Da Costa’s Formula E Victory in Argentina
The sun shone brightly and the crowds cheered on Saturday morning to herald the beginning of the fourth dynamic Formula E event in Buenos Aires, Argentina. Sticking with the South American circuits after the race in Uruguay last month, the teams lined up on the grid, ready to race as the drivers' championship is still completely unpredictable, with three different winners so far.
From the off, Sebastian Buemi and Nick Heidfeld both got off to great starts, leading the field after the first corner. Current championship leader Lucas di Grassi fell in fifth place, eager to begin gunning up the order to secure a further points lead. Indeed, it wasn't long before the wheel-to-wheel racing began as challenges from Britain's Sam Bird in third place forced Heidfeld onto the defensive early on.
Unfortunately, this was to be the beginning of the end. Karun Chandhok of Mahindra Racing, who had previously been running in the top 10, suffered a suspension problem and his car spun off into the track, taking him out of the race.
A safety car was deployed and so each driver tried to pit before the safety car came onto the circuit; Sam Bird left the pit on a red light, which meant he then had to take a drive-through penalty, and Sebastian Buemi, the race leader, had by a stroke of misfortune pitted a lap early, which resulted in a lengthy safety car period as the race order was re-established.
Racers driving under the safety car
Not long after the race resumed, Buemi clipped his wheel on the wall and it spun off, effectively taking himself out. Celebrations occurred in the di Grassi camp because it put the Championship leader at the front of the field – but they were short-lived, as just three laps later, the Brazilian experienced the same back suspension problem that Chandhok had had earlier on, and was also forced to retire, meaning he would be earning no points for this race.
Things turned from bad to worse for the Audi Sport team as di Grassi's teammate Daniel Abt misjudged a corner and broke his front right suspension, forcing him to pit and give up his top-ten spot.
For everyone else, however, the podium spots had been blown wide open and the race was fiercer than ever. Nick Heidfeld was in front for a while, but unfortunately, when he pitted for the second time, his pit lane limiter malfunctioned and so he was forced to take a drive-through penalty for speeding.
The Virgin team racing in the Buenos Aires ePrix
This put the unassuming Felix da Costa in first place for the Amlin Aguri team. There was no real threat to him in the dying laps of the race, though the battle for fifth and sixth was hard-fought between Bruno Senna and Jean-Eric Vergne, the unfortunate would-be winner of the previous race in Uruguay.
Da Costa sailed across the line for his maiden win, making it four different winners in four races so far in this championship. Nicolas Prost and Nelson Piquet Jr. followed him across the line.
Crowds watching the inaugural event in Argentina
In terms of the championship, despite his DNF, Lucas di Grassi is still on top with 58 points. However, he is only 10 points ahead of Sam Bird in second place, and only 11 points separate Bird from Nelson Piquet Jr. in fifth.
The Championship has been hard-fought so far, and will only get tougher as the races continue – one win could mean the difference between sixth place and first in the standings.
We are nearing the halfway point now in this inaugural Formula E season, and it is impossible to tell who will come out on top. The teams are fiercely competitive, the drivers are out to win and if the results continue this way, it looks as though it will all come down to the final race in London.
The next event is in Miami on March 14 and of course the final race is in London in Battersea, very close to the only heliport in the capital. It will be a busy day so book your flight as soon as possible.