The Formula E championship showdown in Montreal saw its first major twist during second practice on Saturday morning as points leader Sebastien Buemi crashed hard, causing significant damage to his Renault e.dams car.
Leading the drivers’ championship by 10 points over perennial rival Lucas di Grassi, Buemi was accused of not being able to handle pressure well by the Brazilian, but said on Friday he would not be wasting energy worrying about the comments, treating the weekend like any other.
But in a twist that could have major implications on this race weekend, Buemi clipped the inside wall at the Bus Stop chicane, causing him to go straight on and slam into the wall at speed.
— FIA Formula E (@FIAformulaE) July 29, 2017
The Swiss driver was able to get out of the car unaided, but with a significant amount of damage caused to his chassis, Renault faces a race against time to get the repairs completed in time for the race. Buemi will be able to use his second chassis for qualifying.
“I just touched the wall on the inside of the last chicane,” Buemi explained. “It pushed me into the wall. It was a big hit, but I’m fine.”
Renault e.dams team chief Jean-Paul Driot confirmed that a new tub will be required for Buemi’s car, leaving his crew with a big race against time to get ready for lights out.
“There is a lot of work because we have to change the tub, so it looks like we have to rebuild the full car,” Driot said.
“It’s going to be a very tough exercise, but I rely on my mechanics.”
FP2 wasn’t all doom and gloom for Renault e.dams as Nicolas Prost turned in the fastest lap of the session, completing a 200kW lap just before the red flag was thrown with eight minutes remaining.
Prost’s time of 1:22.180 gave him P1 by almost two-tenths of a second from Jean-Eric Vergne, with Mahindra’s Felix Rosenqvist taking third.
Lucas di Grassi was unable to get in a 200kW lap, finishing 16th, but appears to have the momentum following Buemi’s setback in FP2.