|2015 Punta del Este ePrix|
The Punta del Este circuit
|Date||19 December 2015|
|Official Name||2015 FIA Formula E Punta del Este ePrix|
|Location||Playa Brava Beach Circuit, Punta del Este, Uruguay|
|Lap length||2.785 km (1.731 mi)|
|Distance||33 laps / 91.905 km (57.107 mi)|
|Pole Sitter||Jérôme d'Ambrosio|
|Fastest Lap||1:17.413 on lap 23|
|Sébastien Buemi||Lucas di Grassi||Jérôme d'Ambrosio|
|Winner Team||Renault e.Dams|
|2015 Putrajaya ePrix||2016 Buenos Aires ePrix|
The 2015 Punta del Este ePrix, otherwise officially known as the 2015 FIA Formula E Punta del Este ePrix, was the third ePrix of the 2015/16 FIA Formula E Championship, staged at the Playa Brava Beach Circuit in the Uruguayan city of Punta del Este on 19 December 2015. The race, which would see Sébastien Buemi claim another dominant victory, was the start of a run of four consecutive races in the Americas.
The Swiss racer would, however, be beaten to pole position during qualifying, for Jérôme d'Ambrosio claimed his first Super Pole triumph. Loïc Duval made it an all Dragon front row with a strong time, with Sam Bird, Lucas di Grassi and the aforementioned Buemi completing the shootout.
d'Ambrosio duly swept into the lead at the start, with Bird leaping into second as Duval lacked traction on the dirty side of the grid. Buemi also made a strong start, moving ahead of di Grassi, before everyone bar Jean-Éric Vergne made it through the first chicane without issue.
The early stages would see d'Ambrosio establish a small lead, leaving Bird to fend off Duval and Buemi for second. Ultimately, it was Buemi whom pushed hardest, scything past both the DS Virgin and the #6 Dragon, before sprinting off to catch d'Ambrosio.
It was not long before Buemi sent his Renault e.Dams skating past d'Ambrosio's Dragon for the lead as the pair lapped a wounded Bruno Senna. He duly blasted clear to establish a healthy lead before mid-race car swap, while the Belgian racer slowly slipped back into the sights of Duval whom had passed Bird.
The pitstop window came and went without issue, with Buemi still leading while di Grassi leapt ahead of Bird and the two Dragons after a slick stop. He began to slowly close onto the back of Buemi, while Bird's race came to a premature end with an electrical failure shortly after the swap.
That proved to be the last significant change to the order out front, with di Grassi unable to catch Buemi before the chequered flag fluttered. Buemi duly cruised home to claim his fifth FE victory, while d'Ambrosio followed di Grassi home to claim third.
The big news story to emerge in the month and a half break between Putrajaya and Punta del Este was the announcement of the 2016 Mexico City ePrix, a new venue for the Championship. Becoming the fifth race of the new season, the Mexico City ePrix replaced the Miami ePrix from the first season, while its announcement was delayed due to other events at the Autódromo Hermanos Rodríguez circuit, such as Formula One. The race, which had been rumoured since the announcement of the original calendar despite the earlier omittance of a fifth round, is set to use the main straight and back half of the established F1 circuit layout.
In the week before the race there were also two shock announcements that would affect the entry list for both the current and future seasons. First, the Trulli Formula E Team announced their withdrawal from the Championship, having failed to start either of the two races so far, and suffering with major issues on their car. That left eighteen cars on the grid for the rest of the season, but hope that the series would continue to grow was announced just a few hours later. Jaguar, a British car manufacturer and racing legends made a surprise announcement that they would be returning to international motorsport with a factory backed effort in Formula E, joining the series for the third season.
Driver-wise, Nick Heidfeld had been advised to have surgery on a wrist injury sustained during the Putrajaya round, meaning he would miss the Uruguayan encounter. Mahindra therefore drafted Oliver Rowland, newly crowned Formula Renault 3.5 Series Champion, to take German's place, whom is expected to be fit and ready to return in Buenos Aires. There were also modifications made to the Punta del Este circuit, with the first chicane reversed to move the pit exit off of the racing line for safety reasons.
Elsewhere, a series of new partnerships and projects were announced by the FIA, with the largest concerning a new support series for the Championship, to debut in 2016/17. A deal with Kinetik, a firm involved in Artificial Intelligence development specifically for driverless cars, saw the creation of Roborace, a brand new series of electric racing, without any input from drivers. These driverless cars are planned to do battle for an hour before each ePrix in the third season, using computer algorithms calculated in real time, with the aim of promoting, and helping to develop, one of the newest sectors in the automotive world.
