Formula E

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

The Renault e.Dams driver finishes ahead of last season’s runner-up Lucas Di Grassi, with veteran former Formula One driver Nick Heidfeld third through the streets of Central on Sunday

PUBLISHED : Sunday, 09 October, 2016, 5:51pm
UPDATED : Sunday, 09 October, 2016, 6:21pm

Reigning Formula E champion Sebastien Buemi won the first ever Hong Kong ePrix through the streets of Central on Sunday.

In an incident-packed thriller in front of a sell-out crowd on the Harbourfront, the Frenchman took the lead midway through the race and fended off rival Lucas Di Grassi, last season’s runner-up, through the remaining 20 laps.

Veteran former Formula One driver Nick Heidfeld finished third.

“My start was good, but I didn’t really manage to pass anyone - the mistake from Nelson [Piquet] put me back in the race then what happened with Sam [Bird],” said Renault e.Dams’ Buemi.

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

Piquet had been leading before Jose Maria Lopez crashed in front of him, causing the NextEV driver to have to brake suddenly and plummet down the standings.

Crash, bang, wallop: drivers fume as last-minute track changes at Hong Kong Formula ePrix cause qualifying carnage

DS Virgin Racing’s Bird took over and exerted every drop of power from his battery, rolling into the pits with almost nothing left to swap to a fully-charged car – which then failed to start, allowing Buemi to steal first.

“Yeah it’s crazy [me and Di Grassi again], their [team's] strategy helped them massively, credit to them they did well,” added Buemi.

“For us we finished last season with not such a good race, so it’s good to get off to a good start.”

The drive of the day was from Audi ABT-Schaeffler’s Di Grassi though, who started from second-last on the grid after crashing in qualifying.

Drivers give Hong Kong Formula E track the thumbs up amidst public backlash

He was then involved in another incident with Ma Qinghua at the start that ended the Chinese driver’s race on the first turn.

“It was a crazy race today, we proved we never give up, we started 19th after an accident in qualifying and an accident in the beginning of race we broke the nose and had to stop to change it,” said Di Grassi.

“The safety car came in, I took a very aggressive strategy then I had to save a lot of energy [in the battery] – another podium, my 14th in Formula E, I’m very happy.

Formula E ambitions for Hong Kong’s Darryl O’Young after his trial run on Central Harbourfront

“People don’t realise at home, we have to extract everything out of the battery to go three laps longer than the rest of the guys, I have to save much more energy [with] every braking, have a very smooth driving style. It’s a great start to the season.”