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Formula E

Relive Sebastien Buemi’s brilliant victory in the ‘crazy’ first edition of the Hong Kong E-Prix

The Swiss Renault e.dams driver pounces on the mistakes of rivals to salute in the city’s inaugural Formula E race

PUBLISHED : Monday, 27 November, 2017, 5:08pm
UPDATED : Thursday, 30 November, 2017, 10:38am

Sebastien Buemi showed all the qualities of a champion in taking the inaugural Hong Kong E-Prix last year, keeping his cool in a race that came with thrills aplenty for fans packed around the Central Harbourfront course.

The Swiss Renault e.dams driver had come to Hong Kong as the reigning FIA Formula E Championship title-holder, having just missed out on the fledgling circuit’s first-ever driver’s championship, and he had shown himself suited to the twists and turns – and the intensity – that comes with street circuit racing.

Those particular skills were to prove vital as Buemi and rival Lucas Di Grassi (Audi Sport ABT) – the Brazilian driver who had finished second in Formula E’s second season – slugged it out over the final 20 laps.

Third place was filled by the veteran former Formula One driver Nick Heidfeld of Mahindra.

Buemi pounced at every opportunity during a race that featured 20 cars for Hong Kong’s first taste of international motorsport.

First, early leader Nelson Piquet Jnr (NextEV) felt the backlash of a crash and fell back through the field.

Watch: highlights of the inaugural Hong Kong E-Prix

Then, DS Virgin Racing’s Sam Bird snatched the lead and scorched around the 1.86-kilometre course, but he could not get his second car started after exhausting almost all the energy available in his first.

That’s when Buemi pounced – and he was never headed, despite suffering a major scare as his car began to overheat just as the finishing line started to loom.

“My start was good, but I didn’t really manage to pass anyone – the mistake from Nelson [Piquet] put me back in the race,” said Buemi.

“It was not easy ... at the end I lost all my regeneration, the battery overheated massively and one more lap would have made it impossible.”

In what was a precursor to how season three would eventually pan out, Di Grassi’s effort in finishing second had brought fans to their feet as he came from what looked like a hopeless position.

By the end of the season, the Brazilian would be crowned Formula E champion. In Hong Kong, Di Grassi started second last on the grid after a crash in qualifying before powering his way through the field to keep the pressure on Buemi all the way to the line.

Formula E champion Sebastien Buemi wins incident-packed maiden Hong Kong E-Prix

“It was a crazy race,” Di Grassi said in a master of understatement afterwards. “We proved we never give up.

“We started 19th after an accident in qualifying and in an accident in the beginning of the race we broke the nose and had to stop to change it.”