The first race of the all-electric series’ season two is well behind us now and we’re going to look up and down the field to see which drivers have the upper hand over their team-mate!
Mixed fortunes for the Renault-backed squad saw one driver scamper off into the distance, and the other retire from the race with damage to the rear wing. The team topped all but one session on Saturday with Buemi dominating in China.
The Swiss ex-Le Mans champion was quick out the box setting a laptime that was half a second faster than his teammates’ in the first practice session. Prost got the measure of his teammate in practice 2, but in qualifying, Buemi stormed to pole setting faster laps in the qualifying session and the super-pole. Buemi also set the fastest lap during the race bagging the bonus points.
If it wasn’t for wheel spin at the start allowing a feisty Nick Heidfeld to nab second place, and the bizarre rear wing failure on Nico Prosts’ car then it would’ve surely been a Renault eDams 1-2. But we’ll never know, and as the old adage goes; ‘to finish first, first you have to finish’.
Buemi 1 – 0 Prost
The Dragon Racing boys gave us some stellar on-track entertainment briefly touching as D’Ambrosio stuck one up the inside of Duval in the second phase of the race, but couldn’t make the move stick. They were equally looking threatening towards the end of the race as the team raced tactically to get into an attacking position on Heidfeld’s Mahindra.
Two tenths separated the drivers in qualifying as first blood went to Duval. In the race, it remained equally as close with the Dragon pair racing close right up to the pitstop window. It’s a battle that looks to be fascinating as the season progresses. The car looks quick and efficient with nothing to separate the pair in terms of speed.
Duval 1 – 0 D’Ambrosio
ABT Schaeffler Audi Sport:
Daniel Abt never had the measure of this teammate all weekend and in a cruel twist of luck, was relegated from a points paying position to 11th after an unsafe release during his pitstop. The young German needs to find some speed as in qualifying he was some eight tenths slower than his Brazilian teammate.
Di Grassi had a quiet day up front tucking in behind the Mahindra of Nick Heidfeld at the start. With Prosts’ early lockup and Heidfelds’ slow pitstop, Di Grassi managed to find himself into second place. He was unable to make any headway on Buemi’s lead, but held his own to bag an all import podium position.
Di Grassi 1 – 0 Abt
The reigning champions’ title defence hasn’t started with the vigour that he would’ve wanted. His teammate was fast in his debut at London and had a phenomenal drive in Beijing to out-qualify and out-race his more experienced teammate. There’s plenty of time for the team to develop and gains made early on in the season will help their drivers mount a challenge if and when the team becomes competitive.
Both drivers pitted late, but it was Turvey who ran well in the mid-field on the second phase of the race. Piquet’s stuttering stop on track compounded a poor weekend in total; it can come as some consolation that Piquet’s fastest race lap was almost a second faster than Turvey’s.
Turvey 1 – 0 Piquet
DS Virgin Racing:
Virgin Racing needs to work on the power consumption as both cars were marginal towards the pit window; they were aided by two full course yellow periods too. One of the more competitive driver pairings on the gird, the DS Virgin Racing boys were both battling in the mid pack.
Vergne trumped Bird in qualifying making it through to the super-pole shootout but locked up into the first corner and ruined his lap. He was still ahead of Bird though, but Vergne was unable to manage his power well and dropped back. Sam Bird kept it steady and made small gains finishing just behind fellow countryman Oliver Turvey in seventh. Importantly, Bird’s fastest laptime was over half a second faster than Vergne.
Bird 1 – 0 Vergne
Team Aguri were late with their driver line-up announcement but hardly picked a surprising or shocking pairing. Da Costa’s performance didn’t help him make any new friends on the grid after nudging the back of Simona de Silvestro’s Andretti and tangling with Jacques Villeneuve’s Venturi.
Arguably the best performance by a Formula E rookie in Beijing was Nathanael Berthon who dragged his McLaren powered Aguri up to a points paying position from P17 on the grid. He qualified behind his more experienced, race winning teammate by just one tenth. Da Costa didn’t finish the race due to accident damage, but Berthon’s eighth place was a great start for the Aguri squad.
Berthon 1 – 0 Da Costa
The Indian squad scored their first ever podium in Beijing as Nick Heidfeld got an electric start to leapfrog Nico Prost off the line. Regardless of a slow pitstop Heidfeld managed to keep in front of the charging Dragon cars right up to the last lap.
There wasn’t a lot to separate the Mahindra drivers. In qualifying Senna was just twos tenths slower than Heidfeld’s initial qualifying lap; however the German’s super-pole lap was a further two tenths faster.
Senna also had a slow stop and couldn’t recover the time with his fastest time just fourth tenths slower than his teammates’. There doesn’t seem to be a lot separating these two, and at this early stage, there is still plenty of time for the Brazilian to recover.
Heidfeld 1 – 0 Senna
The Venturi team were, by all accounts, trounced by their customer team Dragon Racing. The team fields the most experienced pairing on the grid, even though Villeneuve is a Formula E rookie.
Sarrazin set a lap that was a whole second faster than Villeneuve’s time in qualifying, but Sarrazin also out-raced the 1997 World Champion before his accident. Villeneuve did actually set a lap that was two tenths faster, but with the accident damage we’ll never really know where Villeneuve couldn’t finished.
Sarrazin 1 – 0 Villeneuve
Trulli didn’t participate in the Beijing ePrix due to their inverters being held at Chinese customs; therefore their drivers get no points.
Duran 0 – 0 Luizzi