|2016 Buenos Aires ePrix|
The Buenos Aires ePrix circuit
|Date||6 February 2016|
|Official Name||2016 FIA Formula E Buenos Aires ePrix|
|Location||Puerto Madero Circuit, Puerto Madero, Buenos Aires, Argentina|
|Lap length||2.480 km (1.541 mi)|
|Distance||35 laps / 86.800 km (53.935 mi)|
|Pole Sitter||Sam Bird|
|Team||DS Virgin Racing|
|Fastest Lap||1:10.285 on lap 29|
|Sam Bird||Sébastien Buemi||Lucas di Grassi|
|Winner Team||DS Virgin Racing|
|2015 Punta del Este ePrix||2016 Mexico City ePrix|
The 2016 FIA Formula E Buenos Aires ePrix, otherwise known as the 2016 Buenos Aires ePrix, was the fourth round of the 2015/16 FIA Formula E Championship, staged at the Puerto Madero Circuit in Buenos Aires, Argentina, on 6 February 2016. That race, which as the first of the season to be staged in 2016, would see Sam Bird secure victory in spite of some late race pressure from title protagonist Sébastien Buemi.
It was Bird whom claimed pole for the battle of Buenos Aires during qualifying, the Brit beating Nicolas Prost by a third of a second. The Frenchman himself would just edge out António Félix da Costa during Super Pole, while a poor session for Sébastien Buemi saw him fail to set a representative time at all.
Bird duly made a strong start from pole to take an early lead, with Prost slotting into second ahead of da Costa. Buemi would, however, steal the show from the back of the grid, with a huge dive on the brakes into the first corner carrying the Swiss ace from last to fifteenth in one fell swoop.
Buemi would pick up a couple more positions before the end of the opening tour, while Bird fended off a series of early challenges from Prost. The latter soon began to slip back towards da Costa and Stéphane Sarrazin after the opening barrage, with the early laps resulting in a lot of on-track action.
Bird managed to establish a small lead at the head of the field once Prost came under pressure from those behind, maintaining around a second and a half advantage over his pursuers. Buemi, meanwhile, was moving through a tight pack of cars with relative ease, breaking into the top ten just before the pit window opened.
The pit window would, however, be blighted by an appearance from the BMW Qualcomm i8 safety car, thrown to recover da Costa's stricken Team Aguri. This caused confusion across the field, with several drivers including Prost running out of energy after misjudging their energy use on their final lap.
Buemi was duly vaulted up the order, starting the second half of the race in third behind di Grassi and race leader Bird. A tense fight developed between the trio, before a small mistake from di Grassi allowed Buemi to slip into second with a few laps to go.
The pair duly duelled for victory until the chequered flag, with the Brit just managing to fend off Buemi's last minute lunge to claim victory. The Swiss racer, meanwhile, managed to extend his Championship lead, while di Grassi came home third a few seconds off their fight.
The huge six week break between the Buenos Aires and Punta del Este ePrix saw little action in regards to the Championship, although the break did witness the only in-season test for the Series. The 2015 Punta del Este Test was staged on the Sunday after the respective ePrix, and saw all of the teams test their machinery and complete numerous laps. Sébastien Buemi ended up at the top of the time sheets, with Jean-Eric Vergne splitting the Swiss driver from his French team mate Nicolas Prost.
After the test, there were rumours of a fall out between Venturi and driver Jacques Villeneuve, with the two ultimately going in separate ways in the build up to the ePrix in Argentina. Villeneuve's vacated seat was filled by Mike Conway, who had been slated to drive in the inaugural season before focusing on his other commitments. It would be the Brit's début, although he had tested a Formula E car before, having taken part in the 2014 Donington Test for Dragon Racing.
Further changes to the entry list were announced when the FanBoost vote opened twelve days from the start of the race. Team Aguri announced, surprisingly, that Nathanaël Berthon was leaving the team with no replacement immediately announced. Berthon, for his part, also left a cryptic message with the withdrawal, stating that he would remain, and race, in Formula E at the 2016 Paris ePrix later in the season. It was later announced that Salvador Duran would return to the team (having left during the 2015 Donington Test), having failed to take part in the earlier races of the season for Trulli.
