BERLIN EPRIX 2016

Sebastien Buemi won the Berlin ePrix to close Lucas di Grassi’s championship lead to just one point heading into Formula E’s season finale.

Buemi beat poleman Jean-Eric Vergne away at the start but lost first place a lap later and had to repass the DS Virgin Racing driver with a bold move into Turn 5.

Once he was in the clear Buemi bolted, building a lead north of 10 seconds before the mid-race car swaps.

He had to manage a full-course yellow and then a physical safety car at the end, which set up a two-lap sprint at the finish.

By this time di Grassi had worked his way up to third, only behind Abt Audi Sport team-mate Daniel Abt.

The team then informed Abt to move aside, but the German did not oblige and took the flag second as Buemicelebrated a first win since Punta del Este last December.

Abt was jubilant on the team radio after the race, the opposite of his stoney-faced father, team owner Hans-Jurgen, in the garage.

“There was an order and I thought about doing it, I wanted to do it, and I slowed down on the main straight,” said Abt. “But I don’t think he realised it.”

Third for di Grassi at least continued his 100 per cent podium streak on the road this season, though he will be investigated after the race for allegedly speeding under the full course yellow.

Finishing third instead of second costs di Grassi three points in his tight fight for the drivers’ title with Buemi, which goes to the double-header at Battersea Park finely poised.

Behind the top three Nicolas Prost was a quiet fourth, with Vergne fading to fifth after hitting the wall just before the mid-race car swaps.

Vergne was fortunate, not just because of the timing of his accident – which broke his front wing – but because he had also just picked up a mechanical failure flag that would have forced him to pit anyway.

The Frenchman clipped a bollard and broke the endplate, but his wing did not exhibit any lasting damage, making the flag one of several odd calls from the officials.

Vergne’s Virgin team-mate Sam Bird had his race ruined by a similar problem. He was flagged in for repairs for a wobbly endplate.

NEXTEV TCR drivers Nelson Piquet Jr and Oliver Turvey were also forced in for alleged mechanical failures while running well inside the points, while Team Aguri debutant Rene Rast was shown the same flag.

Those issues helped promote Robin Frijns to an excellent sixth, with Nick Heidfeld taking seventh after a strong drive from 16th following penalties for tyre pressure infringements for both Mahindras after qualifying. Mike Conway, Simona de Silvestro and Stephane Sarrazin completed the points finishers.

One point before the race we found out that Stephan Sarrazin might not be racing as he had a crash in practice but last minute he made it.

 

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