Formula E charges on in Buenos Aires [w/video]
Tricky Turn 10 Eats The Leaders In Argentina's Electric Race
Qualifying for the Buenos Aires ePrix saw Sebastien Buemi take pole position for the Renault-support e.dams team, followed by fellow former grand prix drivers Jaime Alguersuari and Nick Heidfeld. Sam Bird took fourth, followed by points leader Lucas di Grassi, Jean-Eric Vergne, Nicolas Prost, Antonio Felix da Costa, Nelson Piquet Jr and Karun Chandhok. Series newcomer Marco Andretti, filling the seat vacated by the suspended Franck Montagny, qualified in fourteenth position, Bruno Senna started from the back of the grid and Jarno Trulli – driver and manager of his own team – failed to qualify.
Through the FanBoost voting system, the public awarded extra power to Nick Heidfeld, Bruno Senna and Jean-Eric Vergne for use for five seconds of their choosing any time during the race.
Pole-sitter Buemi led di Grassi and Heidfeld in the opening laps right up until Chandhok became the first to hit the wall at Turn 10 of the street circuit set up around the Parque Micaela Bastidas in the Argentina capital. The Indian driver's crash, caused by suspension failure, prompted the BMW i8 safety car to be deployed, and sent the drivers one after another to change cars – a central (and requisite) feature of a Formula E race since the batteries can't last the race distance.
Buemi held on to the lead, but not for long before he ran into the wall at the same spot, taking him out of the race as well. Di Grassi then inherited the lead until he too slammed into that same barrier, indicating a deep flaw in the circuit layout. That left Sam Bird – an up-and-comer in a field of former F1 drivers – to take the lead, and lead he did until he served a drive-through penalty for ignoring the red light at the pit exit. That left Heidfeld at the front of the pack until he, too, took a penalty for a pit-lane infraction.
That left da Costa – a Portuguese driver with Red Bull support and an F3 Macau Grand Prix win under his belt – to take the lead, and lead he did straight through to the checkered flag. Having missed the opening round in Beijing, finished eighth in Malaysia and failed to finish in Uruguay, this was by far his best result in the series to date.
Behind him finished Prost, Piquet, Alguersuari, Senna, Vergne and Bird, followed by Salvador Duran, Nick Heidfeld and Oriol Servia to round out the top ten. Ho-Pin Tung, Marco Andretti, Daniel Abt and Jerome d'Ambrosio also made it to the finish line, with the remaining five drivers failing to finish.
After four rounds in the championship, and despite his DNF (did not finish) classification this weekend, di Grassi holds on to a commanding ten-point lead in the drivers' standings with 58 points to runner-up Bird's 48, Buemi's 43 and Prost's 42. e.dams-Renault leads the teams' standings with 85 points to Virgin's 74 and Audi Sport Abt's 62. After a two-month break, the next race will be held in Miami on March 14, followed by Long Beach on April 4 before the circus sails to Europe for the races in Monte Carlo, Berlin and London.
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