Meanwhile, the Championship battle had a surprising look to it given the dominance and pace of the Renault e.Dams machines. Two poles and two fastest laps for Sébastien Buemi had only been converted into a single victory for the Swiss ace, after both he and team mate Nicolas Prost suffered electrical and overheating issues in Putrajaya. Their demise saw a victory for Lucas di Grassi, who brought an eight point lead over Buemi into the third round. Sam Bird sat in third ahead of the weekend, having twice recovered from poor qualifying results to score solid points.
The events in Malaysia had also seen ABT Schaeffler Audi Sport climb to the top of the table in the Teams' Championship, with the all conquering e.Dams slipping to second. Mahindra Racing were a content third, becoming part of a three way battle between DS Virgin Racing, and Dragon Racing, for the best of the rest honour.
The full entry list for the 2015 Punta del Este ePrix is displayed below:
The demise of the Trulli Formula E Team meant that two of the four qualifying groups would have four cars, with the other two seeing five cars on track. The five quickest drivers in the group phase were to then go through to the Super Pole Shootout, with the slowest driver going first to set a lap on their own, before the second slowest car went out and so on.
NEXTEV TCR would have to prepare two cars for group one, as Nelson Piquet, Jr. and Oliver Turvey were drawn into the first session of qualifying. Joining them on circuit were Jean-Éric Vergne, hoping to kickstart his season with a strong quali-performance at the circuit in which he made his début, and Nathanaël Berthon.
Turvey's lap was enough to beat team mate Piquet Jr., with a tenth seperating the pair, as they went one-two to start the session. Vergne made a mistake early in his lap, but as he tried to regain time later in the lap got caught behind Nathanaël Berthon, ending any chance for the Frenchman to recover lost time. Berthon, however, escaped punishment, and ended the first group stage a second behind the two NEXTEV machines.
The second group saw the first of the big hitters join the session, with Championship leader Lucas di Grassi headlining the group. Nicolas Prost would be aiming to best the Brazilian, having been unable to match his team mate's pace earlier in the day. Sam Bird, Robin Frijns and Jérôme d'Ambrosio would also hit the track in group two, with all three hoping to cause an upset.
Prost set the first lap of the second group, but it was di Grassi who ended the group as the best driver, both in group and overall. More shocking was the fact that both d'Ambrosio and Bird also managed to beat the Frenchman, leaving him on the verge of missing the Super Pole session. Frijns, meanwhile, split the two NEXTEV cars for Andretti.
Group three was the second group to contain five cars, with Daniel Abt potentially having the equipment to challenge for the Super Pole Shootout, although for suggested that the German was struggling. Loïc Duval and Stéphane Sarrazin were battling to be the best of the Venturi wielding drivers, with António Félix da Costa aiming to be the best of those with older equipment. Oliver Rowland would make his Formula E qualifying debut as the fifth man in the quintet.
Duval set the pace in group three, joining team mate d'Ambrosio in the top five, leaving Prost in fifth, right on the margin for missing the Shootout. Abt missed out on beating Prost by a fraction of a second, with da Costa also impressing, going fastest of those using the season one technology. Sarrazin fell to thirteenth overall at the end of qualifying, gping half a second slower than Prost in fifth, while Rowland set a time three and a half seconds slower than the Frenchman.
The final six minute group was to be a quartet, featuring the favourite for pole and the man unbeaten in qualifying, Sébastien Buemi. Simona de Silvestro was hoping for her best quali result of the season, having been beaten by her team mate in the two previous sessions, while Jacques Villeneuve was hoping to show more promise than he had in practice. Bruno Senna completed the final quartet.
Buemi went out early and thrashed out a time good enough to go fastest overall and knock team mate Prost out of the Super Pole slots. Senna ended the session in ninth overall while de Silvestro went over two seconds slower than Frijns, her team mate, had managed earlier. Then there was Villeneuve, with the Canadian pushing hard to beat his team mate, only to write off his Venturi in a huge accident that halted the group stages early.
