Saturday’s free practice and qualifying proved encouraging, with Sebastien securing his second successive pole position by almost half a second and three points. Nico, meanwhile, would start from fifth on the grid.
A good getaway for both Renault e.dams drivers saw Sebastien retain the lead, while Nico was straight on the attack for a podium finish. The Frenchman displayed impressive race craft, fighting up the order to third position. However, what appears to be a software issue, perhaps due to the extreme temperatures in the car, forced him to pit earlier than expected. Once in his second car, he moved into the lead of the race.
But as Nico made his way to the pits, Sebastien’s Z.E.15 ground to a halt with the same problem. He was able to restart again shortly after, and return to the pits, to jump into his second car. The issue meant the Swiss had fallen to ninth, and his determination to move up the field saw him earn two extra points for the fastest lap of the race (1m22.748).
Unfortunately that wasn’t the end of the squad’s problems. Nico’s early stop meant that he had to prioritise energy conservation over pure pace, allowing the competition to pass him on the road. This left him 10th, claiming the final point on offer. A further systems failure for Sebastien scuppered his chances of a points-scoring finish and resulted in 12th for the Beijing ePrix victor.
Although disappointment was the principal outcome of the race, the team will look into the cause of the systems failure ahead of the next Formula E contest in Uruguay, taking comfort in the points scored so far in the championship.
Vincent Gaillardot, Renault Sport Formula E Project Leader : “This was clearly a much more challenging race than we had in Beijing. However, we must take the positives ; overall our performance and preparation was much improved and we still managed to show our outright pace during qualifying. The extremely hot conditions here in Malaysia revealed some temperature management issues as well as some kind of systems error, which caused both cars to stop unexpectedly during the race. Obviously this is something we will have to investigate further before Punta del Este.”
#8 Nico : “To be honest, I’m extremely frustrated this weekend. Things were looking good initially and I was in the fight for a podium position but then my engineers brought me in early to swap cars because of the high temperatures. The fact that this was the second issue for me in as many races means that we will have to look into it and find a solution before our next outing where I will be fighting for a better result.”
#9 Sebastien : “Nico and I seemed to have the same problem, stopping on the track and having to restart. The second part of the race was really difficult – I really had to try and recover after the first issue and that’s when I set the fastest lap. I did as much as possible after the car swap, made it up to a points-scoring position, and then the car stopped again. So, for me, it’s really important to identify the problems and overcome them as soon as possible.”
Alain Prost and Jean-Paul Driot, Senior Team Managers : “Obviously the result today is a huge disappointment for us. It’s important to remember that we still have two cars that performed very well, as was clear from qualifying. The issues we encountered will certainly be looked into but for the moment, it is difficult to understand exactly what happened. We will be looking into the problems with the relevant people and hopefully find a solution before we head to Punta del Este.”
1. Lucas di Grassi (ABT Schaeffler Audi Sport)
2. Sam Bird (DS Virgin Racing Formula E)
3. Robin Frijns (Andretti Formula E Race Team)
4. Stéphane Sarrazin (Venturi Formula E Team)
5. Bruno Senna (Mahindra Racing Formula E Team)
6. Antonio Felix da Costa (Team Aguri)
7. Daniel Abt (ABT Schaeffler Audi Sport)
8. Nelson Piquet Jr. (NEXTEC TCR Formula E Team)
9. Nick Heidfeld (Mahindra Racing Formula E Team)
10. Nico Prost (Renault e.dams)
11. Jacques Villeneuve (Venturi Formula E Team)
12. Sébastien Buemi (Renault e.dams)