Anti-climactic end to second Formula E season

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The second Formula E title was decided in bizarre circumstances on Sunday. The championship rivals went into the race tied on points but a first-lap collision between the pair dropped both out of contention in the race, leaving them to battle over the points on offer for fastest lap.

Elsewhere there was heartbreak in the World Rally Championship and NASCAR produced another ‘big one’ at Daytona.

Formula E

Races 9 and 10 of 10: London

Lucas di Grassi, Formula E, London, 2016
Di Grassi hit Buemi in race two
The 2015-16 Formula E championship came to an anti-climactic end in the second double-header race in London on Sunday.

Saturday’s race was a real nail-biter as title contenders Lucas di Grassi and Sebastien Buemi edged their way forwards having qualified mid-pack due to a rain shower. The took the flag fourth and fifth, leaving Buemi ahead by three points.

Buemi drew level with his rival by taking the points for pole position on Sunday, and with team mate Nicolas Prost separating him from di Grassi on the grid his chances looked strong. But at turn one Di Grassi slammed into the rear of his championship rival, claiming he had braked too early.

Both dragged their damaged cars back to the pits and with their chances of scoring points in the race now remote, the points available for fastest lap could settle the outcome. As Buemi’s eDams Renault has clearly been the quicker car over a single lap, with four pole positions to Abt’s none, the outcome was a foregone conclusion. Buemi duly set the fastest lap and collected the points and title, despite finishing 17 laps down.

Sebastien Buemi, Formula E, London, 2016
Buemi switched cars and set fastest lap
While the title fight reached an unsatisfactory conclusion, Prost cruised to win by 7.6 seconds in a race interrupted by no fewer than three Safety Car periods. Daniel Abt and Jean-Eric Vergne followed him home, but the latter was penalised for exceeding the energy usage limit, promoting Jerome D’Ambrosio to third.

Afterwards Buemi revealed his disappointment at how the championship had been decided: “I’m actually to win it in that way, but also to see what Lucas did because I was very respectful of his driving, he’s been amazing. Like he’s said many times, his car is very bad and he is a very good driver, and if he was in my car he’d be at least half a second quicker.”

“He’s a great driver, he did 24 hours in Le Mans, he never touched a car. He went between Nico and the wall, and I could tell you there was maybe five centimetres and once he braked, I just saw on the camera, he has two options – either go to the right or nail the back of my car and he nailed it perfectly. But a little bit too strong because we both went out.”

“I’m a bit sad to see this because I think that was his only opportunity. In the end we had the quickest car, we were the best team. If we could’ve come out of this corner in front of him, we would’ve been far quicker.”

On Monday Di Grassi tweeted: “I wake up today sad but proud. I took FIA FE championship fight, with an inferior car and [Mexico] win stripped away, decided on fast lap points.”

World Rally Championship

Round 7 of 14: Poland

Andreas Mikkelsen picked up his second ever victory but only after heartbreak for Ott Tanak on the penultimate stage of the rally cost the M-Sport driver what would have been a shock maiden victory.

The soft gravel roads – and lowly starting order – played to the advantage of Tanak’s tyres, and he took the rally lead midway through Friday, building his advantage to just under twenty seconds over Mikkelsen and Hayden Paddon before the final two stages on Sunday.

There was to be no dream result however, as a puncture on the penultimate stage cost Tanak nearly forty seconds, and cruelly denied the clearly devastated Estonian. Mikkelsen took the win ahead of Tanak – who still secured his best finish – with Paddon just holding onto third on the final stage.

Running first on the road once again hampered Sebastien Ogier, and though the world champion did pick up all three power stage points, his rally will more likely be remembered for consoling – and quite literally picking up – the desperate Tanak.

“Heart broken is the first word that comes to mind,” reflected Tanak afterwards. “Second is determined. We will do it one day.”


Race 17 of 36: Daytona

Brad Keselowski took the win in the Coke Zero 400 at Daytona – in a race heavily affected by numerous accidents including the infamous ‘Big One’ – avoiding the carnage by leading 115 of the 161 lap race. With a four car wreck on lap 155, the race went into ‘overtime’, and Keselowski beat off challenges from Kyle Busch and Trevor Bayne as his Penske team-mate Joey Logano bump drafted him to the front of the pack with one lap to go.

