|2016 Paris ePrix|
|Date||23rd April 2016|
|Official Name||Visa Formula E Paris ePrix|
|Location||Les Invalides, Paris, France|
|Lap length||1.93 km (1.99 mi)|
|Distance||45 laps / 86.85 km (53.97 mi)|
|Pole Sitter||Sam Bird|
|Team||DS Virgin Racing|
|Fastest Lap||1:02.323 on lap 39|
|Lucas di Grassi||Jean-Eric Vergne||Sébastien Buemi|
|Winner Team||ABT Schaeffler Audi Sport|
DS Virgin Racing had looked strong on one of the coldest race-days in Formula E's short history, with Sam Bird claiming pole and Jean-Eric Vergne starting third. Yet, the race would ultimately be won at the start, as Lucas di Grassi shot into the lead from second on the grid, remaining largely unchallenged, with Vergne claiming second and Sébastien Buemi third having had to fight up the field from eighth.
The first Paris ePrix was a mixture of calm and chaos at times, with the race eventually ending under a safety car after a heavy crash for débutante Ma Qing Hua. Bird made a mistake while defending from Buemi in the latter stages of the race and so dropped from third to sixth, although a skilful manoeuvre prevented him from damaging his car, while Loïc Duval and Nelson Piquet Jr. suffered mechanical failures.
Paris presented an intriguing addition to the Formula E calendar when it was announced, and a little over a month before the race the FIA announced that tickets for the Saturday race had sold out. The circuit itself skirts around the complex of buildings known as Les Invalides in the heart of Paris, with the pitlane situated in a park at the back of the Invalides. Fourteen corners featuring a mix of hairpin turns and sweeping curves would greet the field, with the pit entry/exit situated in the middle of turn twelve due to a lack of available space.
No major changes were made to the entry list until the 20th of April, just three days before the Paris ePrix, after Team Aguri announced that Ma Qing Hua would be replacing Salvador Duran for the remainder of the season. Ma, a Shanghai born driver, would make his début in Paris, using Aguri's #77 Spark-Renault SRT_01E, with the drive rumoured to be part of a larger deal between Team Aguri and Chinese Media Capital for investment in the team. António Félix da Costa's seat was expected to be secure regardless of whether the deal took place.
The Championship battle had taken an interesting course in Long Beach, where a poor weekend for Sébastien Buemi saw him lose the lead for the first time in 2016. Lucas di Grassi claimed a one point lead in the US after his victory in the Long Beach ePrix, with Buemi's only comfort coming in the form of two points for fastest lap. Sam Bird's roller-coaster of a weekend in California meant he was thirty points behind, with Jérôme d'Ambrosio completing the top four.
As a whole, Renault e.Dams had had a terrible weekend, surendering almost all of their lead in the Teams' Championship ahead of the Paris ePrix. ABT Schaeffler Audi Sport had claimed a double podium in America and so were just six points behind in second, having leapt ahead of Dragon Racing who held 112 points. DS Virgin Racing and Mahindra Racing were a fair distance back, while NEXTEV TCR remained at the foot of the table with just 14 points.
The full entry list for the 2016 Paris ePrix is displayed below:
Mid-day in Paris was greeted with a sky full of clouds, meaning track temperatures would be significantly colder in qualifying than they had been during practice, a potential problem for title contender Sébastien Buemi who had been struggling with tyre temps all morning. There would also be a slight change to the balance of the groups, with three groups of five and a final group of three, although each group would still only get six minutes to set one full power lap time, before the top five overall were siphoned off and put into the Super Pole shootout. The slowest of the top five would go out first, set the best possible time that they could on an empty circuit, with the fourth quickest car from the groups coming out at the end of the former's lap. Once all five had set a shootout time, the grid for the Paris ePrix would be complete, bar any post-qualifying penalties.
The first group of the day would feature five cars, headlined by Buemi in his struggling Renault e.Dams machine. Venturi would field their two drivers, Stéphane Sarrazin and Mike Conway, in the opening group of the day as they hoped to beat customer team Dragon Racing in the battle of the Venturi VM200-FE-1s. Loïc Duval would be on circuit for Dragon to keep the pressure on the two Venturi drivers, with Nick Heidfeld also out for Mahindra.
Buemi went out first in group one, a move that would prove fortunate given events later in the session, although his pace was not particularly strong, over a second off his fastest lap from free practice. Moments after Buemi flashed across the finish line to complete his lap, Heidfeld was charging into the penultimate corner before hitting a bump a sliding into the outside wall. Believing his car to be in a dangerous position, Heidfeld began to pull away from the barrier only to move straight into the path of Mike Conway, who had been on course to set the best time of the group. The collision between the two caused heavy front-end damage to the two cars and brought out the red flag. With only two minutes left in the session, the officials opted to extend the remaining time to three minutes, although Heidfeld and Buemi were not allowed back out. Conway would not make it back out because of a charging problem, while Duval and Sarrazin went out and ended up either side of Buemi's time with Sarrazin besting the Swiss driver by over half a second.
