Carnage-ridden Putrajaya ePrix
The Formula E series returned to Putrajaya for a thrilling weekend. Sébastien Buemi, who took the first victory of the second season, in Beijing, started from pole position and looked set to rule the race again. It didn’t take long before he opened up a wide lead in the early laps, losing the strong advantage only briefly when Oliver Turvey’s stuck throttle ran him into the wall and called out the safety car. At the restart, Buemi pulled ahead of the pack again.
Behind him, Loïc Duval, Antonio Felix da Costa, Nicolas Prost and Lucas di Grassi were engaged in battle until Buemi’s car ground to a halt, midway through the race, as did his dream for a back-to-back win. His Renault e.dams’ teammate, Prost, was also experiencing temperature problems, and both were called in early to swap cars. The early pitstops meant that they had to conserve power till the end of the race and, along with Duval’s slow pitstop, allowed di Grassi and da Costa to jump in front of the field. On lap 25, however, da Costa’s car simply ‘switched off’, which took him out of contention for a podium finish.
It was then the series of crashes began: Robin Frijns nosed the wall; Prost also collided with the wall and d’Ambrosio crashed out on the final lap from what would otherwise be a second place win for him.
After an eventful race and multiple changing of positions on the streets of the Malaysian administrative centre, di Grassi claimed his second victory of the Formula E series, his first being at the inaugural race in Beijing last year. This latest victory and his second place in the last race pushes di Grassi to the top of the standings.
Sam Bird, who started at 14th place, climbed his way to second, despite encountering electrical issues. Frijns managed to drag his battered car to the finish line to round up the podium.
Williams Advanced Engineering has come under criticism for the spate of battery issues during the Putrajaya ePrix, but the company rejects that there are any design faults, pointing out that thermal management is part of running the cars. “Some teams have an advantage because they understand the system better, that’s what makes them different,” a company representative said.