Sébastien Buemi has extended his championship lead by taking a commanding victory from pole in the 2017 Monaco ePrix.
The Swiss driver came into the event with much to prove, following a difficult last round in Mexico City, and immediately reestablished himself by topping both practice sessions before becoming the season’s fifth different polesitter in as many races.
From there, he rarely had cause to look back—a good start off the line saw off any challenge into Sainte Devote from front row rival Lucas di Grassi, and over the course of the opening stint he set about building up a five-second gap back to the rest of the pack.
Behind Buemi, Mexico City winner di Grassi settled into a rhythm in second place, whilst third became a hotly-contested duel between Nelson Piquet and Jean-Éric Vergne. Maro Engel, who qualified an impressive fifth in Venturi’s home ePrix, lost out to Nick Heidfeld at the start, as did Heidfeld’s teammate Felix Rosenqvist. Further back, Stéphane Sarrazin stalled on the grid and fell to the back of the field.
Piquet and Vergne continued to fight for position right from the off, but as the race approached its halfway mark their battle was brought to an abrupt halt.
Vergne had been making several attempts to pass Piquet around the outside of the Nouvelle Hairpin and appeared to finally make the move stick on lap 21, only to make contact with the NextEV on the exit of the corner and be forced into the barriers.
Piquet was able to continue on back to the pits, albeit after losing third place to Heidfeld, but Vergne’s race was over—to make matters worse, the Frenchman also picked up an injury to his right hand, which could hurt his chances in next weekend’s Paris ePrix.
Their accident triggered a safety car, which in turn caused a flurry of action in the pits as the entire field stopped within the first few neutralised laps.
On lap 26 the race resumed, and Buemi launched into a second’s advantage over di Grassi almost straight away. But this time, the Renault driver was unable to leave his main rival completely in his mirrors, and in the closing laps di Grassi managed to slash the gap down to mere tenths.
However, despite forcing Buemi to defend through the Swimming Pool complex on the final lap, di Grassi was unable to find a way through and prevent Buemi taking his fourth victory in five races.
Nick Heidfeld finished some thirteen seconds behind in the third place he inherited from Nelson Piquet, taking his second podium of the season, whilst Piquet himself recovered from his contact with Vergne to take fourth.
Maro Engel fought off a resolute challenge from Felix Rosenqvist to cross the line in fifth, his best result in Formula E so far. Daniel Abt battled his way into the top ten after a disappointing qualifying to finish seventh, and Esteban Gutiérrez continued his profitable start in Formula E by taking four points in eighth, somewhat consoling Techeetah for Vergne’s retirement.
António Félix da Costa originally returned Andretti to the points for the first time since Hong Kong by finishing ninth, but was penalised for an unsafe release and dropped back to eleventh in the final classification. This promoted Nico Prost to ninth, and gifted the final point to Jaguar’s Mitch Evans.
Dragon and DS Virgin both endured torrid afternoons with both of their respective duos joining Vergne in retirement, although Sam Bird did manage to bring home a single point for his team by setting the fastest lap.
James Matthews, Deputy Editor