Monaco ePrix: Buemi Cruises to Confident Victory

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It was a day of mixed fortunes in the principality, but it was Renault e.Dams and Sebastian Buemi, who cruised to victory in the 2017 Monaco ePrix. Lucas Di Grassi kept the championship alive in second, unable to snatch the win in the final laps, despite his best efforts to overtake his rival. The Mahindra of Nick Heidfeld took third, after starting eighth – the German capitalising on a tussle between third-place Nelson Piquet Jr and fourth-place Jean-Eric Vergne, that saw the latter end his day in the barriers, leaving Heidfeld to sneak by the pair, and take the final podium place.

Jean-Eric Vergne (FRA), Techeetah
Photo: Malcolm Griffiths/LAT/Formula E

Buemi led the pack from pole as the lights went green, with Heidfeld performing a double overtake on Engel and Rosenqvist, seeing him up into P5. Second place Di Grassi was almost under Buemi’s gearbox, but used all his experience to keep his nose clean. Despite a decent start for most, others suffered from the accordion effect of the first corner, with Piquet almost a casualty of the wall, narrowly missing rear-suspension damage after a visit into the barrier. The DS Virgin of Bird made up three places into P7, while team-mate Lopez rued a broken nose and rear wing, after being collected by Abt in the first-corner. While Engel capitalised on his strong qualifying, it was an unlucky start for team-mate Sarrazin, who stalled on the grid and found himself in last place.

With Buemi beginning to pull out a lead over Di Grassi, lap eight saw the first inevitable casualty of such a tight street circuit, as Bird struck the kerb at Tabac, losing the rear end and finding himself a passenger into the wall. With a damaged rear suspension, the Brit was forced to pit, undoing his excellent start. As team-mate Lopez was shown the black and orange flag for damage sustained earlier in the race, DS Virgin saw their mechanics earning their keep, with Lopez pitting for immediate repair, as Bird’s car returned to track a lap down.

Lucas Di Grassi (BRA), ABT Schaeffler Audi Sport, Spark-Abt Sportsline, ABT Schaeffler
Photo: Sam Bloxham/LAT/Formula E

With Buemi and Di Grassi unchallenged at the front of the pack, third-place Piquet found himself on the front wing of the Techeetah of Vergne. Not to be outdone, Monaco débutante and Macau master Felix Rosenqvist, showed his street circuit skills, harassing Engel for P5 while keeping Abt in check behind, in a spicy but clean mid-field battle. However, as Buemi’s lead stretched to 4.3 seconds, Vergne’s patience with Piquet grew thin, hassling the NextEV, but finding the door closed. An ambitious outside move from Vergne saw Piquet leave no room, and as the pair locked front tyres, Piquet scrambled with the wheel, but the loss of control and inevitable passenger effect saw Vergne’s day end in the wall. Piquet continued, but having lost a podium place to Heidfeld.

With the safety car out, the collision triggered a wave of pit stops. First, Duval and D’Ambrosio, looking to capitalise on penalties that saw the Dragon pair start the race from the back, and attempt to see their second cars to the line. Despite some 30 laps remaining, the pack followed suit, emerging with Buemi leading from Di Grassi and Heidfeld. As Buemi nailed the restart, the top three began to pull away, while Dragon’s day continued to worsen, with D’Ambrosio stopping and starting on track, dropping down to P17, before pitting with further issues. After a processional series of laps, DS Virgin’s race was also languishing, with both cars were pitted again, and changes made in an attempt to secure fastest lap, which Bird achieved, to score a solitary point for the team.

With six laps remaining, Di Grassi narrowed the gap to Buemi to half a second, and had one final shot at victory. While weighing up where to make the attempt on Buemi, both were caught up in traffic, leaving Di Grassi down on time by the penultimate lap, yet to make a successful attempt. The final chase to the flag saw a last-ditch overtake attempt from Di Grassi, but the sprint to the checkered flag was simply too short, and Di Grassi couldn’t find the space to make a move stick. Buemi crossed the line to take victory, with Di Grassi just behind, Heidfeld in third, with Piquet, Engel, Rosenqvist, Abt, Gutierrez, Da Costa, and Prost, making up the points.

Sebastien Buemi (SUI), Renault e.Dams, Spark-Renault
Photo: Andrew Ferraro/LAT/Formula E

The Formula E season continues next weekend at the Paris ePrix, on May 20.