By Catherine Dow @CatDow @TLE_Sport
Sebastien Buemi won this Saturday’s Formula-E race in Punta del Este, Uruguay. The e.dams Renault driver clinched the victory after capitalising on Jean-Eric Vergne’s suspension struggles. Buemi fought hard for the win, locking his rears in an attempt to pass Nelson Piquet Jnr. in the early stages. Later, the Swiss driver cut the chicane fighting to defend against Vergne, but he was gifted the win as the Frenchman developed a suspension issue on the penultimate lap, giving up the chase and dropping back to finish 14th.
In qualifying, newbie Vergne posted the quickest time, racing for Andretti Autosport. The pole sitter started on the dirty side of the track and in a cloud of dust saw Piquet Jnr. take first place on the first corner. Vergne soon gained the place back, but lost the lead during the pitstop.
Piquet Jnr. drove a strong race and finished second for China Racing while Championship leader Lucas di Grassi extended his lead by 18 points to 58 after finishing third. The Brazilian Audisport Abt driver has been on every step of the podium this season. Meanwhile his teammate Daniel Abt struggled with mechanical problems for yet another race. Abt pitted early on to switch cars and set the fastest lap of the race for two points.
In a race that saw the use of team radio broadcasts for the first time, the drama continued to excite for the 31 laps of the 2.8km beachside track.
Putrajaya winner Sam Bird struggled all day, putting his car in the wall both in qualifying and then again in the race. The sausage kerbs launched his Virgin Racing car out of the corner as he missed the chicane, deploying the safety car. Bird was one of four DNFs including Vergne’s teammate Matt Brabham and Amlin Aguri’s Antonio Felix da Costa.
Venturi Racing driver Nick Heidfeld was one of the winners of the controversial “Fanboost” – where fans can vote on their favourite driver and give them two power boosts during the race. Heidfeld put the extra energy to good use to overtake Virgin driver Jaime Alguesuari. Although the German was leading after the pitstop, he received drive-through penalties for not adhering to the regulatory minimum pitstop time and using too much power. However, Heidfeld will be pleased he finished a race for the first time this season – in tenth place, picking up one point.
Heidfeld’s team mate Stéphane Sarrazin, who topped in-season testing on Sunday, had a feisty drive, but his aggression sent him into a spin and out of the race, bringing the safety car out as drivers prepared to pit for their second cars.
Jarno Trulli finished fourth, while TrulliGP female racer Michela Cerruti battled from 18th to finish 12th.
Dragon Racing’s Jerome D’Ambrosio and Oriol Servia had strong results in Malaysia but failed to maintain the buoyancy of those races, falling back to eighth and ninth respectively.
Mahindra Racing’s Bruno Senna has shown incredible resilience, after being penalised in two consecutive races. This time, the mechanics were still working on his car five minutes before qualifying started. Despite qualifying eighth, Senna was demoted to the back of the grid. The Brazilian finally finished sixth and took his first eight points of the season.
e.dams Renault lead Audisport Abt by two points in the Constructors championship as the Formula E roadshaw moves to Buenos Aires for Round 4 on the 10th of January 2015.
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