Buemi beats Di Grassi to win in Punta del Este

Sebastian Buemi, Renault
©DPPI / François Flamand

Sébastien Buemi edges title rival Lucas di Grassi to win the Punta del Este ePrix, with the Renault e.dams racer also setting the fastest lap to reclaim the championship lead by one point.

A small mistake in qualifying had bumped Buemi down to fifth on the grid, but such was the competitiveness of the Renault package that the Swiss had already surged into the lead by Lap 8.

The ex-Toro Rosso driver immediately beat di Grassi’s ABT off the line and set about chasing Dragon Racing’s Loïc Duval. Buemi took third from the Frenchman on Lap 4 before hunting the fast-starting DS Virgin of Sam Bird.

It only took the 2014 FIA WEC champion a pair of laps to depose the Briton and another two to relieve pole sitter Jérôme D’Ambrosio of first place, with Buemi controlling the proceedings from there onwards.

The only alert came when Bird’ retirement brought out a Full Course Yellow procedure that allowed Di Grassi, who had jumped both Dragon cars in the pits, to close the gap.

Buemi quickly pulled away at the restart and steadily opened a nice cushion to cross the line 3.5s ahead of the Brazilian. The Swiss ace makes it two wins out of three events this year, while also securing back-to-back victories in Uruguay.

Former Virgin and Lotus F1 racer D’Ambrosio held off team-mate Duval by the narrowest margin to round the podium positions. Renault’s Nicolas Prost finished fifth ahead of Team Auguri’s Antonio Felix da Costa.

Next up was Jean-Eric Vergne, who forced his way past reigning champion Nelson Piquet on the penultimate lap to clinch seventh, ahead of Daniel Abt.

Venturi’s Stéphane Sarrazin and Andretti’s Robin Frijns complete the points-paying positions, while 1997 F1 world champion Jacques Villeneuve could not take part in the race due to a crash in qualifying.

2015 Formula Renault 3.5 champion Oliver Rowland was a quiet 13th on his maiden FE weekend with Mahindra, while team-mate Bruno Senna’s chances were dealt a blow early on when he suffered a puncture on Lap 3.

The next Formula E race will take place in Buenos Aires, with Argentina’s capital city hosting round four of this year’s championship on 6 February 2016.

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