Quintet number two would feature the two ABT Schaeffler Audi Sport machines of Championship leader Lucas di Grassi and Daniel Abt, with the team hoping to take advantage of the lower temperatures that were hampering rivals e.Dams. Jean-Eric Vergne would be another driver to watch, the DS Virgin Racing machines having been strong in practice, while defending Champion Nelson Piquet Jr. would hope that his NEXTEV TCR machine could push into the top ten. Robin Frijns would also be out for Andretti Autosport, as they battled with Team Aguri to be the best of the Spark-Renault SRT_01E running teams.
A comparatively uneventful group two saw Vergne set the best time of the group, besting Sarrazin by almost four tenths to go fastest overall. Di Grassi just fell short of Sarrazin's time to go third, while Frijns put his Andretti machine ahead of Buemi to leave the latter on the verge of missing out on Super Pole very early in the day. Piquet produced a surprise to beat Abt as they rounded out the group, ahead of Duval and the damaged duo of Heidfeld and Conway.
The final group of five would hit the circuit in group three, Nicolas Prost appearing to be the strongest of the five after practice in his e.Dams. Oliver Turvey would also be on circuit, looking to build on an impressive set of practice times for NEXTEV, while Jérôme d'Ambrosio would be hoping for a reversal in his fortunes from earlier in the day. Bruno Senna and Simona de Silvestro would complete their team's commitments for the day, and both had ambitions of breaking into the top ten.
Prost ended up as the quickest from group three, although his time would only be good enough for fourth overall, leaving him on the verge of missing out on the Super Pole. Turvey, meanwhile, produced a scintilating lap to take sixth away from Buemi, while the rest of the group seemed to struggle with a general lack of grip. d'Ambrosio ended up third fastest in the group after a huge lock up on his full power lap, with de Silvestro sliding her way through the final sector to end up a fraction of a second behind him. Senna rounded out the group just off of de Silvestro's pace.
Due to the way in which the draw had been done, group four would only feature three cars, with Team Aguri newcomer Ma Qing Hua getting his first taste of qualifying in a Formula E machine. His team mate António Félix da Costa would also be on circuit, his pace in practice suggesting he could be an outside contender for the Super Pole. Completing the group would be Sam Bird who came into qualifying among the favourites for pole position for the second race in a row.
Another stunning lap in the DS Virgin Racing machine saw Bird set the fastest time of the session and qualify for the Super Pole, beating team mate Verge by a quarter of a session. A mistake for da Costa through the middle sector meant he finished the day tenth overall, while Ma's debut venture in qualifying ended with his Aguri machine sliding across the finish line to take fifteenth. Bird, Vergne, di Grassi, Sarrazin and Prost were confirmed as going through to the shootout as the dust settled on the group phase.
Prost was out first in the Super Pole shootout having been the slowest of the top five, but a clean and largely uneventful lap would result in him staying in fifth place. Out next was di Grassi, and a stunning lap put the Brazilian on provisional pole despite a large lock up into turn four. Sarrazin would go out next to split di Grassi and Prost, before the two DS Virgin machines hit the circuit, their over-weight machines just giving them an edge in building tyre temperatures as Vergne hit the circuit.
Vergne put all his effort into warming his tyres, but his pace was not the best in the first two sectors, leaving him almost three tenths off of di Grassi. Yet, a sublime final sector saw him flash across the line just half a tenth off of the Brazilian, leaving Vergne as the best of the Frenchmen in Paris. Then it was Bird's turn, and a small mistake during the Brit's opening sector left him trailing di Grassi by more than a tenth. Yet, Bird had been quickest in the second sector during the group, and it was a stunning time through the middle part of the lap saw him a quarter of a second up on the Brazilian, a gap which only grew when the Brit slithered through the final corner to take his third pole in Formula E, and his second on the bounce.
