Buemi gets a hat trick and romps away in the points

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Today’s victory sees the reigning champion pull away in the classification and he now heads Di Grassi, his closest rival, by 29 points (75 to 46.) The Brazilian had started from pole position, but in the race he soon had to give best to the superiority of the Renault powertrain – the Chinese team also uses the Z.E. 16 produced by the French manufacturer – and so he was overtaken first by Vergne and then Buemi.

The Swiss driver then immediately put on a spurt to pass the Frenchman and from then on, he built up enough of a lead to manage the rest of the race relatively comfortably. Vergne was second for almost all the race, managing to close slightly on Buemi in the second half, but he never looked like getting the better of him.

Di Grassi’s race did not go as smoothly in the initial stages, but with his second car, the Brazilian managed to haul himself up to third place on the podium, surrounded by the French power unit, given that behind him came Nicolas Prost (Renault e.dams.)  Nelson Piquet Jr. (NextEV NIO,) was fifth, having  had a strong race day.

Behind the top five, who all crossed the line covered by ten seconds, there was a tight battle that went on all race long. Making the best of it to finish in the points were Loic Duval (Faraday Future Dragon Racing,) Daniel Abt (ABT Schaeffler Audi Sport,) Jerome D’Ambrosio (Faraday Future Dragon Racing’) Oliver Turvery (NextEV NIO) e local hero José Maria Lopez. The DS Virgin Racing driver had some bad luck, crashing in qualifying, but in the race, he staged a spirited climb up the order, especially in the second part: a second championship point was his reward for all the hard work and it went down very well with a crowd in excess of 21,000 who watched the race at the Puerto Madero circuit.

Of the others, there was a noteworthy performance from Mitch Evans (Panasonic Jaguar Racing,) who shone in qualifying with a fine seventh place, but in the closing stages, he saw his chances of bringing home the Big Cat’s first ever points slip from his grasp.

“Today, with the heat, there were many other things to manage,” said Buemi. “Especially the temperature of the battery. So at the start of the race, I took it pretty easy for a couple of laps to see where we were, and we had the pace to pass the other guys. I have to say I had everything under control and I got quite a bit of a margin.

“Then on the second car we had some more issues on the brakes so it was quite difficult to actually drive the car, the car was not breaking straight. At the end of the day, you know in this category there is no point in having a big gap, because if you use energy to create a gap and then you have a safety car, all the energy is gone. So the best thing is to have a little bit of gap, that makes you feel safe, so if you made a little mistake you could get it back.”

Despite never getting close enough to pressure Buemi for the win, Vergne was very pleased to take second – the first podium finish for the new TECHEETAH team.

“Obviously I am really happy, we are a new team and we came from very far away and didn’t have any testing like all the other teams had,” said Vergne. “New beginnings, new engineers, new powertrain, new everything. We solved the struggles we had in Hong Kong and Marrakesh. I think the whole team did a fantastic job, working really, really hard, sometimes many hours overnight and in the end it paid off. I had a good car and I’m really happy so a big thank you to the team and I think if we can have a weekend without a mistake, I’m sure we can put the focus into getting a win.”

Another podium for di Grassi – his 15th in total – keeps him in second place in the championship, but he knows he and his Abt Schaeffler Audi Sport team will have their work cut out to overthrow the dominant Buemi.

“In the end, it was a good weekend and a good day for us,” said di Grassi. “Clearly we are not on the pace of the Renaults. I had the opposite of what Seb had. My first car was a bit of a mess, going everywhere, oversteering much more than expected, it was quite low on grip overall and I couldn’t drive it I just tried to carry it to the pits and then after the car change, the second car was good. I managed to catch back Nico and I overtook him, I opened a gap and caught JEV (Jean-Eric Vergne) a little bit. It’s part of this Championship, the cars sometimes they change for very little reason or a very little change makes a big difference.”

Behind Buemi and Di Grassi, in the drivers’ classification, we now have Prost, third on 36 points, and Vergne (22,) while in the teams’ championship, Renault e.dams has consolidated its lead on 111 points, ahead of ABT Schaeffler Audi Sport (60) and Mahindra (37.)

The fourth round of the FIA Formula E Championship takes place on 1st April at the Autodromo Hermanos Rodriguez in Mexico City.

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