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The 2016 Long Beach ePrix (formally the 2016 FIA Formula E Faraday Future Long Beach ePrix) was a Formula E electric car race held on April 2, 2016, before a crowd of 17,000 spectators, at the Long Beach Street Circuit, in Long Beach, California. It was the sixth round of the 2015–16 Formula E season, and the second (and final) annual edition of the event. The 41-lap race was won by Lucas di Grassi for Audi Sport ABT from a second position start. Venturi driver Stéphane Sarrazin finished second, with the second Audi Sport ABT car of Daniel Abt third.

2016 Long Beach ePrix
Race 6 of 10 of the 2015–16 Formula E season
Layout of the Long Beach Formula E street circuit
Layout of the Long Beach Formula E street circuit
Race details
Date April 2 (2-04), 2016
Official name 2016 FIA Formula E Faraday Future Long Beach ePrix
Location Long Beach Street Circuit, Long Beach, California, United States
Course Street circuit
Course length 2.131 km (1.324 mi)
Distance 41 laps, 87.37 km (54,29 mi)
Weather Temperatures reaching up to 77 °F (25 °C); wind speeds approaching speeds of 12.7 miles per hour (20.4 km/h)[1]
Pole position
Driver Virgin
Time 57.261
Fastest lap
Driver Switzerland Sébastien Buemi e.Dams-Renault
Time 57.938 (lap record) on lap 28
Podium
First Audi Sport ABT
Second Venturi
Third Audi Sport ABT

Sam Bird of Virgin began from the pole position after the fastest driver in qualifying Team Aguri's António Félix da Costa was sent to the rear of the grid for an illegal tire pressure. Bird led for the first eleven laps of the race until he was overtaken by di Grassi on the twelfth lap. Di Grassi kept the first position through the mandatory pit stop phase to switch into a second car, but his lead of four seconds reduced to nothing when the safety car was deployed on lap 35 after NextEV driver Nelson Piquet Jr. crashed. However, di Grassi kept the lead at the rolling restart to claim his second victory of the season, and the third of his career.

The result promoted di Grassi to the lead of the Drivers' Championship with 101 points, as the previous leader Sébastien Buemi of e.Dams-Renault did not earn any points in Long Beach. Bird and Jérôme d'Ambrosio for Dragon maintained third and fourth. Sarrazin's second-place finish advanced him from eighth to fifth. In the Teams' Championship, Audi Sport ABT's strong performance narrowed e.Dams-Renault's advantage to six points, and Dragon fell from second to third with four races left in the season.

ReportEdit

BackgroundEdit

The 2016 Long Beach ePrix was confirmed as part of Formula E's 2015–16 series schedule in July 2015 by the FIA World Motor Sport Council.[2] It was the sixth of ten scheduled single seater electric car races of the 2015–16 season,[2] and the second annual edition of the event.[3] It was held at the seven-turn clockwise 1.324 mi (2.131 km) Long Beach Street Circuit in Long Beach, California on April 2, 2016.[3] Construction of the track began on February 16, more than a month before the ePrix.[4] A subsequent Long Beach City Council resolution authorizing the closure of pathways lining the track was adopted in March 2016.[5]

Going into the race, e.Dams-Renault driver Sébastien Buemi led the Drivers' Championship with 98 points. His nearest championship rival was Audi Sport ABT's Lucas di Grassi in the second position who had 76 points. Sam Bird of Virgin was third with 60 points, and Dragon driver Jérôme d'Ambrosio placed fourth with 58 points. With 44 points, Loïc Duval in the second Dragon vehicle rounded out the top five drivers.[6] In the Teams' Championship, e.Dams-Renault topped the standings with 136 points; Dragon were in second place with 102 points, and Audi Sport ABT were a further ten points behind them in the battle for the position. Virgin were fourth with 66 points, and Mahindra placed fifth with 49 points.[6]

After being disqualified from the victory in the preceding Mexico City ePrix due to one of his cars being underweight, di Grassi said his objective for the Long Beach race was to contend for either the podium or a victory, "Being disqualified in Mexico was obviously a setback in the fight for the title. My team has dealt precisely with the circumstances and will do everything in its power to prevent this happening ever again. The issue is now closed for me and I’m only looking forward now: six races, a good 150 points – there is plenty to aim for and our ambition remains unbroken. In Mexico we lost together, the next time we’ll win together again.”[7] Abt stated beforehand that his objective for Long Beach was to enter the super pole session of qualifying and to contend for a place on the podium.[7]

