Formula E recap: Paris
Formula E pulled off its quickest turnaround ever, after racing in Monaco just one week ago. Paris was — surprise! — dominated by Renault and Sebastien Buemi, but it was a good (if not thrilling) race throughout the field. Here’s a breakdown of who had the best and worst times in France’s capital:
Best day (teams)
Renault — After slipping a bit the last two races, Renault got both of its drivers back in the top 10 in the company’s home race. Sebastien Buemi took the win and Nico Prost came home 5th, which adds to the team’s lead in the manufacturers’ championship. Renault has two great drivers, but it also reportedly spends the most money on Formula E. Pretty winning strategy right there.
Mahindra — How do you follow one of your best races ever? Finish even better, of course. Mahindra is doing everything that team principal Dilbagh Gill has been talking about for the last few years: steady, but consistent, improvements. The Indian outfit had a great run in Monaco last week, and did even better this time around with Nick Heidfeld and Felix Rosenqvist finishing 3rd and 4th respectively. Simply fantastic.
Worst day (teams)
Audi/ABT — This looked like a potentially salvageable points race for Audi, with Daniel Abt comfortably in the top 10 near the end. But Abt’s car died right before the race finished. Add in Lucas di Grassi’s terrible day, and it was about as bad as it gets for Audi/ABT. They lose ground in the team championship race, and di Grassi does the same in the drivers’ hunt.
Techeetah — Halfway through the race, Jean-Eric Vergne was second and Esteban Gutiérrez was in the top 10. Techeetah was on the way to its best day ever. Then Vergne crashed. And then, as Gutiérrez was dropping back through the field, he was served a penalty. Tough day with no points for a team that has the speed to compete.
Faraday Future Dragon Racing — the capable Mike Conway was filling in for Loic Duval, but that wasn’t enough to help Faraday Dragon climb out of the gutter. The cars can be fast and the team has the right racing talent, it just can’t put all (or often, even some) the pieces together.
Best day (drivers)
Sebastien Buemi — A picture perfect day for Sebastien Buemi. He’s won 5 of 6 races this season, and has led 100 more laps than any other driver to boot. And that dominance was in full effect in Paris. The Formula E champion qualified on the pole and never looked back, all the while extending his lead in the race to repeat that trophy win in July.
José María López — Pechito, as he’s called, has looked strong in his first five Formula E races. But some rough luck ended two of those efforts early, and he had never cracked the top 5 — until today. López was near, but never too close, to a lot of chaos during the race. He was able to shimmy past those dangers on way to a stellar second place finish.
Robin Frijns — Frijns has has had some rough luck this year, too, after some really good results last season. But he qualified strong, and was able to work up to a 5th place running position in the race. Then, he got some good luck. He was able to dodge the full brunt of a 5-second penalty to cling to 6th place, marking his first return to the top 10 since the season opener in Hong Kong.
Worst day (drivers)
Lucas di Grassi — Arguably his worst day ever in Formula E. Di Grassi started near the back of the pack after an awful qualifying run, and only went backwards from his starting position of 13th. To make matters worse, he let frustration get the best of him. After a hard-fighting Antonio Felix da Costa got by him, di Grassi tried to return the favor with a pretty boneheaded move into turn 1. To add to it all, he wrecked one more time at the end of the race. He’s now 43 points behind Buemi after having closed to single digits two races ago.
Jean-Eric Vergne — Vergne was doing so well (he missed pole by .006!) until ending the day in the wall after an apparent mechanical failure. The wreck last week in Monaco was his own fault — he simply blew his cool. But Vergne was keeping it together in Paris before the wreck, and was on his way to a 2nd place finish. Instead, he wound up walking off the track for the second week in a row.
Daniel Abt — Abt, at one point, had made up 9 spots from his starting position. He was nearly fighting for a top 5 position when something went horribly wrong on the final lap. His car rolled to a stop, stranding him on the long straightaway as the rest of the field slid by.