The Long Beach circuit hosted the sixth ePrix of the FIA Formula E Championship season and the final round in the Americas. In California, the drivers produced unprecedented performance levels in their Spark-Renault SRT01_E race cars, setting new benchmarks for pole position and the fastest race lap in the all-electric series. Thirty-five years after his father won in Formula 1 at Long Beach, Nelson Piquet (China Racing) claimed victory, ahead of Jean-Eric Vergne (Andretti) and Lucas di Grassi (Audi Sport Abt).
The curtain came down on the American leg of the FIA Formula E Championship’s world tour in California, one of the USA’s pioneering states in terms of innovation in alternative energies. Whilst preparing for the challenge of competing against rival manufacturers in the second season of the series, Renault Sport once again showed the quality of the work done on the Spark-Renault SRT_01E race cars.
The single-seaters, the architecture of which was supervised by the French manufacturer, produced some stunning performances on an uneven track, featuring several changes in surface.
Sébastien Buemi (e.dams-Renault) grabbed pole position in qualifying, before being penalised for running with energy levels above the authorised limit. Daniel Abt (Audi Sport Abt) was therefore promoted to pole position, setting a new series record for the fastest average speed in qualifying of 134.7kph.
Third on the starting grid, Nelson Piquet surged into the lead at the first corner. In spite of two safety car periods, the Brazilian managed to hold onto the lead, only relinquishing control briefly to Bruno Senna (Mahindra Racing) when the drivers came into the pits to change cars. The battle behind the leader was tense and highly-charged, as Jean-Eric Vergne took advantage of the pit stops to overtake Daniel Abt, who picked up a penalty for excessive energy consumption.
The sixth winner in as many ePrix, Nelson Piquet was joined on the podium by Jean-Eric Vergne and Lucas di Grassi. Thanks to his third place finish, di Grassi reclaimed the championship lead by one point from the day’s winner. In the teams’ standings, e.dams-Renault still leads the way.
As a curtain-raiser to the main ePrix, large crowds had come to meet the drivers at the autograph-signing session. Meanwhile, Jennifer Nunez created a little history in becoming the first woman to win a Formula E School Series race, securing the honours for Millikin High School as she beat drivers from five other Long Beach and Santa Barbara schools.
The FIA Formula E Championship now heads back across the Atlantic to Europe. The next round of the series will be held on 9 May in Monaco.
Jean-Pascal Dauce, Director of Motorsport, Renault Sport Technologies: “We have been very warmly welcomed by the organisers. The fans have turned up in large numbers and there were a lot of people both in the stands and in the eVillage! We had a great contest at this fine racing arena, with some great battles and overtaking moves. Reliability was not an issue once again, which is very pleasing for us at Renault Sport. Congratulations to Nelson Piquet for his win today! With our partners, e.dams-Renault, we are slightly disappointed. We still need to work out the source of the problem related to Sébastien’s penalty, but it just goes to shows that all the drivers and teams are treated equally and fairly. Nico wasn’t comfortable in the first car and felt he was trapped in the clash with Jérôme d’Ambrosio, which led to a drive-through penalty.”
1. Nelson Piquet (China Racing) 39 laps
2. Jean-Eric Vergne (Andretti) +1.705
3. Lucas di Grassi (Audi Sport Abt) +2.994
4. Sébastien Buemi (e.dams-Renault) +3.518
5. Bruno Senna (Mahindra Racing) +8.844
6. Jérôme d’Ambrosio (Dragon Racing) +13.460
7. Antonio Felix da Costa (Amlin Aguri) +16.171
8. Jaime Alguersuari (Virgin Racing) +17.975
9. Loïc Duval (Dragon Racing) +18.436
10. Stéphane Sarrazin (Venturi) +20.418
Fastest lap: Nicolas Prost (e.dams-Renault) 58.973
1. Lucas di Grassi (Audi Sport Abt), 75 points
2. Nelson Piquet Jr (China Racing), 74
3. Nicolas Prost (e.dams-Renault), 69
4. Sébastien Buemi (e.dams-Renault), 55
5. Sam Bird (Virgin Racing), 52
6. Antonio Felix da Costa (Amlin Aguri), 43
7. Jérôme d’Ambrosio (Dragon Racing), 42
8. Jean-Eric Vergne (Andretti), 32
9. Jaime Alguersuari (Virgin Racing), 30
10. Bruno Senna (Mahindra Racing) 28
1. e.dams-Renault, 124 points
2. Audi Sport Abt, 97
3. Virgin Racing, 82
4. Andretti, 80
5. China Racing, 74
6. Dragon Racing, 66
7. Amlin Aguri, 46
8. Mahindra Racing, 46
9. Trulli, 12
10. Venturi, 9