World Rallycross Championship

Race 6 of 12: Sweden

There was drama aplenty on the opening day as Mattias Ekstrom, Petter Solberg, Timmy Hansen and Andreas Bakkerud all suffered problems during qualifying one – with the world champion eventually failing to make the final for the first time since Turkey last season.

Bakkerud took the joker lap on the opening tour and immediately closed back up on the leaders, cycling back through to the front when Sebastien Loeb and Hansen eventually took the joker themselves. Hansen applied pressure but Bakkerud held on for his second consecutive win, while a problem for Hansen at the final corner handed second to Loeb, while championship leader Ekstrom could only manage sixth and last in the final.


Race 6 of 12: Watkins Glen

Video not available yet

Christian Fittipaldi and Joao Barbosa shared victory in their Mustang, Barbosa crossing the line just seven-tenths of a second ahead of the sister car of Dane Cameron and Eric Curran.

Also last weekend

Lewis Hamilton closed on Nico Rosberg after the championship-contending Mercedes drivers clashed on the final lap in Austria.

The GP2 championship remains wide open and is now led by Raffaele Marciello who is yet to finish in the top two this year. Saturday’s race was red-flagged after Artem Markelov crashed into the pit lane exit under Safety Car conditions, which helped the Campos pair take a surprise win, led by Mitch Evans. Jordan King won Sunday’s race, managing his tyres to perfection on a drying track.

In GP3 Charles Leclerc repeated his form from Spain, winning the opening race and failing to score in the second. Heavy rain on Sunday meant race two was mostly run behind the Safety Car, though during the brief moments of green flag running Ralph Boschung found his way to the front to claim his maiden victory.

Over to you

What racing action did you watch last weekend? Let us know in the comments.

Next weekend Formula One, GP2 and GP3 head to Silverstone. Outside Europe both IndyCar and NASCAR are racing on ovals – Iowa and Kentucky respectively – and Australian Supercars have a double-header at Townsville.

Thanks to Robert Mathershaw (@Mathers) for contributing to this article.

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32 comments on “Anti-climactic end to second Formula E season”

  1. petebaldwin (@)
    4th July 2016, 10:23

    So do we think Di Grassi did it deliberately then?

    1. The commenting team – or at least all ex drivers on that team (Priestley said he would want to give DiGrassi a bit of benefit of the doubt) were all sure he did. And off course Buemi himself too (and Nico Prost as well). One thing Buemi mentioned doesn’t quite fit the picture though as far as i can see – he claimed to have braked very late, later than normal (which from the footage clearly was the opposite of what he actually did, braking quite early). DiGrassi was not accelerating, but on the other hand I got the impression that after he was next to Prost, he got on the brakes maybe as much as Rosberg did turn in!

      But the whole charade afterwards with the coming out in front of Buemi etc certainly did not make it any prettier @petebaldwin. Overall i was depressed by the championship fight ending like that (the points for things like pole and fastest lap deciding the championship AND the antics on track).

      1. @petebaldwin @bascb If Buemi would have failed to make it to the pits or set the fastest lap, F-E would be now know as the championship for “crashed on purpose” drivers.

        1. Used to happen in F1 all the time…

        2. The champioship was decided on 1.5kg. Is this any better?

  2. Anti-climactic?

    That was the best race I’ve seen in ages!

    1. @dh1996 But it wasn’t a race, You had 2 drivers sitting in the pits for large sections of it only going out when the other did driving around trying to set a fast lap.

      The whole thing was a total farce & made Formula E look utterly ridiculous.

      This is why there should be no points for pole positions or fastest laps, There gimmicks just like that other atrocity called fanboost.

      1. Yeah but it was better than the championship being decided on a first lap crash.

      2. When has giving out points for pole position and fastest lap become a gimmick?

    2. I think it was simply a poor choice of words on Keith’s part. It wasn’t anti-climactic because it was tense all the way to the last 2 laps. I was anxious to see who could do that last feat to snatch the championship. HOWEVER, I will agree it was a disappointing way for it to finished the season. But it certainly wasn’t anti-climactic.

  3. @dh1996 Saturday’s race was excellent, one of the best I’ve seen in Formula E.

