Buemi Completes Hat-trick With His Best Win
Autosport|February 23,2017

Three wins from three rounds, and the championship leader appears stronger than ever. But his rivals look set to make his life much harder.

Scott Mitchell

The last place Formula E needed to come to end a three-month leave of absence was Buenos Aires. It had to return with a bang after such an extended gap between rounds two and three of the 2016-17 season. So heading to a venue where Sebastien Buemi has been quickest on the previous two visits, when he had ended ’16 in such a rich vein of form, did not seem conducive to that.

So it proved, on paper at least. Another race, another victory – the first hat-trick in Formula E history – and Buemi’s championship lead increased to 29 points. Those who fear a procession, or Formula E losing the element of unpredictability that helped give it such a positive first two seasons, could be forgiven for fearing the worst.

But that glosses over two key points from Buenos Aires. The first is that this was not just another Buemi win – it was arguably his best yet. And linked to that is the second point, which is that this event indicated Buemi’s life is only going to get harder.

Buemi has won in impressive fashion on several occasions in Formula E, though his success has often been all about metronomic execution. This was not exactly a swashbuckling display, but there were flashes of real brilliance. His passes on Lucas di Grassi and Jean-Eric Vergne were ruthless to rise from third to first. Buemi reacted immediately to Vergne passing di Grassi for the lead, following him through into second two corners later. His dive inside Vergne to move to the head of the field, from some way back, was met with no resistance but was consummate nonetheless.

Buemi tends to avoid boasting, preferring to let his work on the track do the talking. While he did describe it as “a very satisfying” win, he stopped short of calling it his best. But it was, and that is mainly because it came after his biggest challenge so far.

“Passing those guys was clean – I don’t feel like I need much credit for that,” he reckoned of his moves on di Grassi and Vergne. And while it is true that both drivers claimed that they offered little resistance because they were unhappy with their first cars, that Buemi had to overtake them is more significant than the manner in which he did it.

Buemi was out qualified on merit by di Grassi – who earned his first Formula E pole in the process – and Vergne, who has threatened great pace with his customer Renault powertrain since the start of the season. He didn’t look massively confident in qualifying, after a disrupted couple of practice sessions left him with only one real 200kW effort and no real long runs. Buemi didn’t go in blind, but he was compromised.

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