|2015 Punta del Este ePrix|
The Punta del Este circuit
|Date||19th December 2015|
|Official Name||Formula E Punta del Este ePrix|
|Location||Playa Brava Beach, Punta del Este|
|Lap length||2.8km (1.74mi)|
|Distance||33 laps / 92.4km (57.4mi)|
|Pole Sitter||Jérôme d'Ambrosio|
|Fastest Lap||1:17.413 on lap 23|
|Sébastien Buemi||Lucas di Grassi||Jérôme d'Ambrosio|
|Winner Team||Renault e.Dams|
A dramatic qualifying session saw Jérôme d'Ambrosio claim a shock first pole position for Dragon Racing, with several drivers making mistakes at crucial moments. One of those was Sébastien Buemi, who started fifth after locking up in the Super Pole Shootout, but recovered to claim his second victory of the season. That left the Swiss driver one point clear of Lucas di Grassi at the top of the Championship, as the Brazilian claimed second and d'Ambrosio finished third.
The big news story to emerge in the month and a half break between Putrajaya and Punta del Este was the announcement of the 2016 Mexico City ePrix, a new venue for the Championship. Becoming the fifth race of the new season, the Mexico City ePrix replaced the Miami ePrix from the first season, while its announcement was delayed due to other events at the Autódromo Hermanos Rodríguez circuit, such as Formula One. The race, which had been rumoured since the announcement of the original calendar despite the earlier ommittance of a fifth round, is set to use the main straight and back half of the established F1 circuit layout.
In the week before the race there were also two shock announcements that would affect the entry list for both the current and future seasons. First, the Trulli Formula E Team announced their withdrawal from the Championship, having failed to start either of the two races so far, and suffering with major issues on their car. That left eighteen cars on the grid for the rest of the season, but hope that the series would continue to grow was announced just a few hours later. Jaguar, a British car manufacturer and racing legends made a surprise announcement that they would be returning to international motorsport with a factory backed effort in Formula E, joining the series for the third season.
Elsewhere, a series of new partnerships and projects were announced by the FIA, with the largest concerning a new support series for the Championship, to debut in 2016/17. A deal with Kinetic, a firm involved in Artificial Intelligence development specifically for driverless cars, saw the creation of ROBORACE, a brand new series of electric racing, without any input from drivers. These driverless cars are planned to do battle for an hour before each ePrix in the third season, using computer algorithms calculated in real time, with the aim of promoting, and helping to develop, one of the newest sectors in the automotive world.
Driver-wise, Nick Heidfeld had been advised to have surgery on a wrist injury sustained during the Putrajaya round, meaning he would miss the Uruguayan encounter. Mahindra therefore drafted Oliver Rowland, newly crowned Formula Renault 3.5 Series Champion, to take German's place, whom is expected to be fit and ready to return in Buenos Aires. There were also modifications made to the Punta del Este circuit, with the first chicane reversed to move the pit exit off of the racing line for safety reasons.
Meanwhile, the Championship battle had a surprising look to it given the dominance and pace of the Renault e.Dams machines. Two poles and two fastest laps for Sébastien Buemi had only been converted into a single victory for the Swiss, after both he and team mate Nicolas Prost suffered electrical and overheating issues in Putrajaya. Their demise saw a victory for Lucas di Grassi, who brought an eight point lead over Buemi into the third round. Sam Bird sat in third ahead of the weekend, having twice recovered from poor qualifying results to score solid points.
The events in Malaysia had also seen ABT Schaeffler Audi Sport climb to the top of the table in the Teams' Championship, with the all conquering e.Dams slipping to second. Mahindra Racing were a content third, becoming part of a three way battle between DS Virgin Racing, and Dragon Racing, for the best of the rest honour.
The full entry list for the 2015 Punta del Este ePrix is displayed below:
The demise of the Trulli Formula E Team meant that two of the four qualifying groups would have four cars, with the other two seeing five cars on track. The five quickest drivers in the group phase were to then go through to the Super Pole Shootout, with the slowest driver going first to set a lap on their own, before the second slowest car went out and so on.
NEXTEV TCR would have to prepare two cars for group one, as Nelson Piquet, Jr. and Oliver Turvey were drawn into the first session of qualifying. Joining them on circuit were Jean-Eric Vergne, hoping to kickstart his season with a strong quali-performance at the circuit in which he made his début, and Nathanaël Berthon.