    Sunday barely qualified as a race, it was two guys doing a qualifying session in the middle of the race.

    1. Would you have preferred it to be resolved by a lap 1 crash? Surely that would have been worse. Arguably points for pole is the worse rule.

      1. While it would also have been a shame to see the championship decided by a crash, that is unfortunately always a possibility in racing. But you can avoid the silly way the championship was decided by not offering points for fastest lap in the first place.

        And I agree about points for pole, that’s a lousy rule too.

    2. Surely the additional points on offer for fastest lap reduce the incentive of trying to take someone out? ie here Buemi was able to get back to the pits laps down and out of the points but still win the championship whereas had that been F1 he would have been fair game and out of the points with no chance of winning the championship.

    3. And there wasn’t even a challenge given the superiority of Buemi’s car.

    4. I was there on Saturday. Great race and great event all round actually. We were stood by the chicanes, between T4 and T5 and it was quite impressive to see them carry the speed through there, particularly through the second chicane. Never thought I’d get to experience a race with Prost and Senna 1-2, so that was a novelty for somebody who only started watching F1 in 1998 post the Senna/Prost F1 era. Behind those two the racing was really good – nose-to-tail for the main part, with di Grassi making moves up the field and Buemi shadowing him all the way.

      The VISA radios they handed out were perfect so you could listen to the Jack Nicholls and Dario Franchitti commentary whilst watching all of the sessions and, coupled with them having plenty of screens around the track, it meant you never missed a moment of the action and we always knew what was happening at all times.

      The fan village had a lot going on so you wasn’t stuck bored when there was no track action between sessions (something that I was worried about when I saw the schedule, as there are no support races). Having the fan village was a big plus when you’ve dragged your fiancée along for the day! The live music on stage was good and gave the whole thing a bit of a summer festival atmosphere.

      The tents had a lot of interesting stuff in them too – especially for kids. The Inspire tent was geared up to be a bit of a “could you be a racing driver?” experience, with a wall of lights to test your reaction times, a weird G-Force chair that spun the kids around and upside down for them to feel the forces at work, as well as something which I can only describe as a dance mat like you would see in an arcade but hooked up to a racing game whereby the kids had to keep jumping on the dance mat to create enough energy to move the cars around the track in a race against each other.

      They had the BMW area showcasing some of their latest electric cars, as well as a remote control race track for you to put your RC skills to the test. There was the Renault e-Dams tent showcasing a Renault e-Dams Formula E car, as well as all of their trophies from Season 1 and their driver’s helmets. And Virgin had their own marquee, but I think that might have been for Virgin staff/members only? Not sure.

      Finally, the post race ceremonies were brilliant with the cars driving into the fan village. Anybody who watched on the TV would have seen the raised platform walkway up to the podium and you could get really close to the action here. It was great seeing Nico Prost, Bruno Senna and Jean-Eric Vergne celebrating along the platform and interacting with all of us in the crowd on their way up to collect their trophies.

      I’ve never been to an F1 race so I have no comparison there – only to F3/GT races at Silverstone and Rockingham – but I have to say this was the best motorsport event I’ve been to so far, especially given the cost of the tickets was so cheap! It’s a shame they’re not visiting Battersea Park again but I hope they find another suitable venue in London for next year as I would highly recommend it to anybody on here and particularly those who are into motorsports but have a family to think of – just make sure you turn a blind eye to ‘fanboost’ ;)

  4. Audi has a long-standing history of cheating in motorsport. In my eyes, there is absolutely no reason to doubt it was intentional by di Grassi. Thankfully, even though it ended up being farcial, the FLAP points allowed Buemi to prevent this injustice from happening. Audi once more get karma in form of losing, although quite frankly, they should have excluded di Grassi from the series for life or at the very least the entire next season.

    1. Except the Audi has race pace, compared with the qualifying pace of the Renault. It would be of no benefit for Di Grassi to cause the collision, and have the title settled on fastest lap points rather than race position.

      1. Of course it would be of benefit to him, had he done it right and actually taken Buemi out. If a driver doesn’t even finish the first lap, he is not gonna score a FLAP.

    2. The only injustice here is Di Grassi, a far better driver on an worst car, losing the champioship because of 1.5kg. He felt injusticed I can assure you, and angry people do stupid things. Buemi doens’t deserve the champioship.