Elsewhere, the FIA and Formula E Holdings announced the future approach of the series with regards to increasing the power of the cars. Initial reports suggested that the power would be increased to 250 kW at the start of the third season, although the FIA, after researching the development costs for the systems, opted to introduce the 25% increase over three seasons. This would also be welcome news for Jaguar, with the British manufacturer set to join the series as the first new manufacturer, as it would reduce their potential costs to join the series. Also highlighted in the press release was an increase in regenerated power, up to 150 kW (a 50% increase), and a minimum weight reduction to 880kg.
It was the man who dominated the Punta del Este Test that led the Championship, as Buemi brought a one point lead over Lucas di Grassi to Argentina. di Grassi, for his part, was proving to be every part as consistent as he had been at the start of last season (three ahead of his tally from the same point in 2014/15), as a huge 33 point gap separated the top two from the rest of the pack. Jérôme d'Ambrosio led the charge from behind, joined by Sam Bird just a handful of points behind, while Loïc Duval sat level on points with the Brit to complete the top five.
It was a much tighter picture, overall, in the Teams' Championship, as Renault e.Dams sat two points ahead of ABT Schaeffler Audi Sport at the summit of the series. Dragon Racing sat in third, down on points but within striking distance of the leading duo, before another small gap to the DS Virgin Racing team. The loss of the Trulli Formula E Team before the previous round meant that all nine teams had scored in the Championship, with NextEV TCR at the foot of the table after their difficult start to the new season.
The full entry list for the 2016 Buenos Aires ePrix is displayed below:
Shortly before the first practice session of the weekend, the qualifying group draw was made, allocating each driver to a specific group for the session. Each driver would get a warm-up lap before a single lap at full attack to set the best possible time during the six minutes allocated to each group. The top five drivers (overall) would then go through to the Super Pole session, which would determine the top five on the grid.
DS Virgin Racing would send both of their cars out in Group 1, as Sam Bird and the recovering Jean-Éric Vergne headlined the group. Stéphane Sarrazin and Nick Heidfeld would also be out on circuit, as would be Formula E debutante Mike Conway in his first taste of a competitive FE weekend. Vergne and Heidfeld were expected to struggle, with Vergne having not driven at all after suffering from food poisoning, and Heidfeld still recovering from an injury to his arm sustained earlier in the season.
Bird had been impressive all weekend, and put together a strong lap to top the first group, until Sarrazin flashed through a quarter of a second faster moments later. Conway was a surprise third in the group, just over a tenth behind Bird, and ahead of Heidfeld with the German a second off Sarrazin. Vergne rounded out the group but looked more comfortable in the car than he had been.
The man favourite for pole position, and leading the Championship, would headline Group 2, with Sébastien Buemi also joined by team mate Nicolas Prost. Loïc Duval would join them on circuit for six minutes, as would Simona de Silvestro and Daniel Abt, although their presence was only expected to be a minor distraction as Buemi and Prost hunted pole.
There was a shock in group two, as Buemi threw away his hot lap after braking too late for turn five, spinning into the run off area, just as Prost set the fastest time. Prost, however, was unable to beat Sarrazin's time, while Buemi would be almost guaranteed to start from last. Abt ended the session behind Bird and Conway, with Duval and de Silvestro either side of Heidfeld.
Again, the now reduced entry list meant that the third group would only contain four cars, meaning there would be more space on track. Nelson Piquet Jr. would be hoping to reverse his poor form in season two with a strong quali performance, while Bruno Senna and Robin Frijns would hope to continue their fairly good performances. Salvador Duran was making his return for Team Aguri, and would hope to rediscover his form from the previous season.
Frijns took advantage of the heat affecting the newer tech to set the fastest time from group three, but fell short of Bird and Conway, leaving him on the verge of missing out on the Shootout. Piquet put in a strong time to almost guarentee his best start for the season, with Senna and Duran struggling to stay on the pace, both over two seconds slow.
Lucas di Grassi was the centre of attention in the final group, as he led the quartet onto the circuit, hoping to qualify as close to Buemi as possible. Jérôme d'Ambrosio was another expected to get through to the Super Pole, given his impressive from in the Dragon, while António Félix da Costa was an outside hope for the shootout as the winner of the Buenos Aires ePrix in 2015. Oliver Turvey would round out the final group for NextEV TCR.