Turvey's lap was enough to beat team mate Piquet Jr., with a tenth seperating the pair, as they went one-two to start the session. Jean-Eric Vergne made a mistake early in his lap, but as he tried to regain time later in the lap got caught behind Nathanaël Berthon, ending any chance for the Frenchman to recover lost time. Berthon, however, escaped punishment, and ended the first group stage a second behind the two NEXTEV machines.
The second group saw the first of the big hitters join the session, with Championship leader Lucas di Grassi headlining the group. Nicolas Prost would be aiming to best the Brazilian, having been unable to match his team mate's pace earlier in the day. Sam Bird, Robin Frijns and Jérôme d'Ambrosio would also hit the track in group two, with all three hoping to cause an upset.
Prost set the first lap of the second group, but it was di Grassi who ended the group as the best driver, both in group and overall. More shocking was the fact that both d'Ambrosio and Bird also managed to beat the Frenchman, leaving him on the verge of missing the Super Pole session. Frijns, meanwhile, split the two NEXTEV cars for Andretti.
Group three was the second group to contain five cars, with Daniel Abt potentially having the equipment to challenge for the Super Pole Shootout, although for suggested that the German was struggling. Loïc Duval and Stéphane Sarrazin were battling to be the best of the Venturi wielding drivers, with António Félix da Costa aiming to be the best of those with older equipment. Oliver Rowland would make his Formula E qualifying debut as the fifth man in the quintet.
Duval set the pace in group three, joining team mate d'Ambrosio in the top five, leaving Prost in fifth, right on the margin for missing the Shootout. Abt missed out on beating Prost by a fraction of a second, with da Costa also impressing, going fastest of those using the season one technology. Sarrazin fell to thirteenth overall at the end of qualifying, gping half a second slower than Prost in fifth, while Rowland set a time three and a half seconds slower than the Frenchman.
The final six minute group was to be a quartet, featuring the favourite for pole and the man unbeaten in qualifying, Sébastien Buemi. Simona de Silvestro was hoping for her best quali result of the season, having been beaten by her team mate in the two previous sessions, while Jacques Villeneuve was hoping to show more promise than he had in practice. Bruno Senna completed the final quartet.
Buemi went out early and thrashed out a time good enough to go fastest overall and knock team mate Prost out of the Super Pole slots. Senna ended the session in ninth overall while de Silvestro went over two seconds slower than Frijns, her team mate, had managed earlier. Then there was Villeneuve, with the Canadian pushing hard to beat his team mate, only to write off his Venturi in a huge accident that halted the group stages early.
First man out to set a time in the Super Pole session was Bird, whom managed to go slower than he had done earlier in the session. Duval went next, beating Bird's time before a stunning lap by his Dragon Racing team mate d'Ambrosio saw the Belgian go fastest, and become a serious threat to the earlier pace setters. Di Grassi was next out, but his lap was ruined early on after brushing the wall at the start of his lap, paving the way for Buemi. The Swiss was pushing hard, smashing d'Ambrosio's first sector time, before braking too hard, and too late, for turn eight, destroying his lap and leaving him over four seconds behind d'Ambrosio.
The final qualifying result for the 2015 Punta del Este ePrix are outlined below:
|2015 Punta del Este ePrix Qualifying Result|
|1||7||Jérôme d'Ambrosio||Dragon Racing||1:15.498||—||1|
|2||6||Loïc Duval||Dragon Racing||1:15.875||+0.377s||2|
|3||2||Sam Bird||DS Virgin Racing||1:16.109||+0.611s||3|
|4||11||Lucas di Grassi||ABT Schaeffler Audi Sport||1:16.635||+1.137s||4|
|5||9||Sébastien Buemi||Renault e.Dams||1:19.811||+4.313s||5|
|6||8||Nicolas Prost||Renault e.Dams||1:15.913||—||6|
|7||66||Daniel Abt||ABT Schaeffler Audi Sport||1:15.993||+0.080s||7|
|8||55||António Félix da Costa||Team Aguri||1:16.014||+0.101s||8|
|9||21||Bruno Senna||Mahindra Racing||1:16.048||+0.135s||9|
|10||88||Oliver Turvey||NEXTEV TCR||1:16.154||+0.241s||10|
|11||27||Robin Frijns||Andretti Autosport||1:16.255||+0.342s||11|
|12||1||Nelson Piquet Jr.||NEXTEV TCR||1:16.300||+0.387s||12|
|14||77||Nathanaël Berthon||Team Aguri||1:17.573||+1.660s||14|
|15||28||Simona de Silvestro||Andretti Autosport||1:18.281||+2.368s||15|
|16||23||Oliver Rowland||Mahindra Racing||1:19.414||+3.501s||16|
|17||25||Jean-Eric Vergne||DS Virgin Racing||1:19.946||+4.033s||17|
|18||12||Jacques Villeneuve||Venturi||No Time||18|
A dry and warm Saturday afternoon was to play host to the race, with Jérôme d'Ambrosio taking the pole spot for the first time. Otherwise, there were two issues to deal with ahead of the race, the first only affecting Venturi, whom had lost Jacques Villeneuve after the Canadian demolished one of his cars in qualifying. Secondy, the costal setting of Punta del Este, combined with the breeze coming off the sea meant sand, which was being blown onto the outside of the circuit, and, more importantly, covering the even side of the grid. They were expected to have a disadvantage off the line, although only the actual start would reveal the true impact of the sandy shores.
