The season 4 of the FIA Formula E Championship started this weekend. Hong Kong set the scene for the eagerly anticipated opening round but after a poor qualifying session and a dramatic race that led to the first ever red flag at the end of lap 1 meant, it made it mission impossible to reach the podium.
The day started on a high for Sébastien and Nicolas though as the Swiss driver topped the timesheets in Free Practice 1 with a laptime of 1:03.310 while his teammate finished sixth. Both drivers got 52 laps under their belt with their new racing power of 180kW instead of 170kW. However, it was not the same story during Free Practice 2 as Sébastien ended 19th - a yellow flag due to a VENTURI car stopped on track prevented Sébastien in doing his 200kW lap. Nicolas ended 9th.
Despite his best efforts, Sébastien couldn’t do better than ninth position in Qualifying Group 1, while Nico in Group 4 had a dramatic one. On his flying lap, after setting a purple first sector, the Frenchman hit the wall, dragging a damaged banner that sadly ended on Jérôme d’Ambrosio’s car who was also on his flying lap. This meant Nicolas started the first race of the double-header down in 18th.
After a clean start and a safe Turn 1 for both drivers, André Lotterer hit the wall creating a chain of cars stuck behind him (including Nicolas) which brought the first ever red flag in Formula E. All cars were called back into the pitlane. After a few minutes waiting for a decision from the FIA to work out what order the cars should be, the race resumed under the safety car. The team were hoping for a great recovery, but unfortunately technical and radio issues meant the Swiss driver was unable to finish better than 11th. From the back of the field, Nico managed to fight through the pack and crossed the finish line in ninth, grabbing two points for the championships.
Following this eventful race, both drivers and the team will work hard to come back stronger tomorrow and hopefully return to the top spot.
Alain Prost, co-owner of the team
“The race was a bit complicated. We didn’t know very well where we would be in terms of performance, but we could have done better to optimize our potential. Qualifying saw Sébastien set a lap time while Nicolas made a mistake despite being very fast. Everything can be improved on but this first day has taught us many things and we will do our best to be back on top tomorrow.”
Vincent Gaillardot, FE Program Leader
“The objective of this first race was to establish where we would be in terms of performance. Unfortunately, we didn’t collect all of the information that we wanted because qualifying was a bit dramatic. During the race, we hoped for a great recovery from both drivers and targeted the points but because of technical issues, we couldn’t achieve this. This is our job to resolve these problems to reach our full potential amongst our competition.”
Sébastien Buemi, #9
“In the end, it was a difficult first day. We had a good part of the race before I broke down after the car swap. I had to reset the car and I lost precious time. We also had some technical issues. It’s good to see that we are close to the competition and we will work hard to come back on top next race.”
Nico Prost, #8
“Without the mistake I made in qualifying, I think we could have be in SuperPole. I had good pace and I was fast. Even if there had been this incident at the end of lap 1, we didn’t do any mistakes and I managed to fight through the pack to tenth. It wasn’t the result we hoped for, but it was a solid race and it’s better than nothing. Tomorrow is another day and we’ll do better.”