The final qualifying result for the 2016 Paris ePrix is outlined below:
|2016 Paris ePrix Qualifying Result|
|1||2||Sam Bird||DS Virgin Racing||1:01.616||—||1|
|2||11||Lucas di Grassi||ABT Schaeffler Audi Sport||1:01.932||+0.316s||2|
|3||25||Jean-Eric Vergne||DS Virgin Racing||1:01.993||+0.377s||3|
|5||8||Nicolas Prost||Renault e.Dams||1:02.709||+1.093s||5|
|6||27||Robin Frijns||Andretti Autosport||1:02.405||—||6|
|7||88||Oliver Turvey||NEXTEV TCR||1:02.492||+0.087s||7|
|8||9||Sébastien Buemi||Renault e.Dams||1:02.661||+0.256s||8|
|9||1||Nelson Piquet Jr.||NEXTEV TCR||1:02.685||+0.280s||9|
|10||55||António Félix da Costa||Team Aguri||1:02.747||+0.342s||10|
|11||7||Jérôme d'Ambrosio||Dragon Racing||1:02.797||+0.392s||11|
|12||28||Simona de Silvestro||Andretti Autosport||1:02.888||+0.483s||12|
|13||21||Bruno Senna||Mahindra Racing||1:02.915||+0.510s||13|
|14||66||Daniel Abt||ABT Schaeffler Audi Sport||1:03.081||+0.676s||14|
|15||77||Ma Qing Hua||Team Aguri||1:03.655||+1.250s||15|
|16||6||Loïc Duval||Dragon Racing||1:03.787||+1.382s||16|
|NC*||23||Nick Heidfeld||Mahindra Racing||No Time||18|
- * Heidfeld failed to set a time within 107% of the fastest time, but was allowed to start at the steward's discretion.
Temperatures still remained on the low side in Paris as race time approached, with a heavy layer of clouds blanketing the circuit although rain was not expected. Interest would be in some of the strugglers from qualifying, with Mike Conway receiving a fair amount of attention after his impressive pace in practice. Buemi was also one to look out for, as he looked set to lose ground to Lucas di Grassi in the Championship unless he had a stunning race from eighth.
Off the line it was advantage di Grassi, as pole sitter Sam Bird got enough wheel spin to hamper his start and allow the Brazilian to take the inside line into turn one. Bird's team mate Jean-Eric Vergne also managed to launch his car up the inside of the Brit into the first corner, before squeezing his fellow DS Virgin Racing racer onto the curb at turn two, sweeping into second. Further down, the combination of cold tyres and tight first corner was expected to cause trouble, but all eighteen cars made it through the first corner and on to complete the first lap of forty-five.
The early laps were remarkable for di Grassi, who immediately sprinted away from Vergne and Bird to build a three second lead before the end of the second lap. Buemi, meanwhile, was losing time after being stuck behind Oliver Turvey, who was enjoying his best run in the NEXTEV TCR machine in sixth, as Nicolas Prost attacked Stéphane Sarrazin. A lunge from Prost saw him put his Renault e.Dams car into fourth early on lap three, while Bird began to attack Vergne for second. Behind the Turvey and Buemi were António Félix da Costa and Robin Frijns, who had bypassed Nelson Piquet Jr. at the start to sit on the back of the Anglo-Swiss battle.
Indeed it would be that quartet serving up all of the on track action in the first quarter of the race, as Loïc Duval suffered a drive issue that left him stuck just a few metres from the pit entrance. A Full Course Yellow was thrown as marshals went to drag the Dragon off the circuit, although it was only a couple of minutes before the track went green again. Back in action, a feint by Buemi saw Turvey defend heavily into the first corner, causing Buemi to be backed into da Costa, forcing the Portuguese driver to take a marginally wider line through the corner that compromised his run through the next sequence of corners. Through the sweeping braking zone into turn six Frijns popped out from the underneath of da Costa's rear wing a slung his car down the inside of the Aguri driver, snatching eighth place with a confident move.
The other Aguri machine was also attracting interest, Ma Qing Hua launching an attack on Conway into turn one to claim sixteenth, before pulling a similar move to claim fifteenth from Simona de Silvestro a few laps later. Back with the Turvey quartet and Buemi had got a good exit from turn seven on lap nine, drawing straight up to the back of the grey and turquoise car before pulling to the inside of the circuit. Relative speeds meant the e.Dams machine pulled cleanly alongside and ahead of the NEXTEV TCR car before the end of the back straight. Frijns and da Costa remained locked together, until the Dutchman followed Buemi past Turvey moments later. The Portuguese driver also went for the Brit, but a robust defence put da Costa on the inside curb of turn two, leaving him stuck behind the Brit for a couple of laps before a dive into turn one saw him safely by.
Piquet Jr. hit trouble and fell to the back of the field with a power issue, meaning he swapped to his second car a few laps early. The circuit was rather quiet as the stops approached during the second quarter of the race, although the lap immediately before saw action hot up at both the front and the back of the field. At the back, it was Nick Heidfeld who launched an ambitious move on de Silvestro to attract attention, diving up the inside of the Swiss racer into turn one, as the two DS Virgin cars were getting uncomfortably close for the team. Vergne and Bird had run nose to tail throughout the first half of the race, and it was Bird who looked the quicker just a couple of laps from the stops, prompting him to launch his attack before the drivers swapped to their second cars.
