2017 Buenos Aires ePrix

Practice and qualifying

Two practice sessions—both on Saturday morning—were held before the Saturday late afternoon race. The first session ran for 45 minutes and the second lasted 30 minutes.A 30-minute shakedown session was held on Friday afternoon before the practice sessions and saw António Félix da Costa record the fastest time of one minute and 18.1 seconds, ahead of Rosenqvist and Heidfeld in second and third. Both practice sessions took place in dry weather conditions. José María López used the full 200 kilowatts (270 hp) of power available to him and set the first session’s fastest lap at one minute and 9.431 seconds, 0.628 seconds faster than Jean-Éric Vergne in second. Mitch Evans was third-fastest, ahead of Buemi and Bird. Rosenqvist, Prost, di Grassi, Turvey and Nelson Piquet Jr. rounded out the session’s top ten fastest drivers. The session was twice stopped when Félix da Costa lost control of his car’s back-end and hit the turn six barrier. Félix da Costa’s damaged car was transported to his garage for repairs and the driver switched into his second vehicle. He later stopped on track which ended the session early.

In the second practice session, Bird was quickest with a lap of one minute and 8.792 seconds, ahead of Rosenqvist in second and di Grassi third. Buemi was fourth-fastest; Robin Frijns was fifth and Piquet sixth. Turvey was seventh-fastest, Vergne eighth, Prost ninth and Maro Engel completed the top ten ahead of qualifying. Turvey impacted the chicane’s barrier with Adam Carroll and Bird spinning their cars in the fifth turn. Loïc Duval’s left-front tyre lost a wheel nut, causing it to become detached and the session was red flagged. As a result of the red flag to retrieve Duval’s tire and the two stoppages seen in the first practice session, the second 45-minute practice period was extended by five minutes. Shortly after the session restarted, Engel stopped at the turn one exit with car problems but a second red flag was not required because he was off the track. Di Grassi pushed hard and went into the turn four wall, damaging the front-right section and rear-end of his car, with yellow flags waved to warn drivers about the incident.

Lucas di Grassi had the first pole position of his Formula E career.

Saturday afternoon’s qualifying session ran for 60 minutes and was divided into four groups of five cars. Each group was determined by a lottery system and was permitted six minutes of on-track activity. All drivers were limited to two timed laps with one at maximum power. The fastest five overall competitors in the four groups participated in a “Super Pole” session with one driver on the track at any time going out in reverse order. Each of the five drivers was limited to one timed lap; the starting order was determined by the participants’ fastest times. The driver and team who recorded the fastest time were awarded three points towards their respective championships.The session was held in warm and dry weather conditions.

In the first group of five runners, Evans paced the session, three-tenths of a second faster than Bird in second, and Frijns third. Evans’ teammate Carroll and Engel (who stopped twice on track because of technical issues) were the group’s two slowest drivers. Bird cited difficulty in gaining optium tyre temperature for his performance. Vergne used clear air and was the fastest driver in the second group with a late lap time that was two-tenths of a second faster than Buemi. Di Grassi, Piquet and Jérôme d’Ambrosio rounded out the top five. The third qualifying beginning was delayed when Vergne and Piquet were placed under investigation by the stewards for an irregularity.Félix da Costa stopped his car on the racing line at the turn one exit and the yellow flag was shown until the driver performed a restart, enabling him to keep driving. Rosenqvist was the fastest driver in the third group, with Stéphane Sarrazin and Duval finishing behind the Mahindra driver. López pushed hard and oversteered through the seventh turn, impacting the barrier, and damaging the rear-right corner of his vehicle. He stopped further down the track and the session was temporarily stopped. Félix da Costa was granted permission by race control to complete his timed lap but damaged his front-right suspension in an impact with the chicane’s inside barrier. Both López and Félix da Costa started the race from the grid’s ninth (and penultimate) row.

In the fourth (and final) group, Turvey was the fastest driver, more than one second quicker than teammate Piquet. Prost was third-fastest, and was the group’s fastest driver until Turvey’s lap. Daniel Abt and Ma Qinghua both collided with the turn four exit barrier, ending their qualifying session early. After group qualifying ended, Turvey, Piquet, di Grassi, Vergne and Buemi were the five drivers who earned progression into the super pole round after recording fast enough lap times.The start of the super pole session was delayed to cater for the removal of a bollard at the chicane. Piquet was the first driver to attempt his lap in the super pole round and lost half a second because he locked his front tyres and struggled with the rear balance of his car and was restricted to qualifying fifth.Turvey had a lack of grip through the seventh turn, causing him to lock his tyres and missed the following turn’s apex and took fourth position. Despite going slower than Turvey in the track’s first sector, Di Grassi drove cleanly through turn seven to record a provisional pole position lap time of one minute and 9.404 seconds.Buemi started his lap cleanly but lost half a second in the track’s first sector by locking his tyres which placed him off the racing line and took third. Vergne was the fastest driver in the first sector but heavily locked his tyres which meant he qualified in second place.The result meant di Grassi secured his first pole position in Formula E.

