A lot has been said about that last corner crash.
What a script. Prost had led almost every lap of the race from pole position. One corner remained between the blue and gold of the e.dams-Renault and champaign celebrations.
Heidfeld had other ideas. He’d been catapulted into second position following a particularly good pit stop, and had gone about hunting Prost down, sector by sector, lap by lap.
It all came down to that last run down past the pit entrance and that final left hand corner. Now or never. Heidfeld, in the glossy black and blood red of the Venturi machine, pulled to the left and accelerated hard. He was going for it. All out. All or nothing. Last of the late brakers.
Prost looked the wrong way. He looked the wrong way. The Frenchman glanced into his right mirror and then swung sharply left, a pre-emptive strike against any dart down the inside. The problem was, Heidfeld had already made the move and was alongside.
Contact. The collision smashed the German’s suspension and sent him skating along the tarmac out of control, right into the sausage kerbs which launched him into the air like a rocket.
In the pits, we heard the collective gasp of the crowd as Heidfeld hit the catch fence, flipped over and landed upside down. Our TV screens were running with a slight delay. The timing screens only showed that Prost and Heidfeld had stopped, and that Lucas di Grassi – who had been the face of Formula E for so long – had threaded his way through the wreckage to pick up the win.
Cocooned inside the Spark-Renault, which looks like a racing car but must have a tank somewhere in its family tree, Quick Nick escaped the incident with just a bruised leg. Prost perhaps suffered more – the loss of almost certain success, wounded pride and a 10 place grid penalty at the next race.
Their teams have been disappointingly grown up about the whole thing, quick to emphasise that there are no hard feelings. A little bit of pantomime would be good for the sport.
There was much more to the Beijing race than that crash, however. The racing was tight all the way through the field. The cars – all new machines, untested in this environment – held up very well, when they weren’t being hurled into the barriers by drivers getting too aggressive with the track and coming off worse. No one ran out of juice. There were no complaints about a lack of noise (to the contrary, the pounding tunes from the DJ box irritated many).
Beijing was opening night, the first ever Formula E spectacular. Yet, there were no missed cues or fluffed lines. There is room for improvement, but in many ways the event felt just like any other race day. And that is one hell of an achievement.
This editorial introduction is extracted from the Current E Beijing 2014 magazine. Coming soon.