Practice and qualifyingEdit

Two practice sessions—both on Saturday morning—were held before the late afternoon race. The first session ran for 45 minutes and the second 30 minutes.[8] A half hour shakedown on Friday afternoon was led by Duval with a time of 1 minute and 8.016 seconds, followed by his teammate d'Ambrosio and NextEV's Nelson Piquet Jr.[9] Overnight alterations were made to the turn one chicane after concerns were raised by drivers about its tightness.[10] In the first practice session, held in misty weather conditions and an ambient temperature of 59 °F (15 °C),[10] Buemi was fastest with a lap of 57.383 seconds. Bird was 0.432 seconds slower in second. The Andretti duo of Simona de Silvestro and Robin Frijns were third and fourth. Salvador Durán in the quicker of the two Aguri cars placed fifth, and his teammate António Félix da Costa was seventh; they were separated by Stéphane Sarrazin's Venturi in sixth. Di Grassi, Nico Prost of e.Dams-Renault, and Abt rounded out the session's top ten fastest drivers.[11] Although the session passed relatively peacefully, Di Grassi ran straight off the dirty track at the turn one chicane, and lightly touched a barrier alongside the circuit. Prost and Mahindra's Bruno Senna locked their rear brakes and did the same soon after.[11][12] Venturi's Mike Conway, winner of the Long Beach Grand Prix in 2011 and 2014,[13] went straight on under braking for the fifth corner, but he avoided striking a wall.[11]

In the shorter second free practice session, held under clear weather conditions,[14] the temperature of the Long Beach track was rising, and drivers immediately emerged onto the track to familiarise themselves at lap times set with 200 kW (270 hp) of power.[15] Buemi set a benchmark time that was bettered by Virgin's Jean-Éric Vergne. Mahindra's Nick Heidfeld and then Sarrazin led the time sheets momentarily before Prost improved to lead which Buemi retook soon after. Abt set the overall fastest lap time at 56.778 seconds with seven minutes remaining. Buemi, Di Grassi, Félix da Costa, Frijns, Bird, Prost, Senna, Sarrazin, and d'Ambrosio completed the top ten ahead of qualifying.[16] As with the first session, the second session of free practice passed without any major incidents, although Duran, Vergne and Frijns (twice) went onto the escape road at turn one; all three executed spin turns to rejoin the track. Heidfeld ran deep going into the same corner, and he swerved to avoid hitting a tire wall.[16] Conway glanced a barrier alongside the circuit on his maximum power lap but he continued with only minor damage.[14]

 
António Félix da Costa (pictured in 2013) set the fastest lap time in super pole but started from the rear of the field due to irregular pressure in his left-rear tire.

Saturday afternoon's qualifying session ran for 60 minutes and was divided into two groups of four cars and another two groups with five vehicles. Each group was determined by a lottery system and was permitted six minutes of on-track activity. All drivers were limited to two timed laps with one at maximum power. The fastest five overall competitors in the four groups participated in a "Super Pole" session with one driver on the track at any time going out in reverse order from fifth to first. Each of the five drivers was limited to one timed lap and the starting order of the ePrix was determined by the competitor's fastest times. The driver and team who recorded the fastest time were awarded three points towards their respective championships.[8]

In the first group, Bird set the fastest overall lap time of any driver in the group stages at 56.821 seconds. Frjins was 0.324 seconds slower in second.[12] Buemi eased off his accelerator pedal and lost a large amount of grip entering the first turn, and that meant he could not go into the corner in the method he desired due to him carrying an excessive amount of oversteer, and he was third-fastest.[17][18] D'Ambrosio and Oliver Turvey of NextEV were the first group's slowest two drivers.[12] Sarrazin was fastest in group two. Prost had problems with his car's speed despite running in clear air and he placed second with De Silvestro third.[17] Duval was the second group's slowest driver, and overall competitor in group qualifying after he hit a barrier at turn five with his car's left-rear wheel during his maximum power lap.[19][20] Abt took advantage of a clean track to become the fastest driver in the third group, followed by Vergne who reported discomfort with his brakes. Piquet and Duran set the slowest two times of group three.[17] It appeared at this point that the five drivers who would progress to super pole had been decided, but Félix da Costa was fastest in the fourth group. Di Grassi followed in second place and Heidfeld came in the third position. Senna and Conway rounded out group four.[12]

At the conclusion of group qualifying, the lap times set by Bird, Félix da Costa, Heidfeld, Di Grassi, and Sarrazin were fast enough to advance them to super pole.[17] Félix da Costa was the fourth driver to set a lap time,[21] and he set the fastest overall lap in the third sector, and had the speed for an optimal exit leaving the turn seven hairpin, allowing him to take the first provisional pole position of his career with a lap of 57.178 seconds.[17][22] Bird made a driver error at turn one but he regained some time by using the kerbs to qualify in second on the grid. DI Grassi had an oversteer that qualified him no better than third.[17][23] Sarrazin had a lack of grip due to oversteer, meaning he drifted wide on the track, and he was restricted to fourth.[17][18] Fifth-placed Heidfeld lost time in the second sector, and he then glanced the turn seven hairpin barrier, giving him heavy rear brake locking and an excessive amount of oversteer.[18][23] After qualifying, Félix da Costa had all of his qualifying lap times deleted because a post-qualifying scrutineering inspection discovered the pressure in his left-rear tire was 0.05-bar (5.0 kPa) below the permitted limit.[24] Piquet received a ten-place grid penalty for changing his electric motor, his second of the season, and he was ordered by series officials to spend an additional ten seconds at his pit stop.[25] The application of penalties meant Bird began from pole position, ahead of Di Grassi, Sarrazin, Heidfeld, Frijns, Abt, Buemi, Prost, d'Ambrosio, Senna, Vergne, De Silvestro, Turvey, Conway, Duran, Duval, Piquet, and Félix da Costa.[9]

