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Punta del Este Post-Race Notebook

Sam Smith’s post-race notebook after a thrilling Punta del Este E-Prix…

Photo: Formula E

***Points leader Jean-Eric Vergne has discounted his title advantage as “not too significant at this stage”. The Techeetah driver extended his lead to 30 points over Felix Rosenqvist with his 28-point haul at Punta del Este yesterday. “As we saw last year Seb (Buemi) had a big [points] advantage and still lost out in the championship,” said Vergne.

***Vergne has almost gone a calendar year of finishing in points-scoring positions. The last time he failed to claim points was at last season’s Paris E-Prix. Since then he has taken 186 points from 12 races, an average of 15.5 per race.

***Lucas di Grassi said that the nature of the Punta del Este circuit contributed to the stalemate between himself and Jean-Eric Vergne throughout the race despite concerted efforts for the Brazilian to find a way through. “At a track like this with so many chicanes and not braking in a straight-line it is super difficult. I really tried my best though,” he said.

***Sebastien Buemi blamed himself for the incident which effectively ended his race on lap 10. The Renault e.dams driver ran wide while challenging Daniel Abt’s fourth placed Audi. “When I moved out of the line a tiny bit I completely lost the car,” Buemi told e-racing365. “I touched the wall and we were done. My fault.”

***The Audi Sport ABT Schaeffler team is investigating how Daniel Abt’s belts came undone after his pit stop. The FIA confirmed his harness was secured as he left his pit box but subsequently worked loose on his second lap. Abt pitted immediately to have them re-fastened which dropped him out of contention.

***Jose Maria Lopez scored five points after finishing eighth and also setting the fastest lap. The Dragon Racing driver made significant progress in the race after he was shuffled back to 18th place on the grid due to his tyre pressure reading between 1.50 and 1.53 bar which is below the minimum allowance of 1.60 bar.

***Alex Lynn’s day was compromised by an issue in the second phase of the race which saw him fade to sixth position after running a comfortable fourth. The DS Virgin Racing team is confident the issue, which is believed to be climate-induced, will be addressed for the European leg of the championship which begins with the Rome E-Prix next month.

***Antonio Felix da Costa said an aborted gamble to extend his strategy backfired after the Andretti team decided to pit on lap 19 instead of 20 in the race. “We were going to go to 20 but then we had to revert and we lost time as I think we could have finished maybe eighth maximum,” Da Costa told e-racing365. “We do this together and today it just didn’t work out for us. But we are also building for the future with BMW so we take these things and learn from it all.”

***Several drivers had their races compromised by early race contact, with Andre Lotterer, Nelson Piquet Jr. and Edoardo Mortara all suffering from damaged cars in the first phase of the race. Piquet struggled with his brake bias and tagged a wall in the opening laps which contributed towards a broken driveshaft.

***Jerome d’Ambrosio and Lopez are set to get seat time in the new Season Five car in the first manufacturer group test at Monteblanco later this month. Dragon aims to run on both days with track time available on Monday, March 26 and Wednesday, March 28.

***Like Dragon, e.dams is planning to have both its drivers Nicolas Prost and Sebastien Buemi attending the test. The team is currently still being overseen by longtime DAMS employee Francois Sicard as Team Principal Jean-Paul Driot recovers from an illness. Driot is expected to attend some of the European rounds this season.

***The stewards rescinded their original decision to penalize Edoardo Mortara for changing chassis after a shakedown incident on Friday. They “gave the permission to change the chassis for safety reasons because a sufficient repair of the chassis is not possible in Punta del Este”.

***The Monegasque team though must get the damaged chassis evaluated and repaired at Dallara before the Berlin race in May. Should the survival cell be repaired it then has to be used from the German round onwards.

***Sam Bird dedicated his third place to well-known broadcaster and journalist Henry Hope-Frost who lost his life in a road traffic accident in the UK last week. “There was a lot of fever out there today and I think he’d have been pretty happy with the driving out there today.”

***E-racing365 is delighted to welcome renowned broadcaster and commentator Bob Varsha to its fold as an occasional commentator. The American has been a familiar and respected voice in racing for over 30 years and will file his first column next week.

***Lucas di Grassi was fined €10,000 ($12,300) and had three penalty points administered after he was found guilty of using an item of clothing which did not conform to the International Sporting Code. “After checking the clothes, helmet and FHR of the driver it was found that the driver wear (sic) short flamed-resistant underwear pants which are not allowed by the ISC. The driver apologized.”

Sam Smith is e-racing365's Formula E Editor. A 20-year veteran in motorsports media, including press officer roles in both the FIA Sportscar Championship and at Lola Group, Smith is a well-known face in the Formula E paddock, where he served as series editor for Motorsport.com from 2014-17. Contact Sam

2 Comments

2 Comments

  1. Leigh

    March 20, 2018 at 2:59 pm

    Wow… no mention for Mitch ??? Drive of the day contender

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