It was Sébastien Buemi who set the pace once more in the Paris ePrix on Saturday. The reigning champion secured pole position, which he later converted into victory on the Les Invalides circuit.
After defending his lead, the Swiss established a small but comfortable lead. Techeetah driver Jean-Éric Vergne was the only one able to challenge to Buemi, but after the 28-year-old had hit the Fanboost button, the Frenchman was out of options. With Vergne already reaching his limit, he eventually hit the wall in lap 34, crashing out of the race.
One man’s poison, another man’s meat: José María López (DS Virgin Racing) placed himself second, celebrating his best result so far this season, whilst Mahindra Racing’s Nick Heidfeld secured third.
The other contender for the title, Lucas di Grassi (Abt Schaeffler Audi Sport) also didn’t finish the race after a rather hard duel with António Félix da Costa (MS Amlin Andretti). di Grassi tried to overtake Félix da Costa but never managed to get through. On a narrow street circuit the inevitable happened: they crashed.
While Félix da Costa was immediately out of the race, di Grassi was able to continue trying to chase the fastest lap. Pushing a little too hard, the Brazilian also ended his race in the barriers, forcing the Safety Car out on track again. In addition, the 32-year-old received a drive through penalty after being released before the stated minimum pitstop time during the car change.
di Grassi’s team-mate Daniel Abt seemed to be on a safe top ten position when the Audi stopped on track just a few meters before the finish line. First, none of the other drivers wanted to overtake as the Safety Car has been out before, creating a wild pile of cars pictures. In the end, they did pass the German who was 13th in the final results.
The most spectacular overtaking manoeuvre could be seen by Felix Rosenqvist (Mahindra Racing) passing Esteban Gutiérrez (Techeetah). Rosenqvist finished fourth followed by Nicolas Prost (Renault e.dams), Robin Frijns (MS Amlin Andretti), Nelson Piquet Jr. (NextEV NIO), Tom Dillmann (Venturi, replacing Maro Engel who competed in DTM at Lausitzring), Mitch Evans (Panasonic Jaguar Racing) and Stéphane Sarrazin (Venturi), completing the top 10.
Having qualified 18th DS Virgin Racing’s Sam Bird had trouble to fight through the field. Nevertheless, the 30-year-old managed to secure a point, setting the fastest lap of the race.
Frijns, Gutiérrez and Dillmann all received a five-second penalty for speeding under Full Course Yellow. The trio crossed the line in sixth, eighth and eleventh respectively.
Being the sixth race of the season, the ePrix in the French Capital marked the halfway of the season. The first out of three double-header will take place in Berlin in about two weeks, on 10th and 11th June.