A mistake for di Grassi on his flying lap meant he missed out on getting into the shootout, as da Costa completed a stunning time to finish second overall, a little over a tenth off Sarrazin. di Grassi would have to settle for seventh, while d'Ambrosio completed the top ten, just ahead of Turvey who was beaten by team mate Piquet for the first time all season.
First out for their shootout lap was Conway, although a mistake saw him fail to best his earlier time and left him bottom of the pile. Bird was out next, beat his time from the group phase and topped the session, ramping the pressure up on the remaining three. Prost was next out, but was unable to best Bird, leaving him at the mercy of the final two to see if he would remain on the front row, as da Costa wound his car up for his shootout lap.
It was another strong lap from da Costa, but he fell short of Prost's time by just a hundreth of a second to end up in third, with Bird now only able to be beaten by Sarrazin. Yet, Sarrazin was unable to get close to his group time, and ended up on the second row behind da Costa, leaving Bird with his, and Virgin's first, pole position.
The final qualifying results for the 2016 Buenos Aires ePrix are outlined below:
|2016 Buenos Aires ePrix Qualifying Result|
|1st||2||Sam Bird||DS Virgin Racing||1:09.420||—||1||G1|
|2nd||8||Nicolas Prost||Renault e.Dams||1:09.751||+0.331s||2||G2|
|3rd||55||António Félix da Costa||Amlin Andretti||1:09.761||+0.341s||3||G4|
|4th||4||Stéphane Sarrazin||Venturi Formula E Team||1:10.298||+0.878s||4||G1|
|5th||12||Mike Conway||Venturi Formula E Team||1:12.391||+2.971s||5||G1|
|1st||4||Stéphane Sarrazin||Venturi Formula E Team||1:09.236||—||SP||G1|
|2nd||55||António Félix da Costa||Team Aguri||1:09.381||+0.145s||SP||G4|
|3rd||8||Nicolas Prost||Renault e.Dams||1:09.473||+0.237s||SP||G2|
|4th||2||Sam Bird||DS Virgin Racing||1:09.474||+0.238s||SP||G1|
|5th||12||Mike Conway||Venturi Formula E Team||1:09.602||+0.366s||SP||G1|
|6th||27||Robin Frijns||Amlin Andretti||1:09.616||+0.380s||6||G3|
|7th||11||Lucas di Grassi||ABT Schaeffler Audi Sport||1:09.677||+0.441s||7||G4|
|8th||66||Daniel Abt||ABT Schaeffler Audi Sport||1:09.814||+0.578s||8||G2|
|9th||1||Nelson Piquet Jr.||NextEV TCR||1:09.931||+0.695s||9||G3|
|10th||7||Jérôme d'Ambrosio||Dragon Racing||1:10.067||+0.831s||10||G4|
|11th||88||Oliver Turvey||NextEV TCR||1:10.126||+0.890s||11||G4|
|12th||6||Loïc Duval||Dragon Racing||1:10.130||+0.894s||12||G2|
|13th||23||Nick Heidfeld||Mahindra Racing||1:10.321||+1.085s||13||G1|
|14th||28||Simona de Silvestro||Amlin Andretti||1:10.446||+1.210s||14||G2|
|15th||25||Jean-Éric Vergne||DS Virgin Racing||1:10.581||+1.345s||15||G1|
|16th||21||Bruno Senna||Mahindra Racing||1:11.306||+2.070s||16||G3|
|17th||77||Salvador Duran||Team Aguri||1:13.256||+4.020s||17||G3|
|110% Time: 1:16.159|
|NC*||9||Sébastien Buemi||Renault e.Dams||1:19.421||+10.185s||18||G2|
- * Buemi failed to set a lap time within 110% of the fastest lap of the group stage.
Anticipation hung in the air around the Buenos Aires ePrix circuit ahead of the start time, with Championship leader Sébastien Buemi expected to battle his way through the field in arguably the best car on the grid. Adding to the potential fight through the field was the fact that the temperatures in Argentina's capital had been causing cooling issues all day, and with temperatures unlikely to drop during the race, all of the drivers would have to take care during the race. But, that was a concern for the race, and completely out of everyone's minds when the lights went out.
