Heartbreak for Vergne as Buemi wins #FormulaE classic in Uruguay

Sebastian Buemi took victory for e.Dams-Renault in a dramatic race in Uruguay which featured multiple safety cars and retirements. For much of the race it appeared that former F1 driver Jean-Eric Vergne, making his Formula E debut, could have taken the win but a retirement on the penultimate lap as he challenged the lead gave victory to Buemi. Lucas Di Grassi scored yet another podium, maintaining his lead at the top of the championship.

The start was fascinating, with those starting on the even side of the grid getting much better starts than others Nelson Piquet Jr made an incredible start, taking the lead from Vergne going into T1. This set us up for a ten lap battle between the pair, with Piquet holding on until lap 13 until he was caught by Vergne at the hairpin.

As in Malaysia, there were a couple of early retirements and safety cars. Daniel Abt retired early with a mechanical gremlin whilst Sam Bird retired on lap 4, hitting the wall on the exit of the fast turn 1 chicane. It was a disappointing weekend for Bird, who dominated in Malaysia but never had the speed this time out.

The first round of pit stops came on lap 16, triggered by Sarrazin’s Venturi car hitting the wall after being touched from the back by Brabham. There was to be more bad news for the other Venturi of Nick Heidfeld; he led the race after the pit stops but it emerged that he had broken the minimum pit stop time of 64 seconds, as well as using more power than is permitted through the regulations. A double penalty saw him tumble down the timesheets.

The final segment of the race involved several battles, including a fight up front between Jean-Eric Vergne and Sebastian Buemi. A late safety car, caused by a spin from Brabham, closed the pack up for a 2-lap sprint to the end. We were set for a grandstand finish, with Buemi struggling to keep the faster Vergne behind him. This battle led to Buemi controversially missing two chicanes in order to keep his lead from Vergne. The ex-Toro Rosso driver would not get another chance to fight for the lead however, as an electrical problem saw him retire as he prepared another attack. In many ways it was a huge anti-climax, but it was certainly dramatic and a reminder of how cruel motorsport can be. Motorsport rarely does fairy tales and Vergne’s miserable winter came to a depressing conclusion.

There were some great success stories further down the field though, with Jarno Trulli taking 4th place after mixed fortunes in the early rounds and Bruno Senna recovering to 6th after his first car suffered from mechanical damage. Of course, the biggest winner was Formula E as we were once again treated to a fantastic race, with lots of overtaking and drama. The circuit officials deserve a lot of credit too, with the circuit receiving rave reviews from the drivers and the fans.

Uruguay was also going to be a big test for Formula E, as it was the first race to take place at a suitable viewing time for those in Europe. If the sold out grandstands and reaction on social media is anything to go by, Formula E is no longer a series associated with the word ‘potential’, but a series associated with real racing. 2015 could be a pivotal year for the motor racing industry, and it has Formula E to thank for it.

Written by: Anil Parmar

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