First man out to set a time in the Super Pole session was Bird, whom managed to go slower than he had done earlier in the session. Duval went next, beating Bird's time before a stunning lap by his Dragon Racing team mate d'Ambrosio saw the Belgian go fastest, and become a serious threat to the earlier pace setters. Di Grassi was next out, but his lap was ruined early on after brushing the wall at the start of his lap, paving the way for Buemi. The Swiss was pushing hard, smashing d'Ambrosio's first sector time, before braking too hard, and too late, for turn eight, destroying his lap and leaving him over four seconds behind d'Ambrosio.
The final qualifying results for the 2015 Punta del Este ePrix are outlined below:
|2015 Punta del Este ePrix Qualifying Result|
|1st||7||Jérôme d'Ambrosio||Dragon Racing||1:15.498||—||1||G2|
|2nd||6||Loïc Duval||Dragon Racing||1:15.875||+0.377s||2||G3|
|3rd||2||Sam Bird||DS Virgin Racing||1:16.109||+0.611s||3||G2|
|4th||11||Lucas di Grassi||ABT Schaeffler Audi Sport||1:16.635||+1.137s||4||G2|
|5th||9||Sébastien Buemi||Renault e.Dams||1:19.811||+4.313s||5||G4|
|1st||9||Sébastien Buemi||Renault e.Dams||1:15.011||—||SP||G4|
|2nd||11||Lucas di Grassi||ABT Schaeffler Audi Sport||1:15.115||+0.104s||SP||G2|
|3rd||7||Jérôme d'Ambrosio||Dragon Racing||1:15.481||+0.470s||SP||G2|
|4th||6||Loïc Duval||Dragon Racing||1:15.748||+0.737s||SP||G3|
|5th||2||Sam Bird||DS Virgin Racing||1:15.790||+0.779s||SP||G2|
|6th||8||Nicolas Prost||Renault e.Dams||1:15.913||+0.902s||6||G2|
|7th||66||Daniel Abt||ABT Schaeffler Audi Sport||1:15.993||+0.982s||7||G3|
|8th||55||António Félix da Costa||Team Aguri||1:16.014||+1.003s||8||G3|
|9th||21||Bruno Senna||Mahindra Racing||1:16.048||+1.037s||9||G4|
|10th||88||Oliver Turvey||NextEV TCR||1:16.154||+1.143s||10||G1|
|11th||27||Robin Frijns||Amlin Andretti||1:16.255||+1.244s||11||G2|
|12th||1||Nelson Piquet Jr.||NextEV TCR||1:16.300||+1.289s||12||G1|
|13th||4||Stéphane Sarrazin||Venturi Formula E Team||1:16.353||+1.342s||13||G4|
|14th||77||Nathanaël Berthon||Team Aguri||1:17.573||+2.562s||14||G1|
|15th||28||Simona de Silvestro||Amlin Andretti||1:18.281||+3.270s||15||G4|
|16th||23||Oliver Rowland||Mahindra Racing||1:19.414||+4.403s||16||G3|
|17th||25||Jean-Éric Vergne||DS Virgin Racing||1:19.946||+4.935s||17||G1|
|110% Time: 1:22.512|
|NC*||12||Jacques Villeneuve||Venturi Formula E Team||1:28.451||+13.440s||18||G4|
- * Villeneuve was unable to be classified as he failed to set a time within 110% of the fastest group stage time.
A dry and warm Saturday afternoon was to play host to the race, with Jérôme d'Ambrosio taking the pole spot for the first time. Otherwise, there were two issues to deal with ahead of the race, the first only affecting Venturi, whom had lost Jacques Villeneuve after the Canadian demolished one of his cars in qualifying. Secondly, the coastal setting of Punta del Este, combined with the breeze coming off the sea meant sand, which was being blown onto the outside of the circuit, and, more importantly, covering the even side of the grid. They were expected to have a disadvantage off the line, although only the actual start would reveal the true impact of the sandy shores.
The dust proved to be as much of a hindrance as expected at the start, as the starters on the dirty side of the grid all lost at least one position off the line. That left d'Ambrosio to sprint clear at the front of the field, ahead of Sam Bird whom had launched ahead of Loïc Duval to take second. Sébastien Buemi was already up into fourth by taking Lucas di Grassi off the line, before the field funnelled through the tight first chicane. Jean-Eric Vergne, at the back of the field, was the only man not to attempt to follow the circuit, cutting through the pit-exit to avoid making contact with anyone.