Race

A special feature of Formula E is the “Fan Boost” feature, an additional 100 kilowatts (130 hp) of power to use in the driver’s second car. The three drivers, who were allowed to use the boost, were determined by a fan vote. For the Buenos Aires race, Buemi, di Grassi and Abt were handed the extra power. Weather conditions at the start of the race were dry and sunny with an air temperature ranging from 29.0–29.7 °C (84.2–85.5 °F) and a track temperature of 26 °C (79 °F); a 90 percent of change of rain was forecast before the event. 21,000 people attended the race. The race began at 16:00 Argentina Time  When the race started, di Grassi maintained his pole position advantage heading into the first turn. Vergne fended off an attempt by Buemi to keep second place. Rosenqvist made a fast getaway and overtook Evans and Prost and challenged Piquet for fifth position.The full course yellow was necessitated when Carroll was unable to move off his starting position but was able to restart his car as the field approached to lap him, and was ordered by his team to catch up to all the drivers but was required to abide by the full course yellow speed limit.At the end of the first lap, di Grassi led from Vergne, Buemi, Turvey, Piquet, Rosenqvist, Prost, d’Ambrosio, Bird, Evans, Sarrazin, Heidfeld, Duval, Frijns, Abt, Félix da Costa, López, Engel, Ma and Carroll.

The race restarted on lap two with di Grassi in the lead and Vergne second. Evans overtook d’Ambrosio to move into eighth place, while Vergne began challenging di Grassi for the lead.Vergne passed di Grassi at turn four on the third lap to claim the lead and di Grassi immediately battled Buemi for second position.  Buemi overtook di Grassi for second place three corners later, while Vergne set the fastest lap of the race so far—at one minute and 12.926 seconds—to pull away from Buemi. After sustaining damage to his vehicle’s rear-right suspension, Bird fell to the rear of the field. Piquet went off the racing line and lost fifth position to Prost. Buemi got a fast exit through the final corner and drafted off Vergne before turning left onto the inside line and passed him by braking late to take the lead at the first corner on lap six. Buemi took a wide line to prevent Vergne from retaking the position going into turn two. Di Grassi struggled with his car’s handling and Turvey moved in front of him for third place and Prost closed the gap to the Brazilian driver. Buemi pulled away from the rest of the field. Bird made a pit stop with the damage to his car and switched into his second vehicle, intending to recording the event’s fastest lap time but he would not be able to finish the race.

Sébastien Buemi took the ninth victory of his career and was the first driver to win three consecutive races in Formula E history.

Engel stopped on the track with powertrain issues, but after the Venturi driver restarted, he was shown a black flag with an orange circle, requiring him to enter the pit lane to repair car damage. Prost overtook di Grassi around the inside at turn four to claim fourth position on lap 12, and Piquet reduced the time deficit to the Audi Sport ABT driver. López forced Sarrazin wide through the fourth turn to take over 18th position on the following lap. Buemi held a 4.5 second advantage over Vergne with Turvey, Prost and di Grassi in close attendance for the third place battle. The mandatory pit stops, during which all drivers need to change into a second car, began on lap 18 when Turvey, Evans and Duval entered the pit lane. Evans was issued with a five-second time penalty after he was observed to exceeded the speed limit under full course yellow conditions. The majority of the field followed one lap later and after the pit stops Buemi was in third place. Di Grassi was released into the path of Piquet, causing the driver to brake in order to avoid colliding with the Audi Sport ABT driver. Engel lost engine power at his pit stop, triggering his retirement from the race.Mahindra elected to keep their drivers Rosenqvist and Heideld on the track for one further lap which would allow the two drivers to push in the event’s closing stages because of them having additional electrical energy available to them.

Rosenqvist’s car failed to start because of a battery management system problem which left him stationary in his garage for one minute longer than usual, and rejoined the circuit in 17th place. Di Grassi closed the gap to Prost, and took advantage of a mistake by the e.Dams driver leaving the final turn, and overtook him by braking late around the inside going into the first turn for third on lap 24. Félix da Costa started to challenge López for 14th place while the Portuguese driver’s teammate Frijns battled Abt for tenth position because the latter was holding up several cars but later used his Fan Boost system to pull away. Heidfeld overtook Sarrazin and Frijins to run in 11th but was placed under investigation by the stewards and was later issued with a five-second time penalty after he was judged to exceed the minimum pit stop time by four-tenths of a second and fell to 15th. Di Grassi pushed hard in an effort to close up to Vergne but the French driver reacted by stablising the time deficit to be two seconds in front.  Buemi activated his Fan Boost system to increase his advantage over Vergne, while Rosenqvist set the race’s fastest lap (and overall track record) at one minute and 9.467 seconds on lap 31, earning him one championship point. Lopez gained three positions to run in eleventh by lap 35 and the stewards announced that di Grassi was under investigation for his pit stop release on the same lap.

Both Dragon drivers were informed on their radios that they had to ensure that both cars reached the finish of the race while Duval was told that d’Ambrosio had more electrical energy to use. Duval reduced the time deficit to teammate d’Ambrosio and attempted an overtaking manoeuvre on the Belgian driver for sixth place, causing light contact between the two cars and got ahead of his teammate. Turvey lost eighth position when he was overtaken by Abt. On the final lap, Bird was forced wide into the wall by d’Ambrosio, causing him to retire.Despite braking difficulties on his second car which rendered him unable to brake in a straight line, Buemi crossed the finish line after 37 laps to win the race. Vergne finished second, 2.9 seconds behind, with di Grassi in third, Prost fourth, Piquet fifth and Duval sixth. Abt used the rest of his electrical energy to move ahead of d’Ambrosio and claim seventh. Turvey’s car was overheating and took ninth with López rounding out the points scoring positions in tenth. Félix da Costa and Sarrazin finished in 11th and 12th. Evans was in a points-scoring position but reduced his pace in the event’s closing period, dropping him to 13th.Frijns, Heidfeld, Ma, Carroll and Rosenqvist were the last of the classified finishers. It was Buemi’s third victory of the season, the ninth of his career, and he became the first driver to win three consecutive races in Formula E history.There were four lead changes in the race; four drivers reached the front of the field. Buemi led twice for a total of 31 laps, more than any other competitor.

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