where Sir Jack Brabham took his first Formula One win in 1959!

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