The dust proved to be as much of a hinderence as expected at the start, as the starters on the dirty side of the grid all lost atleast one position off the line. That left d'Ambrosio to sprint clear at the front of the field, ahead of Sam Bird whom had launched ahead of Loïc Duval to take second. Sébastien Buemi was already up into fourth by taking Lucas di Grassi off the line, before the field funnelled through the tight first chicane. Jean-Eric Vergne, at the back of the field, was the only man not to attempt to follow the circuit, cutting through the pitexit to avoid making contact with anyone.
The opening lap concluded with d'Ambrosio a second clear of Bird, with the Brit already coming under pressure from Duval from behind. Buemi was also in close attendance, dragging di Grassi in his wake, while Nicolas Prost kept pressure on the second ABT Schaeffler Audi Sport car of Daniel Abt, ahead of an enticing scrap between Bruno Senna and António Félix da Costa. The Brazilian was defending resolutely, while the Portuguese racer tried every trick in the book to force his way by in the opening stages, with the pace beginning to settle as the leaders completed their second lap.
Buemi, meanwhile, was shaping up a move on Duval, and on lap four slung his Renault e.Dams machine past the Dragon to take third. Bird was dispatched with moments later, the Brit left to fight off Duval, while the Swiss driver sprinted off to catch d'Ambrosio, whom was steadily building a gap to the rest of the field as Buemi battled. Duval then pounced on Bird, who was struggling with the pace of the leaders, soon coming under the sights of di Grassi, the man desperate to catch Buemi.
By lap eight Buemi was found under the rear wing of d'Ambrosio's car in their battle for the lead, the Swiss also setting fastest lap in the process. Senna, meanwhile, was forced into the pits with damage to his car having run wide and hit the wall, meaning he would ultimately retire with no battery life left in his second car. It was as the leading pair were coming up to lap Senna that the Swiss driver pounced, slinging his car up the inside of the Belgian into the final chicane to snatch the lead, met with a large cheer from the crowd around the final section of the circuit.
Prost was trying hard to get within a respectable distance of his team mate but was being met with heavy resistance from Abt, until the Frenchman forced his way by unseen. Just ahead, di Grassi slotted his car up the inside of Bird into the final chicane to take fourth, leaving him in the wake of Duval to get onto the podium. The trio were also closing onto the back of d'Ambrosio, who was running four seconds behind Buemi, with the slowly developing quartet holding station as the halfway mark, and pitstops, approached.
The entire top six stopped on lap seventeen, an interesting scenaro for Dragon as d'Ambrosio and Duval came in nose to tail, ahead of di Grassi and Bird who both locked up their cars trying not to hit the men in front of them. As they emerged from their garages it was Buemi who left first, ahead of di Grassi whom leapt ahead of both Dragon cars by virtue of his garage being further up the pitlane than the Dragon pits, meaning they were held as his car went past. Bird also gained, slotting ahead of Duval in the stops, with Oliver Rowland ending up with the lead of the race, although the Brit was yet to stop, and was running just a few seconds ahead of Buemi when the Swiss driver emerged.
But, there were dramas on the circuit for Bird, as he suffered an electrical failure while fending off Duval, leaving him to limp his car to a place safe enough for it to be pulled away from the circuit. Several reset attempts failed for the Brit meaning he was out of the race, with Senna joining him a few laps later with no energy left at his disposal. Once Bird's car was removed under waved yellow flags, the race continued with di Grassi slowly drawing in the leading car of Buemi.
