Sebastien Buemi may have kicked off his Formula E title defence in convincing fashion by winning last month’s season opener in Hong Kong, but the Renault e.dams driver is refusing to get ahead of himself as he sets off in pursuit of a second championship.
Buemi battled from fifth on the grid to rack up his seventh Formula E victory, capitalising on a mid-race safety car to vault to the front of the pack. Renault had impressed throughout preseason testing, appearing to have lost none of its pace from season two but the rest of the field has certainly closed up. Hong Kong saw a number of drivers, including Sam Bird, Nelson Piquet and Robin Frijns, all enjoy stints in the lead, suggesting that the pack is tightly-knit: a far cry from this time last year.
“I think its hard to say because we’ve had only one race,” Buemi said when asked where Renault lay in the pecking order in a press conference today ahead of the Marrakesh race. “We didn’t even have the superpole. It’s hard to say where we are. It’s going to be more difficult than last year. In the race were still pretty strong. It was difficult to show it last race in Hong Kong because of the safety car. We try to give the driver good confidence. That’s what you need on a one lap qualifying. I hope tomorrow it will be good, but it will be a tough season.”
So although we can expect to see Buemi fighting at the sharp end of the field once again this weekend, the challenge he faces will be as fierce as ever. DS Virgin Racing appears to have come on leaps and bounds after switching to a single-motor powertrain, while ABT remains a perennial threat, and even season two backmarkers NextEV have vaulted forward, particularly over one lap.
Buemi proved his title credentials in season two; now it is a case of cementing his place at the top of Formula E’s pecking order.
“Its great to be part of this new story with Formula E from the beginning,” he said. “First of all, we needed the respect of the motorsport world and we got it. Now even if you come with a big budget, it doesn’t mean you can turn it into a good result. We just need to keep going, to bring Formula E to great cities. I think that’s where it belongs, in city centres. This year, with the addition of Montreal and New York, it will be very good. I look forward to seeing how the people react to Formula E tomorrow and then on to the next one. Its moving in the right direction.”