The opening lap concluded with d'Ambrosio a second clear of Bird, with the Brit already coming under pressure from Duval from behind. Buemi was also in close attendance, dragging di Grassi in his wake, while Nicolas Prost kept pressure on the second ABT Schaeffler Audi Sport car of Daniel Abt, ahead of an enticing scrap between Bruno Senna and António Félix da Costa. The Brazilian was defending resolutely, while the Portuguese racer tried every trick in the book to force his way by in the opening stages, with the pace beginning to settle as the leaders completed their second lap.
Buemi, meanwhile, was shaping up a move on Duval, and on lap four slung his Renault e.Dams machine past the Dragon to take third. Bird was dispatched with moments later, the Brit left to fight off Duval, while the Swiss driver sprinted off to catch d'Ambrosio, whom was steadily building a gap to the rest of the field as Buemi battled. Duval then pounced on Bird, who was struggling with the pace of the leaders, soon coming under the sights of di Grassi, the man desperate to catch Buemi.
By lap eight Buemi was found under the rear wing of d'Ambrosio's car in their battle for the lead, the Swiss also setting fastest lap in the process. Senna, meanwhile, was forced into the pits with damage to his car having run wide and hit the wall, meaning he would ultimately retire with no battery life left in his second car. It was as the leading pair were coming up to lap Senna that the Swiss driver pounced, slinging his car up the inside of the Belgian into the final chicane to snatch the lead, met with a large cheer from the crowd around the final section of the circuit.
Prost was trying hard to get within a respectable distance of his team mate but was being met with heavy resistance from Abt, until the Frenchman forced his way by unseen. Just ahead, di Grassi slotted his car up the inside of Bird into the final chicane to take fourth, leaving him in the wake of Duval to get onto the podium. The trio were also closing onto the back of d'Ambrosio, who was running four seconds behind Buemi, with the slowly developing quartet holding station as the halfway mark, and pitstops, approached.
The entire top six stopped on lap seventeen, an interesting scenario for Dragon as d'Ambrosio and Duval came in nose to tail, ahead of di Grassi and Bird who both locked up their cars trying not to hit the men in front of them. As they emerged from their garages it was Buemi who left first, ahead of di Grassi whom leapt ahead of both Dragon cars by virtue of his garage being further up the pitlane than the Dragon pits, meaning they were held as his car went past. Bird also gained, slotting ahead of Duval in the stops, with Oliver Rowland ending up with the lead of the race, although the Brit was yet to stop, and was running just a few seconds ahead of Buemi when the Swiss driver emerged.
But, there were dramas on the circuit for Bird, as he suffered an electrical failure while fending off Duval, leaving him to limp his car to a place safe enough for it to be pulled away from the circuit. Several reset attempts failed for the Brit meaning he was out of the race, with Senna joining him a few laps later with no energy left at his disposal. Once Bird's car was removed under waved yellow flags, the race continued with di Grassi slowly drawing in the leading car of Buemi.
The closing laps saw Vergne use his FanBoost to take Stéphane Sarrazin and enter the points, while di Grassi continued to pull himself into the wake of Buemi. Buemi, however, was not in the mood to be beaten, able to drag a second out of his Brazilian rival on one lap alone, before holding the gap at around two seconds. With those two in a stalemate for the lead, it was left to Vergne to provide the entertainment as he moved through the lower order of the points.
Onto the penultimate lap and Vergne's late charge had carried him up to ninth, just behind Nelson Piquet Jr., defending Champion. The Frenchman duly took the first opportunity he had to get by the Brazilian into the hairpin, only to be met with heavy resistance and a couple of taps after he ran wide. Later that lap, into the penultimate chicane, Piquet slid into the wall under braking, sending himself into a spin that also carried his car into the barrier on the inside of the chicane. The violent crash ripped three corners of his car off, while Vergne just avoided getting collected by the spinning NEXTEV TCR machine. Piquet emerged from his car unhurt, but disappointed after failing to secure his first points of the season.
Buemi, meanwhile, was not to be beaten and duly took his fifth win in an ePrix, ahead of di Grassi, d'Ambrosio and Duval. Prost ended the race in a lonely fifth place, on da Costa within sight of the second e.Dams machine, while Abt's last minute energy saving saw him slip behind Vergne, who was not a fault for Piquet's accident. Sarrazin had a quiet race to end the day in ninth, while Robin Frijns denied team mate Simona de Silvestro her first points by taking tenth.
