Sebastien Buemi wins Marrakech ePrix
Swiss driver continues 100% start to season
Virgin Racing's Sam Bird finishes second
Felix Rosenqvist takes third in his second race
Sebastien Buemi continued his perfect start to the 2016/17 Formula E world championship with an emphatic win at the Marrakech ePrix on Saturday.
The Renault eDams followed up victory at the opening race on the streets of Hong Kong with another dominant drive at the Circuit Automobile Moulay El Hassan.
Buemi started down in seventh after he was handed a five-place grid penalty for running with an underweight fire extinguisher during qualifying, but ultimately it was no setback for the reigning world champion.
By the halfway point – where drivers pit to switch to another fully charged car – the Swiss was up to third with just Techeetah’s Jean Eric Vergne and race leader Felix Rosenqvist ahead of him.
And with Vergne picking up a drive-through penalty for speeding in the pit lane during the race, Buemi was soon left with just Rosenqvist to chase down.
The Swede, who replaced Bruno Senna at Mahindra Racing in the summer, had taken pole earlier in the day in only his second ePrix but was powerless as Buemi bared down on him in the latter stages of the race.
With six laps to go, Buemi’s superior Renault eDams power train prevailed as he reeled in the rookie driver before taking the checkered flag with room to spare.
Rosenqvist would also be passed by Virgin Racing’s Sam Bird before the finish, but the Swede was delighted with third place – Mahindra’s second podium of the season following Nick Heidfeld’s third place finish in Hong Kong.
“A podium is more than I could expect,” Rosenqvist said. “I think we are right up there. We are really much better than the team was last year and it’s really cool to be part of it.”
Buemi’s teammate Nico Prost ended up finishing fourth ahead of ABT Schaeffler Audi Sport’s Lucas di Grassi, the runner up in last season’s drivers’ championship.
Vergne’s time penalty helped relegate the Frenchman to eighth behind Di Grassi’s teammate Daniel Abt and NextEV’s Oliver Turvey who placed six and seventh respectively.
Buemi’s win sees him extend his lead at the top of the standings. The Swiss now has 50 points with Di Grassi trailing by 22 points in second and Prost a further four points back.
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The first Formula E race on African soil coincided with the United Nations Climate Change Conference – which is being held in Marrakech from November 7-18 – and it fell to COP22 president Salaheddine Mezouar to hand Buemi the winner’s trophy.
The teams and drivers now take an extended break before the next race in Buenos Aires – the third ePrix of the season takes place on February 18 2017.