The closing laps saw Vergne use his FanBoost to take Stéphane Sarrazin and enter the points, while di Grassi continued to pull himself into the wake of Buemi. Buemi, however, was not in the mood to be beaten, able to drag a second out of his Brazilian rival on one lap alone, before holding the gap at around two seconds. With those two in a stalemate for the lead, it was left to Vergne to provide the entertainment as he moved through the lower order of the points.
Onto the penultimate lap and Vergne's late charge had carried him up to ninth, just behind Nelson Piquet Jr., defending Champion. The Frenchman duly took the first opportunity he had to get by the Brazilian into the hairpin, only to be met with heavy resistance and a couple of taps after he ran wide. Later that lap, into the penultimate chicane, Piquet slid into the wall under braking, sending himself into a spin that also carried his car into the barrier on the inside of the chicane. The violent crash ripped three corners of his car off, while Vergne just avoided getting collected by the spinning NEXTEV TCR machine. Piquet emerged from his car unhurt, but disappointed after failing to secure his first points of the season.
Buemi, mwanwhile, was not to be beaten and duly took his fifth win in an ePrix, ahead of di Grassi, d'Ambrosio and Duval. Prost ended the race in a lonely fifth place, on da Costa within sight of the second e.Dams machine, while Abt's last minute energy saving saw him slip behind Vergne, who was not a fault for Piquet's accident. Sarrazin had a quiet race to end the day in ninth, while Robin Frijns denied team mate Simona de Silvestro her first points by taking tenth.
The final classification of the 2015 Punta del Este ePrix is displayed below, with the fastest lap setter indicated in italics, and the pole sitter shown in bold.
|2015 Punta del Este ePrix Race Result|
|Pos.||No.||Nat.||Name||Team||Laps||Race Time||Fastest lap||Pts.|
|1||9||Sébastien Buemi||Renault e.Dams||33||45:59.697||1:17.413||27|
|2||11||Lucas di Grassi||ABT Schaeffler Audi Sport||33||+3.534s||1:17.795||18|
|3||7||Jérôme d'Ambrosio||Dragon Racing||33||+6.725s||1:17.789||18|
|4||6||Loïc Duval||Dragon Racing||33||+6.807s||1:17.804||12|
|5||8||Nicolas Prost||Renault e.Dams||33||+21.057s||1:18.599||10|
|6||55||António Félix da Costa||Team Aguri||33||+22.410s||1:18.499||8|
|7||25||Jean-Eric Vergne||DS Virgin Racing||33||+57.726s||1:18.373||6|
|8||66||Daniel Abt||ABT Schaeffler Audi Sport||33||+1:00.744||1:18.809||4|
|10||27||Robin Frijns||Andretti Autosport||33||+1:03.840||1:18.710||1|
|11||28||Simona de Silvestro||Andretti Autosport||32||+1 lap||1:20.453|
|12||88||Oliver Turvey||NEXTEV TCR||32||+1 lap||1:19.675|
|13||23||Oliver Rowland||Mahindra Racing||32||+1 lap||1:19.760|
|14||77||Nathanaël Berthon||Team Aguri||32||+1 lap||1:19.036|
|15||1||Nelson Piquet Jr.||NEXTEV TCR||31||+2 laps||1:18.344|
|Ret||21||Bruno Senna||Mahindra Racing||26||Damage||1:19.932|
|Ret||2||Sam Bird||DS Virgin Racing||17||Electrical||1:19.623|
|DNS*||12||Jacques Villeneuve||Venturi||0||Did Not Start|
- * Villeneuve could not start the race as one of his cars was too badly damaged in qualifying.
Victory and fastest lap saw Sébastien Buemi sneak back into the lead of the Formula E Championship, ending the 2015 a point ahead of Lucas di Grassi. Jérôme d'Ambrosio's first pole and podium finish of the season saw the Belgian leap into the top three, with Sam Bird and Nick Heidfeld both displaced. Loïc Duval also managed to break into the top five, while Jean-Eric Vergne added his name to the point scorers list.
Renault e.Dams moved back to the summit of the Teams' Championship, building a two point lead over ABT Schaeffler Audi Sport. Dragon Racing moved into third, swapping places with Mahindra Racing after their dire weekend in Uruguay, with DS Virgin Racing remaining inbetween. Team Aguri leapt into sixth place, while the withdrawal of the Trulli Formula E Team meant all nine surviving teams had scored.