The final classification of the 2015 Punta del Este ePrix is displayed below, with the fastest lap setter indicated in italics, and the pole sitter shown in bold.
|2015 Punta del Este ePrix Race Result|
|Pos.||No.||Name||Team||Laps||Race Time||Fastest lap||Pts.|
|1st||9||Sébastien Buemi||Renault e.Dams||33||45:59.697||1:17.413||27|
|2nd||11||Lucas di Grassi||ABT Schaeffler Audi Sport||33||+3.534s||1:17.795||18|
|3rd||7||Jérôme d'Ambrosio||Dragon Racing||33||+6.725s||1:17.789||18|
|4th||6||Loïc Duval||Dragon Racing||33||+6.807s||1:17.804||12|
|5th||8||Nicolas Prost||Renault e.Dams||33||+21.057s||1:18.599||10|
|6th||55||António Félix da Costa||Team Aguri||33||+22.410s||1:18.499||8|
|7th||25||Jean-Éric Vergne||DS Virgin Racing||33||+57.726s||1:18.373||6|
|8th||66||Daniel Abt||ABT Schaeffler Audi Sport||33||+1:00.744||1:18.809||4|
|9th||4||Stéphane Sarrazin||Venturi Formula E Team||33||+1:03.559||1:19.636||2|
|10th||27||Robin Frijns||Amlin Andretti||33||+1:03.840||1:18.710||1|
|11th||28||Simona de Silvestro||Amlin Andretti||32||+1 Lap||1:20.453|
|12th||88||Oliver Turvey||NextEV TCR||32||+1 Lap||1:19.675|
|13th||23||Oliver Rowland||Mahindra Racing||32||+1 Lap||1:19.760|
|14th||77||Nathanaël Berthon||Team Aguri||32||+1 Lap||1:19.036|
|15th||1||Nelson Piquet Jr.||NextEV TCR||31||+2 Laps||1:18.344|
|Ret||21||Bruno Senna||Mahindra Racing||26||Damage||1:19.932|
|Ret||2||Sam Bird||DS Virgin Racing||17||Electrical||1:19.623|
|DNS*||12||Jacques Villeneuve||Venturi Formula E Team|
- Indicates a driver was awarded FanBoost during the race.
- * Villeneuve could not start the race as one of his cars was too badly damaged in qualifying.
- Second Punta del Este ePrix to be staged.
- Debut race for Oliver Rowland.
- Jérôme d'Ambrosio secured his maiden pole start.
- Fifth career victory for Sébastien Buemi.
- e.Dams secured their sixth win as an entrant.
- Renault claimed their second victory as a powertrain manufacturer.
Victory and fastest lap saw Sébastien Buemi sneak back into the lead of the Formula E Championship, ending the 2015 a point ahead of Lucas di Grassi. Behind, Jérôme d'Ambrosio's first pole and podium finish of the season had ensured that the Belgian leapt into the top three, with Sam Bird and Nick Heidfeld both displaced. Loïc Duval also managed to break into the top five, while Jean-Éric Vergne added his name to the point scorers list.
Renault e.Dams moved back to the summit of the Teams' Championship, building a two point lead over ABT Schaeffler Audi Sport. Dragon Racing moved into third, swapping places with Mahindra Racing after their dire weekend in Uruguay, with DS Virgin Racing remaining in-between. Elsewhere, Team Aguri leapt into sixth place, while the withdrawal of the Trulli Formula E Team meant all nine surviving teams had scored.
Only point scoring drivers and teams are shown.
Videos and Images:
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- 'D’Ambrosio takes first Formula E pole', fiaformulae.com, (FIA Formula E, 19/12/2015), http://fiaformulae.com/en/news/2015/december/d-ambrosio-takes-first-formula-e-pole.aspx, (Accessed 21/12/2015)
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- 'Mexico City to host round five of 2015-2016 season', fiaformulae.com, (FIA Formula E, 19/11/2015),http://fiaformulae.com/en/news/2015/november/mexico-city-to-host-round-five-of-2015-2016-season.aspx, (Accessed 19/11/2015)
- 'Trulli Formula E Team announce withdrawal from championship', fiaformulae.com, (FIA Formula E, 15/12/2015), http://fiaformulae.com/en/news/2015/december/trulli-announcement.aspx, (Accessed 15/12/2015)
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