  5. The only thing did deliberately is the steal of mexico win from Di Grassi because of 1.5kg, a simple punishment of 10 or 20s would be enough and fair. It should be an easy champioship for him, he is far far better than Buemi and would have won with a very inferior car. I understand Di Grassi even if he did it on purpose, true champions don’t easily accept things the way they are.

    1. Hahahahaha steal? The guy used a car 1,5kg lighter than the others. This is a ridiculous advantage for him. The were absolutely right to DSQ him.

      1. 1.5kg isn’t even the weight difference between pilots. 10seconds or 20seconds punishment is OK, but being declassified? Absolutely not. FE is going to be ridiculous about rules to make the people they want to win, just like F1.

  6. In the early years of GP2 drivers long behind used to take fresher set of tyres in order to set the fastest lap. As a result, the rule change was made that the points will go to the driver who sets the fastest lap among the top 10 drivers, which meant to end of the previous tactic.
    Something like that may be in order for Formula E too. This year, the final position of driver with fastest lap were: 1-12-1-16-3-16-12-15-14-Ret. In each case of podium finisher getting FL, it was one of e.DAMS drivers.

  7. Just one quick correction on the IMSA race Fittipaldi and Barbosa drive a Corvette DP that is sponsored by Mustang Sampling, not a Mustang car. Yes, I know it is a little confusing.

  8. Having attended last years formula e race at Bettersea Park on a general admission ticket I had decided not to go this year based on:
    * Very limited viewing from flat ground behind other people and barriers (not an issue on the banks of Paddock Hill at Brands for example).
    * Far too much waiting around with nothing to see as a support paddock cannot be accommodated in such a venue (3 hours between the end of quali and start of the race!).
    * Lack of screens to be able to see the action.
    * Limited things to see and do in the much hyped E-Village.
    I did however go because I was offered tickets to a ‘gold’ stand on the main straight near turn 1. Whilst the addition of a pair of screens and slightly elevated position improved what we could see, the fact of the matter is that a £72.80 ticket, £12 travelcard, overpriced food and drink pushing the per head cost to around £100 do not justify a 33 lap/55 minute race being the only racing on show. This was of course made worse by P2 being cancelled due to an issue with charging systems.
    I would like to be on record as saying that the perception of speed of the cars going into turn 1 was exciting at times when they were at full power in qualifying and I have no issue with the sound as track-side it really does match the futuristic appeal of the series, but the shortcomings mean I will not pay to go and see this series in its current guise again.
    This series desperately needs to be able to compete on proper circuits, with a full support paddock and have more sensible ticket pricing. I appreciate that the speed of the cars and longevity of the batteries are a huge barrier to this as well as the desire to have the races in big cities for reasons of exposure etc. But the fact remains that as a racing fan I want to see more racing and more of the circuit for my admission price.

    1. Silver grandstand tickets were £35 each, about the same as General Admission to Brands Hatch I think. And with all the screens around the circuit and the free radios i think it’s pretty damn good value for money. Saw some great GA spots as well, around the 4/5 and 6/7 chicanes. Food isn’t that expensive compared to your typical outdoor event and you can even go via public transport.

      Yes it was a shame that there aren’t support races but there’s tons to do around the circuit in between sessions. And it’s not so crowded that that you need to grab a spot in the unreserved areas at least two-three hours early like most F1 races. Roborace next year, whatever that will be.

      Been two years in a row and I’m really hoping they find another venue in London for 2017. Failing that, a trip to Monaco might be in order – doubt I’d ever afford to go for the GP!

  9. “Christian Fittipaldi and Joao Barbosa shared victory in their Mustang”
    Uh… I assume you meant Corvette DP? Unless I have totally missed a major development in IMSA lately.

    1. I wonder if they’ve ever asked their sponsor to change their name. ‘Mustang Special powered by Chevy’ gets confusing. Lol

  10. I don’t understand. Buemi was 3 points ahead after the first race, got even more points for pole and somehow di Grassi would win the championship on countback after the they crashed?

    1. Di Grassi was three points ahead going into the race. So then Buemi got the points to make them even after qualifying. Just a typo.

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