A slick start from Sam Bird on pole saw him pull cleanly ahead of Nicolas Prost into the first corner, as António Félix da Costa fended off Stéphane Sarrazin for third. Yet, the real action was to come from the back, as Buemi braked far later than those around him, and slithered his car from eighteenth to fifteenth in one fell swoop. Quick reactions prevented the Swiss driver from collecting the back of compatriot Simona de Silvestro, as the Renault e.Dams machine slid sideways through the first corner before setting off after the rest of the pack.
The early laps were the familiar barrage of overtakes and lock-ups, as Buemi claimed a further position before the end of the first lap. Prost, meanwhile, was attacking Bird for the lead, but the Brit remained defiant and it soon became clear that da Costa and Sarrazin were more of a threat to the Frenchman. Mike Conway was holding his own in fifth on his début, while Jean-Éric Vergne found himself ghosting past cars in the wake of Buemi.
Lucas di Grassi had hoped to take advantage of Buemi's disastrous qualifying to take the lead in the Championship, but a poor start saw him slip back into the pack. Yet, the Brazilian fought back and by the start of lap three was hounding Robin Frijns for sixth, having dropped as low as tenth on the opening lap. Jérôme d'Ambrosio was suddenly tumbling down the order, after contact with the returning Salvador Duran saw him suffer bodywork damage that was rubbing against his rear-right tyre.
Bird was holding off his competitors by about a second as race came to the ten lap mark, with Prost suddenluy under attack from da Costa. The Portuguese had been running well all weekend, and his older Spark-Renault seemed to be coping well in the heat, as he pulled a clean dive down the inside of the Frenchman into turn five, snatching second. He then set off after Bird, whose Virgin was becoming increasingly sideways, although he remained in control of the race.
Back with Buemi and the Swiss driver was navigating a tight group of cars, headed by the two NEXTEV TCR cars, whose race pace was no where near their qualifying speed. Buemi took each one of the group methodically, using the same move lap after lap to pass, using a good exit out of turn three to snatch the inside line into the turn four hairpin. Clearing that gaggle left him in twelfth, as rival di Grassi took Frijns and Conway in short order, before pouncing on Sarrazin as the pitstop window approached.
Yet, there was to be heartbreak at the front of the field, as a software issue forced Team Aguri's da Costa out of the race just half a lap from the pitlane. His car was left abandoned at turn six and would require a safety car to be called, although the track officials opted to wait until the pitstops had been completed. Prost, meanwhile, was running very low on energy by this stage, and was left to trundle down the pitlane at the slowest possible speed, right in front of di Grassi. The Brazilian was forced to sit behind the Frenchman, giving him several taps in the process, before pulling into his own pitbox. Next to fall victim to the ailing Prost was his Renault team mate Buemi, who pulled alongside the sister car just before their pitboxes. All three were placed under investigation for their conduct in the pits.
Piquet was last to pit having saved enough energy for an extra lap, with the safety car called out the moment the Brazilian pulled out of the pits. It meant that Bird, who had benefited hugely from Prost's pitlane performance, lost an eight second lead over di Grassi, with Sarrazin now third. Yet, it was the last of this trio who would become the centre of attention, after he misread the boards and assumed that the race was being run under Full Course Yellow conditions instead, meaning he fell away from the leading two. With Buemi weaving around him to try to get him to speed up, the officials stepped in and instructed the safety car to slow and allow the pack to catch up.
