TOP SIX FOR BUEMI AND MORE CRUCIAL POINTS AT THE DIRIYAH E-PRIX
28 January 2023
ENVISION RACING’S SÉBASTIEN BUEMI SNATCHED A DRAMATIC SIXTH PLACE AT THE FLAG IN SAUDI ARABIA AND HEADS TO HYDERABAD FULL OF SPEED AND CONFIDENCE
The second race of the Diriyah E-Prix double-header saw more vital points bagged for Envision Racing to cap a promising opening three races to the GEN3 era of Formula E.
Race one’s pole-sitter Sébastien Buemi started the second race under the lights in Saudi Arabia an excellent fourth, and brought the car home in sixth, following a thrilling finish, beating Mitch Evans on the line, proving it isn’t over until it’s over.
This means as the team head to India for the inaugural Hyderabad E-Prix, the Swiss driver sits third in the Drivers’ championship standings, and Envision Racing hold fourth in the Teams’ championship.
Following a strong performance in the weekend’s first race, Envision Racing’s Nick Cassidy endured a tough Saturday evening at the Diriyah E-Prix. The Kiwi driver ended up finishing 13th, but will look to get back on track in India.
Buemi was at it again in qualifying, taking the fight for pole to the knock-out stage. The Envision Racing driver continued his scintillating pace from qualification for the weekend’s opening race, taking the second fastest time in Group A.
In the quarter-finals, Buemi faced reigning champion Stoffel Vandoorne. The Swiss driver made light work of his Belgian rival to make it into the semi-finals for the second time in 24 hours.
Sadly, Buemi couldn’t repeat the heroics of race one’s knock-out phase, and lost out to eventual pole position-winner Jake Hughes to line up an impressive fourth on the grid for round three of the championship.
As the field entered and exited the opening sequence of corners for the first time, Buemi found himself down two places, as a few metres up the road, Jaguar’s Mitch Evans overhauled Hughes to take the lead. Further back, Buemi’s Envision Racing team-mate Cassidy managed to move up from 15th to 14th.
By lap five, Buemi had managed to hang on to the leading five cars, as the train of GEN3 Formula E cars settled into an energy and tyre-saving flow, with little in the way of drama throughout the 22-car field.
Following the first flurry of Attack Mode phases, Rene Rast hit the front on lap 12, ahead of Evans and Hughes. Further back, Cassidy gained another place, taking 13th ahead of António Félix da Costa, as the race approached the halfway point.
Buemi took his first Attack Mode on lap 19, dropping back from sixth to eighth behind the squabbling trio of Edoardo Mortara, Dennis, and Sam Bird. By lap 22, Buemi was loading the pressure on Mortara’s Maserati, as up front, race one winner Pascal Wehrlein headed the field.
There was drama as the race approached the final 10 laps with a safety car triggered due to an off at turn one from Nico Mueller. At the restart, Wehrlein set about increasing the gap back to Dennis and Bird in third with Buemi looking to find a way around compatriot Mortara, and up into seventh place. Buemi slipped up into seventh with a handful of laps left to run, as at the front the battle for the victory between Wehrlein and Dennis came to the boil.
At the chequered flag, Wehrlein hung on to make it two in a row ahead of Dennis and Rast. Behind there was huge drama as Buemi rounded out his Diriyah E-Prix in sixth place, clinched at the line as fifth-place-man Hughes looked to have run out of energy, slowing the pursuing Evans and allowing Buemi to snatch sixth.
“It has been a good weekend, finishing in the points in both races, pole position on Saturday,” said Buemi. “I had a good car today, and I think I was a bit unlucky in turn one at the start where I lost two positions and it is very difficult to overtake, so that put me at a disadvantage. I had plenty of energy at the end of the race, which was the opposite of yesterday, and I felt like I could’ve achieved more. I did get lucky at the final corner where Hughes lost power and his car shut down, which meant I managed to pass Mitch (Evans) on the line, and actually narrowly missed out on fifth by a few thousandths of a second. I feel we are getting stronger, and now we can regroup and look towards India, and I feel we are getting better and better.”
Looking back at Saturday’s climax to the Diriyah E-Prix, Envision Racing’s Managing Director & CTO Sylvain Filippi said: “It has been another eventful day, and a very productive day. The objective was to score points, but we are also still learning. It is very early days in the GEN3 era and it’s important that we understand what works and what doesn’t work with the car. Seb was really strong again in qualifying and fourth on the grid was a very good result, plus he was also second quickest in his group. Unfortunately, Seb was a bit unlucky at the start of the race and lost two places, but good Attack Mode strategy helped him recover and of course he managed to pass Mitch Evans right at the end.”