A strong run through turn three saw Bird carry enough pace to pull alongside Vergne, forcing him to take a defensive line into turn five. Just behind Prost and Buemi swapped places, the latter having dispatched of Sarrazin a few laps earlier, and were quickly on the back of the squabbling Virgins. A lap later and Bird tried to squeeze up the inside of Vergne through turn four, almost pulling the move off but for turn five which allowed Vergne to hold the position, with a brief touch between them. It also allowed the two e.Dams machine to pull right up behind them, while Frijns took Sarrazin as they also joined the growing brawl ahead, with all six heading into the pitlane at the end of that lap.
After the stops di Grassi held a seven second lead, while Vergne and Bird pulled away from the two e.Dams machines, their heavier cars meaning they could heat their tyres quicker in the cool conditions. There would be a general stalemate through the field, although da Costa and Frijns were together again and attracted alot of attention. The race was slowly drawing to a conclusion, di Grassi managing to stretch his lead while Bird, with Buemi in his wake, managed to draw in Vergne.
With six laps to go Bird tried to launch an attack into turn eight, but Vergne was swift in his defence and blocked the move. That allowed Buemi to close right onto the Brit's tail, emphasised when Bird got slightly out of shape through the long turn twelve, compromising his run through turns thirteen and fourteen and onto the back straight. Buemi got a good run and Bird moved to cover a dive down the inside of turn one, only to brake too late and lock his front right wheel, forcing him down the escape road. Quick and skilful reactions saw Bird throw his car into a space defying spin, rejoining the race without a mark on his car, although his pride may have been wounded as be dropped behind Buemi, Prost and Sarrazin.
At the back, meanwhile, the adventures of Ma Qing Hua came to an end, the Chinese driver over correcting a slide through turn fourteen and smacking into the concrete wall on the exit. The heavy contact smashed the left side of his Team Aguri machine and brought out the safety car, with Ma climbing out of the car uninjured. Unfortunately the Spark-Renault SRT_01E was in a difficult place to remove, and the last five laps of the race would be conducted under the safety car, meaning di Grassi claimed a largely unchallenged victory for the second race in a row, with Vergne claiming second at (quite literally) his home race, with Buemi completing the podium.
The final classification of the 2016 Paris ePrix is displayed below, with the fastest lap setter indicated in italics, and the pole sitter shown in bold.
|2016 Paris ePrix Race Result|
|Pos.||No.||Nat.||Name||Team||Laps||Race Time||Fastest lap||Pts.|
|1||11||Lucas di Grassi||ABT Schaeffler Audi Sport||45||52:40.324||1:02.911||25|
|2||25||Jean-Eric Vergne||DS Virgin Racing||45||+0.853s||1:02.939||18|
|3||9||Sébastien Buemi||Renault e.Dams||45||+1.616s||1:02.453||15|
|4||8||Nicolas Prost||Renault e.Dams||45||+2.142s||1:02.905||12|
|6||2||Sam Bird||DS Virgin Racing||45||+3.856s||1:03.040||11|
|7||27||Robin Frijns||Andretti Autosport||45||+5.141s||1:03.026||6|
|8||55||António Félix da Costa||Team Aguri||45||+7.000s||1:02.967||4|
|9||21||Bruno Senna||Mahindra Racing||45||+8.433s||1:03.018||2|
|10||66||Daniel Abt||ABT Schaeffler Audi Sport||45||+9.479s||1:02.851||1|
|11||7||Jérôme d'Ambrosio||Dragon Racing||45||+10.738s||1:03.608|
|12||23||Nick Heidfeld||Mahindra Racing||45||+12.453s||1:02.323||2|
|13||88||Oliver Turvey||NEXTEV TCR||45||+13.721s||1:03.908|
|15||28||Simona de Silvestro||Andretti Autosport||45||+16.049s||1:03.583|
|Ret||1||Nelson Piquet Jr.||NEXTEV TCR||39||Out of Energy||1:02.731|
|Ret||77||Ma Qing Hua||Team Aguri||38||Accident||1:04.471|
|Ret||6||Loïc Duval||Dragon Racing||4||Gearbox||1:05.174|
Lucas di Grassi's second win on the bounce meant he extended his lead over Sébastien Buemi to eleven points, the Swiss driver once again left to bemoan his poor form in qualifying once again costing him points. The gap would have been down to nine points but for Nick Heidfeld stealing the two points for fastest lap just before the safety car period, although the threat from behind was now severely diminished. Sam Bird's late spin meant he dropped even further behind, requiring a strong finish to the season to stand any chance of the title, with Jérôme d'Ambrosio remaining in fourth.