Only point scoring drivers and teams are shown.
Videos and Images:
- ↑ 1.0 1.1 'WMSC reveals dates for season two Formula E calendar', fiaformulae.com, (FIA Formula E, 10/07/2015),http://www.fiaformulae.com/en/news/2015/july/wmsc-reveals-dates-for-season-two-formula-e-calendar.aspx, (Accessed 10/07/2015)
- ↑ 2.00 2.01 2.02 2.03 2.04 2.05 2.06 2.07 2.08 2.09 2.10 2.11 2.12 2.13 2.14 2.15 'D’Ambrosio takes first Formula E pole', fiaformulae.com, (FIA Formula E, 19/12/2015), http://fiaformulae.com/en/news/2015/december/d-ambrosio-takes-first-formula-e-pole.aspx, (Accessed 21/12/2015)
- ↑ 3.0 3.1 3.2 3.3 3.4 3.5 'Buemi back on top', fiaformulae.com, (FIA Formula E, 19/12/2015), http://fiaformulae.com/en/news/2015/december/buemi-back-on-top.aspx, (Accessed 25/12/2015)
- ↑ 4.0 4.1 4.2 'Mexico City to host round five of 2015-2016 season', fiaformulae.com, (FIA Formula E, 19/11/2015),http://fiaformulae.com/en/news/2015/november/mexico-city-to-host-round-five-of-2015-2016-season.aspx, (Accessed 19/11/2015)
- ↑ 'Trulli Formula E Team announce withdrawal from championship', fiaformulae.com, (FIA Formula E, 15/12/2015), http://fiaformulae.com/en/news/2015/december/trulli-announcement.aspx, (Accessed 15/12/2015)
- ↑ 'Jaguar returns to global motor sport', fiaformulae.com, (FIA Formula E, 15/12/2015), http://fiaformulae.com/en/news/2015/december/jaguar-returns-to-racing.aspx, (Accessed 15/12/2015)
- ↑ 7.0 7.1 7.2 'Formula E & Kinetik announce driverless support series', fiaformulae.com, (FIA Formula E, 27/11/2015), http://fiaformulae.com/en/news/2015/november/formula-e-kinetik-announce-roborace-a-global-driverless-championship.aspx, (Accessed 28/11/2015)
- ↑ 8.0 8.1 'Oliver Rowland replaces injured Heidfeld', fiaformulae.com, (FIA Formula E, 04/12/2015), http://fiaformulae.com/en/news/2015/december/oliver-rowland-replaces-injured-heidfeld.aspx, (Accessed 04/12/2015)
- ↑ 'Punta del Este ePrix - Circuit guide', fiaformulae.com, (FIA Formula E, 09/12/2015), http://www.fiaformulae.com/en/news/2015/december/punta-del-este-eprix-track-guide.aspx, (Accessed 09/12/2015)
- ↑ 'FanBoost open for Punta del Este ePrix', fiaformulae.com, (FIA Formula E, 08/12/2015), http://fiaformulae.com/en/news/2015/december/fanboost-open-for-punta-del-este-eprix.aspx, (Accessed 08/12/2015)
- ↑ 11.00 11.01 11.02 11.03 11.04 11.05 11.06 11.07 11.08 11.09 11.10 11.11 11.12 'Julius Baer Punta del Este ePrix: Qualifying groups', fiaformulae.com, (FIA Formula E, 19/12/2015), http://fiaformulae.com/en/news/2015/december/julius-baer-punta-del-este-eprix-qualifying-groups.aspx, (Accessed 21/12/2015)
- ↑ 12.0 12.1 'Villeneuve to miss Punta race', fiaformulae.com, (FIA Formula E, 19/12/2015), http://fiaformulae.com/en/news/2015/december/villeneuve-to-miss-punta-del-este-eprix.aspx, (Accessed 20/12/2015)
- ↑ 13.00 13.01 13.02 13.03 13.04 13.05 13.06 13.07 13.08 13.09 13.10 13.11 13.12 13.13 13.14 13.15 13.16 13.17 13.18 13.19 13.20 13.21 13.22 13.23 13.24 13.25 13.26 'Extended Highlights: Punta del Este ePrix 2015', youtube.com, (YouTube: FIA Formula E, 24/12/2015), https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=wP5YWzAqEis, (Accessed 25/12/2015)