Rewind: Buemi crowned FE Season 2 champion in dramatic finale

On July 3 2016, the Season 2 finale took place at the Battersea Park Street Circuit in London.

It was a race that promised plenty of drama, and it didn’t disappoint, with the two title contenders Lucas Di Grassi and Sébastien Buemi colliding at the start of the race.

Season 2 of the ABB FIA Formula E Championship saw the introduction of eight manufacturers, who were allowed to develop new powertrains, looking at the e-motor, the inverter, the gearbox and the cooling system.

The maximum power output was also increased from 150 kW to 170 kW.

With the cars no longer completely identical to each other, Nelson Piquet Jr was in for a challenge to defend his Drivers’ Championship Title that he achieved during the inaugural running of the series.

Season 2 consisted of 10 races (11 were scheduled but Moscow E-Prix was cancelled) from October 24 2015 in Beijing to the double-header in London on July 2-3 2016.

Renault e.Dams were reigning constructors’ champions from Season 1, and managed to dominate throughout Season 2.

They finished on the podium eight times out of 10 races and once at the Mexico City E-Prix was the only time the cars finished together (on the podium) achieving P2 and P3.

The driver line-up included Sébastien Buemi and Nicolas Prost, with Team Principal and former F1 champion Alain Prost ready to support them in pursuit of another title.

At the Beijing E-Prix, Sébastien Buemi began the season strong claiming pole position in qualifying, the fastest lap during the first race, and becoming victorious too.

He’d claim the fastest lap of the race another four times that season.

The Audi Sport Abt Schaeffler team were another competent line-up in the form of Lucas Di Grassi and Daniel Abt, of whom remain as the team’s drivers up to the current Season 6 edition of ABB Formula E.

Lucas Di Grassi also appeared high up in points finishes, claiming three wins over the season.

Despite the dominance of Renault e.Dams, the series saw yet another title fight to the wire at their second visit to London.

Lucas Di Grassi was leading the drivers’ standings ahead of Buemi after Round 9, the first race that would make up the double-header finale in London.

Image Credit: Gustavo Girardelli © OpenStreetMap

After Mahindra Racing’s Bruno Senna faced issues in Round 9, a three-point gaps was all that separated the two title-contenders.

Renault demonstrated their usual strong pace having locked out the front grid in qualifying, starting P1 (Buemi) and P2 (Prost); Di Grassi started in p3.

Buemi put together a lap-time of 1:22.033 for pole, which was a second quicker than any other driver.

The controversy that was to take place arrived all-too-soon, with Di Grassi keen to overtake Prost and especially Buemi; he would need to finish the race ahead of Buemi to simply take the title.

“And we go green in London…” Jack Nicholls exclaims his classic line with only a few corners passing by until Di Grassi interjected a decisive move but overworked his risky manoeuvre to ride into the back of Buemi.

Image Credit: © ABB Formula E

The shocking yet anti-climatic circumstances left spectators thinking that Di Grassi has guaranteed himself the drivers’ title, despite the controversial occurrence to take out Buemi.

It would seem that the title fight was over from the contact at Turn 3.

But it would continue as the pair would limp their wounded cars back to pit lane, still in hot pursuit for the title between them.

Since they would not score a top-ten finish to claim points in such a way, they would fight for the two points available for claiming the fastest lap.

Put simply, the driver (between them) who would claim the fastest lap of the race would claim the title.

Now in their second cars, they would acknowledge retiring by running out of energy but all in the name of winning the championship.

Di Grassi set a first lap time of 1:27.037 only for Buemi to immediately lower that mark to a 1:26.056.

The heat grew between them as the commentators and the spectators saw them throw punches back and forth to claim fastest lap.

Eventually, the exchange stopped as Buemi set a 1:24.582 only to then be followed by a 1:24.150 on Lap 16, which was enough to hold the fastest lap of the entire race.

Di Grassi retired two laps later despite his best efforts, and had to face the consequence of making a few mistakes only to lose his lead in the championship by a small margin.

Buemi was champion by just two points in the most dramatic of circumstances, and gained three points from Round 10 as opposed to none from Di Grassi; two were allocated for the fastest lap in the race and three were from his pole position in qualifying.

Embed from Getty Images

The final championship positions of Season 2 were cemented with Buemi at 155 points, di Grassi on 153, and DS Virgin Racing’s Sam Bird completing the top three at 111.

Much to the delight of Alain Prost, Renault e.dams claimed a consecutive constructors championship at 270 points, with two consecutive wins in London.

They were ahead of Audi Sport on 221, and DS Virgin Racing at 144.

Image Credit: Photo by Clement Luck © Groupe Renault

Despite Buemi claiming only one victory and a couple of other podium appearances during Season 5, he became a close title contender as he was knocked off by simply not achieving pole position (not gaining the points available) in the Super Pole Qualifying session at Round 13, Brooklyn – New York City.

As of Season 6 post-Marrakesh, he holds the most wins at 13 and a further impressive record of 26 podiums, 14 pole positions and 7 fastest race laps; all achieved throughout his 61 FE starts.

Position Car No. Driver Team Laps Time/Reason of Retirement Grid Pos. Points
1 8 Nicolas Prost Renault e.Dams 33 56:32.649 2 25
2 66 Daniel Abt Audi Sport ABT 33 + 7.633 6 18
3 7 Jérôme d’Ambrosio Dragon Racing 33 + 22.524 11 15
4 6 Loïc Duval Dragon Racing 33 + 23.290 10 12
5 4 Stéphane Sarrazin Venturi 33 + 24.984 15 10
6 21 Bruno Senna Mahindra Racing 33 + 27.174 13 8
7 23 Nick Heidfield Mahindra Racing 33 + 1:07.544 5 6
8 25 Jean-Éric Vergne DS Virgin Racing 33 + 1:08.002 7 4
9 1 Nelson Piquet Jr. NextEV TCR 33 + 1:14.270 9 2
10 88 Oliver Turvey NextEV TCR 33 + 1:22.216 4 1
11 55 António Félix da Costa Team Aguri 33 + 1:58.324 14
12 77 Ma Qing Hua Team Aguri 32 + 1 Lap 18
13 12 Mike Conway Venturi 32 + 1 Lap 12
Retired 11 Lucas Di Grassi Audi Sport ABT 18 Ran Out of Energy 3
Retired 9 Sébastien Buemi Renault e.Dams 16 Ran Out of Energy 1 2+3
Retired 27 Robin Frijns Amlin Andretti 11 Accident 16
Retired 28 Simona de Silvestro Amlin Andretti 9 Accident 17
Retired 2 Sam Bird DS Virgin Racing 6 Throttle Issue 8