Nelson Piquet won the inaugural Long Beach ePrix for Next EV and China Racing in a race full of action and drama. He took the lead from Daniel Abt at the start and never looked back. It was the most dominant Formula E win since Sam Bird’s win in Malaysia, and it puts Piquet 2nd in the championship, just one point behind Lucas di Grassi. Jean-Eric Vergne and Lucas di Grassi joined him on the podium.
Piquet celebrating on the cool down lap.
There was drama before the race as pole sitter Sebastian Buemi was stripped of his pole lap for using too much power. He started 10th but recovered well to finish 4th and was not the only driver to receive such a penalty. Daniel Abt suffered the same fate as his car used over the allowed 150kW’s of energy in the closing laps, a penalty that caused him to finish out of the points after being in the top 3 for much of the race.
Onboard footage from a surprised Daniel Abt as Piquet takes the lead.
Turn 1 proved to be race defining for several drivers, with Piquet launching a late overtake on Daniel Abt to give himself the lead having started 3rd. There was bad news for championship contender Sam Bird who suffered wishbone damage, whilst Sebastian Buemi was able to move up to P8 after a strong start.
The first safety car was needed on lap 4 when hometown hero Scott Speed made a mistake into the turn 1 chicane. The safety car was immediately recalled after the restart as Charles Pic collided with Jarno Trulli at the hairpin. It was an over-ambitious move from Pic and one that will have frustrated Jarno Trulli. Speaking during the race, he claimed that he ‘had no idea what happened. We have just been so unlucky so far. It hasn’t been a good weekend’.
The moment Scott Speed hit the barriers.
Strategy played a key part in the final result, with Bruno Senna climbing up to 6th by running later than those around him. This pushed him up to 5th when Daniel Abt was given his penalty with just laps to go. It was Da Costa for Amlin Aguri who lost out during the pit stops; his pit stop was 8s slower than the minimum pit stop time of 82s.
The second half of the race was less action-packed than the early laps, with the only drama upfront coming from the battle for 3rd place. Nicolas Prost was able to set the fastest lap in the closing stages and take 2 points, but it was a strange race for the Frenchman, who hit Jerome D’Ambrosio at the hairpin.
The result clearly meant a lot to Nelson Piquet, and he was quick to refer to his father’s record at the famous racing circuit. ‘It was my Father’s first one and it’s my first one. I’m sure it will be the first of many’, he said as he crossed the line. ‘The start was amazing and allowed us to have a really consistent pace’.
The result was fantastic from a championship point of view, with Prost struggling in the race and both Buemi and Piquet getting themselves a big haul of points. The win will certainly reignite Nelson Piquet’s career and it now gives him a great opportunity to become the first ever Formula E World Champion.
Next stop, Monaco!
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Written by: Anil Parmar