After poor qualifying results that saw Nico Prost start from ninth on the grid and Séb Buemi fourteenth, Renault e.dams drove a strong first race at the Berlin ePrix double-header. Championship leader Séb Buemi took fifth place at the chequered flag, with team-mate Nico Prost one place adrift in sixth. Post-race, however, Séb was disqualified for his car failing to comply with the minimum tyre pressure.
When the lights went out, both drivers made strong starts but failed to make up any positions on the opening lap. Their mission was then to carve their way through the field, with Séb Buemi first to make progress by overtaking Stéphane Sarrazin on lap 7 to go P12. Nico also saw an opportunity and made a bold move on Maro Engel into Turn 1 to take eighth place. A few laps later, Séb was again on the move and made a manoeuvre stick on the inside of Jérôme d’Ambrosio at Turn 9 and gained another place.
Before both drivers made their mandatory car swap, Séb Buemi was in ninth position while Nico Prost was seventh. After a great car change, Prost headed back out on track in sixth. It was not long before Séb was back attacking his rivals and made another confident pass on Daniel Abt for P8. With ten laps to go, the title leader pulled off a superb move on Sam Bird and took P7 before overtaking his team-mate for P6. Both Renault e.dams drivers were all over the rear of Jean-Eric Vergne’s car but couldn’t find a way to pass him. Nonetheless, the Techeetah driver was given a 5 second time penalty for an unsafe pit release, which promoted Séb and Nico to fifth and sixth place respectively at the chequered flag, before Buemi’s disqualification.
Earlier in the day, the Berlin ePrix had started well for Renault e.dams with Séb topping the timesheets in the first free practice session. His lap time of 1:08.151 was new track record for the revised Tempelhofring. Nico set the second fastest lap time, only five tenths shy of his team-mate. The second free practice session saw both drivers struggle a little as they were unable to post a quick lap.
Nico drew Q2 for his qualifying run, setting the ninth fastest time of the field. Séb ran in the Q4 group and couldn’t do better than 14th place because of a problem with the balance of the car.
Renault e.dams maintain their lead in the Teams’ Championship and sit on 200 points after today’s race. Even with the disqualification, Buemi remains on top in the Drivers’ standings with 132 points, 22 points over Lucas Di Grassi while Prost lies in third with 68 points. The team will race again tomorrow for the second race of the Berlin ePrix which means more opportunities to score points.
Alain Prost, co-owner of the team : It was a complicated and disappointing day because of the issues we faced in qualifying. However, we did very well during the race by finishing fifth and sixth at the chequered flag. Unfortunately, the day ended badly for us with Sébastien’s exclusion from the results for failure to comply with minimum tyre pressure. It was a mistake from our side that cost us greatly. It is our duty to do better in tomorrow’s ePrix for the team and obviously to keepSébastien in the championship battle.”
Séb Buemi - #9 : “Obviously, I am very disappointed today. After a poor qualifying, I did a great race to finish in fifth position and score the maximum points I could. However, despite the disappointment, I remain focused to do another great race tomorrow and come back even stronger.”
Nico Prost - #8 : “We had a bit of a strange morning. I had a problem in Free Practice 2 that Séb also experienced in qualifying, but the race pace was very good. I was stuck in traffic at the beginning of the race and Jean-Eric Vergne blocked me quite a lot. I think we could have fought with the top three in terms of race pace. It’s the story of the season so far for us. We are good during the race but not good enough during qualifying. The championship is so tight at the moment. However, I’m happy with my race result. I put my foot down to achieve the maximum. Tomorrow is going to be another challenge. From what I have heard, it’s going to be six degrees hotter which will make it even more interesting and challenging. It will make for some differences in driving too.”