The final classification of the 2016 Buenos Aires ePrix is displayed below, with the fastest lap setter indicated in italics, and the pole sitter shown in bold.
|2016 Buenos Aires ePrix Race Result|
|Pos.||No.||Name||Team||Laps||Race Time||Fastest lap||Pts.|
|1st||2||Sam Bird||DS Virgin Racing||35||45:28.385||1:11.368||28|
|2nd||9||Sébastien Buemi||Renault e.Dams||35||+0.716s||1:11.288||18|
|3rd||11||Lucas di Grassi||ABT Schaeffler Audi Sport||35||+7.525s||1:11.264||15|
|4th||4||Stéphane Sarrazin||Venturi Formula E Team||35||+9.415s||1:11.610||12|
|5th||8||Nicolas Prost||Renault e.Dams||35||+11.316s||1:11.495||10|
|6th||6||Loïc Duval||Dragon Racing||35||+15.660s||1:11.532||8|
|7th||23||Nick Heidfeld||Mahindra Racing||35||+16.444s||1:11.560||6|
|8th||27||Robin Frijns||Amlin Andretti||35||+18.685s||1:11.563||4|
|9th||88||Oliver Turvey||NextEV TCR||35||+22.007s||1:11.746||2|
|10th||21||Bruno Senna||Mahindra Racing||35||+22.456s||1:11.715||1|
|11th||25||Jean-Éric Vergne||DS Virgin Racing||35||+24.482s||1:11.779|
|12th||1||Nelson Piquet Jr.||NextEV TCR||35||+24.641s||1:11.650|
|13th||66||Daniel Abt||ABT Schaeffler Audi Sport||35||+27.998s||1:11.722|
|14th||28||Simona de Silvestro||Amlin Andretti||35||+36.171s||1:12.875|
|15th||12||Mike Conway||Venturi Formula E Team||35||+39.581s||1:12.216|
|16th||7||Jérôme d'Ambrosio||Dragon Racing||34||+1 Lap||1:10.285||2|
|Ret||55||António Félix da Costa||Team Aguri||17||Software||1:12.671|
|Ret||77||Salvador Duran||Team Aguri||14||Brakes||1:12.852|
- Indicates a driver was awarded FanBoost during the race.
- Second Buenos Aires ePrix to be staged.
- Sam Bird recorded his first pole position start.
- Also the first pole for Virgin Racing as an entrant.
- Third career victory for Bird.
- Virgin Racing secured their third win as an entrant.
- Powertrain partner DS claimed their maiden victory in FE.
- Maiden fastest lap recorded by Jérôme d'Ambrosio.
Victory moved Sam Bird to within 25 points of the top two, as Sébastien Buemi managed to pull ever so slightly further ahead. Lucas di Grassi now sat four behind the Swiss driver, with the Championship increasingly looking like a two horse race, although Bird could not be ruled out. Loïc Duval sat in fourth, 20 points back from Bird, with team mate Jérôme d'Ambrosio completing the top five.
Renault e.Dams forged ahead in the Teams' Championship, fifteen clear of ABT Schaeffler Audi Sport after four races. Dragon Racing were in an increasingly distant third, and coming under pressure from DS Virgin Racing after their maiden win, while Mahindra Racing slipped to fifth.
Only point scoring drivers and teams are shown.
Videos and Images:
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- 'Bird holds off Buemi for BA win', fiaformulae.com, (FIA Formula E, 06/02/2016), http://www.fiaformulae.com/en/news/2016/february/bird-holds-off-buemi-for-ba-win.aspx, (Accessed 17/08/2018)
- 'Bird claims first Formula E pole in Buenos Aires', fiaformulae.com, (FIA Formula E, 06/02/2016), http://fiaformulae.com/en/news/2016/february/bird-claims-first-formula-e-pole-in-buenos-aires.aspx, (Accessed 06/02/2016)
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- 'FanBoost open for Buenos Aires ePrix', fiaformulae.com, (FIA Formula E, 25/01/2016), http://fiaformulae.com/en/news/2016/january/fanboost-open-for-buenos-aires-eprix.aspx, (Accessed 28/01/2016)
- 'Nathanael Berthon parts company with Team Aguri', fiaformulae.com, (FIA Formula E, 25/01/2016), http://fiaformulae.com/en/news/2016/january/berthon-parts-company-with-team-aguri.aspx, (Accessed 28/01/2016)
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- 'Round 4 - Buenos Aires ePrix: Results Booklet', fiaformulae.alkamelsystems.com, (FIA Formula E, 2015), http://fiaformulae.alkamelsystems.com/Results/01_2015-16/04_Buenos%20Aires/71_FIA%20Formula%20E%20Championship/201602061607_Argentina_Booklet.pdf, (Accessed 17/08/2018)
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