Renault e.dams endured a frustrating FIA Formula E Faraday Future Long Beach ePrix, with Nico Prost finishing in eleventh and Sebastien Buemi in sixteenth. An accident, resultant car damage and a drive-through penalty blighted Sebastien Buemi’s race whilst Nico Prost received a drive-through penalty too. Renault e.dams retains its Teams’ Championship lead albeit it with a diminished margin of six points.
The two Renault Z.E.15s started in seventh and eighth on the grid, both gaining a position because of a penalty for hitherto pole-sitter Antonio Felix da Costa. Renault e.dams duo made strong starts but two laps after setting the race’s fastest lap on lap seven, Sebastien ran into the back of Robert Frijns ahead, damaging both cars.
Sebastien continued his drive despite losing half of his front wing, however was soon to be shown the black and orange flag with the damage deemed to be a danger. The team brought him in for an early car swap, however he was also to be issued a drive-through penalty for the incident.
Despite having to complete a mammoth 26 laps in his second car, Sebastien was able to make the most of the Renault powertrain’s energy management to be able to set a new race fastest lap on the 28th tour with a 57.938secs. He finished the race in sixteenth and loses the Drivers’ Championship lead to rival Lucas di Grassi with 100 points versus 101.
Nico meanwhile drove a measured and intelligent race to be in a strong fourth position after the mandatory car change, but was soon to bae served a drive-through penalty too, due to the pit stop being completed a fraction under the prescribed minimum time. He finished in an eventual eleventh position.
Earlier in the day Sebastien topped the times in the first non-qualifying practice session, as well as going second fastest in FP2. Drawing to go out in the first group he qualified eighth. Nico was P9 in first practice and P7 in the second, qualifying ninth after also missing out on Superpole. Both drivers gained a position on the grid because of da Costa’s qualifying penalty.
#8 Nico: “Things were going really well for me running in fourth position before the drive-through. We were looking good for the rest of the race and I think we could have even been in with a chance of a podium finish, so it was frustrating for such a small mistake to result in the penalty. Today has been another day for us to learn from as I really want to come back very strong for my home race in Paris.”
#9 Sebastien: “It was a really bad day for me and for the whole team. I made a mistake trying to close in on Robin Frijns and I can only apologise to him, his team and of course everyone at Renault e.dams. It’s been a difficult day but we must move on and we’ll be doing everything we can to bounce back for our home race in Paris.”
Vincent Gaillardot, Renault Sport Project Leader: “This weekend we were less competitive than we were in the first half of the season. This is something which we are clearly analysing as we need to understand if this is because of any particular issue we have or because our rivals have been making strong progress. Whatever the answer to this question the solution for what we need to do is clear; we need to be better at the next race.”
Alain Prost, Senior Team Manager: “We started today strongly with the fastest car, and ended the day with the fastest car however we didn’t achieve a good result. We lost ground in qualifying and maybe because of this Sebastien made a mistake in the race and the team made a mistake in Nicolas’s pit stop. Clearly we need to make improvements ahead of Paris as this weekend we lost too many potential points.”
Jean-Paul Driot, Senior Team Manager: “This was a weekend where we put ourselves under too much pressure to achieve the very top result and instead we didn’t achieve the strong results we should have achieved here in Long Beach. Everyone in the team and both drivers have worked hard all weekend. On behalf of the team I apologise to Nico as the drive-through was not his fault and he could have finished possibly on the podium. We will spend time objectively analysing our performance to ensure both drivers and the entire team have strong confidence heading to Paris.”
Renault e.dams, Sebastien and Nico will next be seen in action for the seventh round of the 2015/16 FIA Formula E Championship, the FIA Formula E Visa Paris ePrix on April 23.
1 Lucas di Grassi (ABT Schaeffler Audi Sport)
2 Stephane Sarrazin (Venturi Formula E Team)
3 Daniel Abt (ABT Schaeffler Audi Sport)
4 Nick Heidfeld (Mahindra Racing Formula E Team)
5 Bruno Senna (Mahindra Racing Formula E Team)
11 Nico Prost (Renault e.dams)
16 Sebastien Buemi (Renault e.dams)