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A difficult day for Renault e.dams. Both titles to be decided tomorrow

July 30, 2017

After a thrilling race but with mixed emotions, Renault e.dams remains on top of the standings with a 33-point advantage. However, after being disqualified from today’s race, Sébastien Buemi has lost his position at the head of the championship to title contender Lucas Di Grassi. He is now 18 points adrift – meaning everything is to play for in the final race of the season tomorrow.

The first non-qualifying practice of the Montreal weekend got underway under blue skies and sunny conditions. The session was trouble-free but when Seb Buemi used his full 200kw power, the championship leader hit traffic and backed off, ending the session fourth. Nico Prost finished one place adrift.   

The Frenchman set the fastest laptime in the second practice while team-mate Séb Buemi suffered a big crash by clipping the wall on the entry of the chicane and destroyed the front of his Renault e.dams car. The monocoque was damaged in the impact which meant the mechanics had five hours to rebuild a car for the Swiss driver to use in the race.

Nico Prost drew in the second qualifying group and went fifth fastest. Meanwhile, the battle was already on as Séb Buemi drew in Q3 with fellow title contenders Lucas Di Grassi and Felix Rosenqvist. Both drivers made it through to Super Pole with Nico setting the fourth fastest laptime and Seb the second. But a ten-place grid penalty for changing his battery saw him demoted down the order and started the race P12.

At lights out, both drivers had a poor start; Nico was trapped at Turn 1 and hit by a NextEv car which meant he dropped to sixth, while Séb struggled and dropped to P17. However, the championship leader was soon on a mission to fight for points and put his foot down and smartly overtook several drivers to move into the points ahead of the mandatory car swap. A full course yellow due to Heidfield stopping on track encouraged every driver to pit. Thanks to an impressive job by the team, the second car of Séb was ready on time. However, more drama happened at the end of the pit exit, as Daniel Abt hit the rear of Séb’s car.

Following the car change, Nico remained in sixth, while Seb moved up to eighth. He was soon seventh after he overtook Oliver Turvey. On lap 21, Nico successfully passed Evans for fifth. A safety car was deployed after Lopez crashed into the wall.  At the restart, Seb passed his teammate and swapped positions. He was then all over Felix Rosenqvist who he subsequently passed. Stéphane Sarrazin was next on the list and both drivers delivered a fierce wheel-to-wheel duel on the final lap but that was not enough for Séb to be on the podium. After the race, it was found that Sébastien’s car was under minimum weight. Therefore, the stewards made the decision to disqualify the Swiss driver from this afternoon’s race.  

Renault e.dams remain on top in the Teams championship with a 33 point gap over ABT Schaeffler Audi Sport. Nico Prost will handle a ten-grid place penalty in tomorrow’s race for changing the engine. Séb has lost his title lead but there is still everything to play for in both championships in tomorrow’s race – the season finale of season 3. 

Alain Prost, co-owner of the team: “We had a tough day that ended with a disappointment with Sebastien’s disqualification. Our bad luck will continue tomorrow with the ten-grid place penalty for Nicolas. We had to change the engine due to a dysfunction of the battery. We hope that tomorrow, we will be a bit luckier to win both titles. We had to rebuild a car in a very short time so I would like to congratulate and thank the team for their investment today.” 

Jean-Paul Driot, co-owner of the team: “Above all, I want to thank the whole team for their hard work today. Despite Sébastien’s accident in Free Practice 2, he did a great race, and made a spectacular recovery. Obviously, we are very disappointed with the disqualification but we will fight until the end.”

Sébastien Buemi, #9: “I am extremely disappointed with what happened today. I will give it all to win both titles tomorrow.”

Nico Prost, #8: “We had a good start of the day and a good qualifying. After that, we had several issues at the start of the race. During the first stint, we gained some good positions. It was still possible to do a good result before the safety car. However, when Seb passed me, I lost two positions. I am a little bit disappointed. We will fight hard tomorrow.”

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Christophe DEVILLE
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GROUPE RENAULT PRESS

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