Despite it looking like a poor weekend for Renault e.Dams in qualifying, third and fourth in the race saw them manage to enhance their lead in the Teams' Championship. DS Virgin Racing also made gains, drawing within six points of Dragon Racing who failed to score for the first time all season. Mahindra Racing remained in fifth, although were coming under more pressure from Venturi, with Andretti Autosport, Team Aguri and NEXTEV TCR rounding out the table.
Only point scoring drivers and teams are shown.
Videos and Images:
- ↑ '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)
- ↑ 2.0 2.1 'Paris, France', fiaformulae.com, (FIA Formula E, 2016), http://fiaformulae.com/en/calendar/2016-paris.aspx, (Accessed 20/03/2016)
- ↑ 3.00 3.01 3.02 3.03 3.04 3.05 3.06 3.07 3.08 3.09 3.10 3.11 3.12 3.13 3.14 3.15 3.16 3.17 3.18 3.19 3.20 3.21 3.22 3.23 'Bird gives DS home pole', fiaformulae.com, (FIA Formula E, 23/04/2016), http://fiaformulae.com/en/news/2016/april/bird-gives-ds-home-pole/, (Accessed 23/04/2016)
- ↑ 4.00 4.01 4.02 4.03 4.04 4.05 4.06 4.07 4.08 4.09 4.10 4.11 4.12 4.13 4.14 'Di Grassi triumphant in Paris', fiaformulae.com, (FIA Formula E, 23/04/2016), http://fiaformulae.com/en/news/2016/april/di-grassi-wins-visa-paris-eprix/, (Accessed 23/04/2016)
- ↑ 'Visa Paris ePrix tickets sold out', fiaformulae.com, (FIA Formula E, 16/03/2016), http://fiaformulae.com/en/news/2016/march/visa-paris-eprix-tickets-sold-out.aspx, (Accessed 20/03/2016)
- ↑ 'Paris to welcome Formula E in 2016', fiaformulae.com, (FIA Formula E, 10/07/2015), http://fiaformulae.com/en/news/2015/july/paris-to-welcome-formula-e-in-2016.aspx, (Accessed 20/03/2016)
- ↑ 'Ma Qing Hua replaces Salvador Duran at Team Aguri', fiaformulae.com, (FIA Formula E, 20/04/2016), http://fiaformulae.com/en/news/2016/april/ma-qing-hua-replaces-salvador-duran-at-team-aguri/, (Accessed 20/04/2016)
- ↑ Sam Smith, 'Exclusive: Team Aguri in talks for Chinese takeover', motorsport.com, (Motorsport Network, 20/04/2016), http://www.motorsport.com/formula-e/news/exclusive-team-aguri-in-talks-for-chinese-takeover-688722/, (Accessed 20/04/2016)
- ↑ 'FanBoost open for Visa Paris ePrix', fiaformulae.com, (FIA Formula E, 11/04/2016), http://fiaformulae.com/en/news/2016/april/fanboost-open-for-visa-paris-eprix/, (Accessed 12/04/2016)
- ↑ 10.00 10.01 10.02 10.03 10.04 10.05 10.06 10.07 10.08 10.09 10.10 10.11 10.12 10.13 10.14 'Visa Paris ePrix: Qualifying groups', fiaformulae.com, (FIA Formula E, 23/04/2016), http://fiaformulae.com/en/news/2016/april/visa-paris-eprix-qualifying-groups/, (Accessed 23/04/2016)
- ↑ 11.0 11.1 'VISA PARIS ePRIX: Qualifying Results', fia-fe.com, (FIA Formula E, 23/04/2016), http://fia-fe.com/en/all-results/season-2/paris-eprix.aspx, (Accessed 23/04/2016)
- ↑ 12.00 12.01 12.02 12.03 12.04 12.05 12.06 12.07 12.08 12.09 12.10 12.11 12.12 12.13 12.14 12.15 12.16 12.17 12.18 12.19 12.20 12.21 12.22 'Mistakes & Overtakes: Paris 2016 Race Highlights - Formula E', fiaformulae.com, (FIA Formula E, 23/04/2016), https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=mH1TlTqaaII, (Accessed 23/04/2016)
- ↑ 'VISA PARIS ePRIX: Race Results', fia-fe.com, (FIA Formula E, 24/04/2016), http://fia-fe.com/en/all-results/season-2/paris-eprix.aspx, (Accessed 24/04/2016)