Browse By

Sebastien Buemi, Lucas di Grassi take championship battle to the wire after dramatic 2017 Montreal ePrix

In Swahili we say : Siku ya nyani kufa, miti yote huteleza.  In recent literature, popular and scientific, sucess is said to be down to pure luck. Day one of the 2017 Montreal ePrix, Sebastien Buemi of  Renault e.dams, ran out of luck like the proverbial monkey in that Swahili saying.

Lucas di Grassi celebrates winning round 11 of the montreal ePrix to set up a nail bitting championship two way fight with defending champion Sebastien Buemi

2016/2017 FIA Formula E Championship. Round 11 – Montreal ePrix, Canada. Saturday 29 July 2017. Winner Lucas Di Grassi (BRA), ABT Schaeffler Audi Sport, Spark-Abt Sportsline, ABT Schaeffler FE02, sprays the champagne on the podium. Photo: Sam Bloxham/LAT/Formula E ref: Digital Image _J6I5773

Round 11 2016/2017 FIA Formula E Championship: Welcome to the Sebastien Buemi show

[dropcap]L[/dropcap]ucas Di Grassi won on the day, but it was Sebastien Buemi who stole the show.  We delve into what was the Sebastien Buemi four part series: The crash, the points deduction and loss of Julius Baer Pole Position, the fight back and finally the melt down.

damage to the car reveals extent of the Sebastien Buemi crasg

2016/2017 FIA Formula E Championship. Round 11 – Montreal ePrix, Canada Saturday 29 July 2017. The car of Sebastien Buemi (SUI), Renault e.Dams, Spark-Renault, Renault Z.E 16, is returned to the pits after his crash. Photo: Andrew Ferraro/LAT/Formula E ref: Digital Image _FER3294

Part one of the Sabastien Buemi show: The crash

There is the obvious:

That was a huge crash. Though the speeds pale in comparison to Formula one, it still is not uncommon for lives to be lost at Formula E range speeds (80 to 100 Kph). Especially if you are crashing in a light weight fiber glass bodied electric car.  The damage on the car -ripped front right and left suspensions and nose- attest to the humongous impact.

Then not so obvious:

That the French racing team, Renault e.dams, winners of back to back team titles, reconstructed the car so well in just under five hours. Well enough to allow Sebastien Buemi launch an almost improbable comeback. Consider that Sebastian Buemi’s car had an integral part, it’s monocoque,  damaged.  If anything that reconstruction work vouches for their credentials as the team to beat in the FIA Formula E championship.Kudos to Renault e.dams and Buemi.


Part 2 : Amidst destruction, like a phoenix, the beauty of Formula rose from the ashes of Buemi’s crash

[dropcap]I[/dropcap]n our wide ranging in depth review of the New York City ePrix, the race that sold us on to Formula E, we exulted the beauty of electric street racing. We pointed out that it lay not in the sleek cars , handsome men driving them or Kate Upton hotness level fans. Instead, it lay in its quest for sustainable transportation alongside man’s need for speed.

The Formula E logo. The handling of the Sebastian Buemi debacle in Monreal must be a big plus for the FIA

If Formula E achieves its stated aims, what a feat that would be. Dare I say, even befitting of a Nobel Peace Prize.

That Formula E was keen to avoid the temptation of another mad dash to be first is admirable.  In the 21st century globalized market place, a technology arms race is a more strategic option for companies. This is because the financial rewards of any propriety technology relevant to the fourth industrial revolution is likely to be gargantuan.

The risk of course is that, in the race for profits, people are at risk of being used a means to an end.  A situation that has been a grave concern for practitioners of  AI ethics, as captured in the Asilomar AI Principles.

That indeed Formula E’s approach of creating an ecosystem where science ( cutting edge technology of the cars) interacted in a reflexive manner with both its products  i.e technology  ( e.g the Montreal It’s Electric)  and its consumers ( Formula E fans who come for the entertainment) should be lauded.

Formula E models the 21st century

Key to why I recently become a Formula E convert was to get a front row seat to observe and draw lessons from this model of the relationship between science, technology and society. Nothing speaks to this resolve by Formula E, to modelling the future  as the penalty imposed on Sebastien Buemi for a battery change following his huge crash.

In there lies a poignant yet  subtle message of Formula E’s environmental conservation efforts.

Each team is allowed one ‘joker’ battery change per season, Buemi played this card in Berlin and thus must take a 10-place drop, so he will start from 12th.

First, the teams are being incentivized, through penalties, to improve battery life. Doing so is likely to yield technologies that will make sustainable energy viable. This is because green energy is impossible without robust power storage mechanisms. Then there is also the matter of e-waste build up if thoughtlessness had been the norm.

Part three of The Sebastien Buemi Show: The fight back

[dropcap]F[/dropcap]irst , you have to realize that Sebastien Buemi did not participate in the previous two rounds, 9 and 11 in Brooklyn, New York City thanks to a clash with the World Endurance Championship . In the WEC Buemi races for Toyota and contractual obligations stood in the way. In what turned out to be a race made for DS Virgin Racing’s  Sam Bird, Buemi’s  closet rival Lucas DiGrassi Brazillian of driver of the Abt Schaeffler Audi Sport team, capitalized on his absence by clawing back 22 points.

Sebastian Buemi fights back by taking on the field

2016/2017 FIA Formula E Championship. Round 11 – Montreal ePrix, Canada Saturday 29 July 2017. Sebastien Buemi (SUI), Renault e.Dams, Spark-Renault, Renault Z.E 16, leads Daniel Abt (GER), ABT Schaeffler Audi Sport, Spark-Abt Sportsline, ABT Schaeffler FE02, and Jerome D’Ambrosio (BEL), Dragon Racing, Spark-Penske, Penske 701-EV. Photo: Sam Bloxham/LAT/Formula E ref: Digital Image _W6I5813

However in spite of missing out on the chance to rack up points and blow the competition out of the water, Sebastein Buemi still held a ten point lead in the FIA Formula E championship entering the penultimate and ultimate rounds in this weekend’s Hydro- Quebec Montreal ePrix.

Claw back: Sebastien refuses to go relinquish title without a fight

The Sebastien Buemi claw back begun with an impressive 1:23.065 to emerge second for Super Pole. However, it wasn’t enough as  rival Lucas di Grassi recovered late on to better his time and take the Julius Baer Pole Position.

Taking pole earned the Brazilian three points therefore cutting Buemi’s lead to just seven points. Further, for changing his battery outside the allowed once per season following the damaging crash is practice session 2, Sebastien Buemi had to swallow a 10 position penalty,

That meant Sebastien Buemi had to eat up the field from 12th position. Try and finish within the points positions at worst so as not to relinquish the 2016/2017 FIA Formula E without a fight. And boy, did he fight! First up Buemi took 15th position from Maro Engel, FIA GT World Champion, Nurburgring 24H Winner, who’s driving for Venturi Formula E.

Final installation of The Sebastian Buemi Show: The meltdown

[dropcap]s[/dropcap]eemingly frustrated by the day, Buemi was captured on TV literally picking fights with whomever. Watching the video, to me, it felt like a scene from WWE. For all the trash talk on the quality of acting in professional wrestling, it must be said that the terrible acting is  terribly effective.

If you listen on, the commentator alludes to this by mentioning that the Sebastian Buemi  show did feel like reality Tv. Which I agree.  Choreographed or not, that was what it means when a sport is close to its fans. As we had experienced in the 2017 New York City ePrix, the immersive experience of Formula E will go a long way in making electric street racing a hit with motor sports fans





Join the conversation by leaving a comment.