RaceEdit

The race began before a crowd of 17,000 people at 16:00 Pacific Standard Time (UTC−08:00).[3][26] Weather conditions at the start were dry and clear.[9][27] The air temperature ranged from 75.4 to 76.5 °F (24.1 to 24.7 °C) and the track temperature was between 80.96 and 83.03 °F (27.20 and 28.35 °C).[9] A special feature of Formula E is the "Fan Boost" feature, an additional 100 kilowatts (130 hp) of power to use in the driver's second car. The three drivers who were allowed to use the boost were determined by a fan vote.[8] For the Long Beach race, Di Grassi, d'Ambrosio, and Heidfeld were handed the extra power.[28] Bird and Di Grassi made equally good getaways but it was Bird who held the first position on the run to the first corner.[29][30] Although the entire field avoided a major incident on the first lap, Frijns braked heavily for turn one, but he retained car control, and fifth from Abt.[12][31] Félix da Costa made the best start, advancing four positions by the end of lap two. Meanwhile, Vergne was overtaken by d'Ambrosio going into turn five.[9] On the third lap, Heidfeld was overtaken on the outside line by Frijns for fourth. Heidfeld then ran deep after he locked his rear tires on the approach to turn four, losing further places to Abt, and the e.Dams-Renault pair of Buemi and Prost.[32][33]

 
Sam Bird (pictured in 2015) started from the pole position and led the opening eleven laps of the event.

Bird led Di Grassi by half a second as he conserved his electrical energy usage in the early part of the race.[12] Turvey was passed by Félix da Costa for the thirteenth position.[34] Buemi set what was at that point, the fastest lap of the ePrix on lap seven, as he was drawing closer to the rear of Abt's car.[35] At the conclusion of the following lap, Buemi out-braked Abt around the inside at the turn seven hairpin to move into the fifth position.[35][36][37] Bird blocked Di Grassi from passing him for the lead on the eleventh lap.[35] On lap twelve, Buemi sought to overtake Frijns but he missed his braking point and momentarily mounted the rear of Frijns' car at the turn seven hairpin.[30][37] Frijns' rear wing was removed, while Buemi went airborne, and lost his front wing's left-hand section.[30] Frijns was sent around by the impact.[36] Yellow flags were waved at the turn seven hairpin to caution drivers about debris there.[12] Frijns fell to ninth, while Abt and Prost advanced to fourth and fifth.[31][34]

That lap, Di Grassi caught Bird off guard,[31] and got a better run to pass him around the inside going into turn five to take over the lead.[28] Both narrowly avoided running over Buemi's section of nose cone from the earlier incident.[36] Frijns and Buemi were shown the black flag with an orange disc by marshals on lap 15, mandating their entrance to the pit lane for repairs,[29] which they did on lap sixteen with 30% of usable electrical energy.[35] Both elected to switch into their second cars, but their expectations of finishing were improbable.[31] Buemi was later issued with a drive-through penalty by series officials for causing the accident with Frijns.[36] Vergne and Duval made their pit stops to switch into a second car at the end of the 20th lap. The majority of the field, apart from Buemi, Frijns, and the Mahindras of Heidfeld and Senna, entered the pit lane on the next lap.[31] Heidfeld led lap 22,[37] as he and his teammate Senna elongated their electrical energy usage to gain positions.[34]

After the pit stops, Di Grassi returned to the lead, with Bird in second, and Sarrazin close behind the duo in third.[31] Prost was issued a drive-through penalty because his pit stop was a tenth of a second under the mandated minimum time of 67 seconds.[31][32] Bird's mid-corner speed enabled him to stay close to Di Grassi's low-drag car.[28] But, during his out-lap on lap 23,[31][35] he locked his cold brakes on the run to the fifth corner, and lightly touched a tire barrier leaving the turn with his car's front.[32][36] Bird extricated himself from the barrier,[37] and he rejoined behind Senna in seventh place.[34] He had bodywork damage to his car,[31][35] but his chance of winning the race was over.[28] Bird caught Senna quickly but the latter fended off his passing manoeuvres despite a rear brake bias problem.[12][35] Félix da Costa passed Vergne for ninth on lap 27.[35] The following lap, Buemi set the race's fastest lap with a time of 57.938 seconds, earning him two championship points.[9] Prost took his drive-through penalty at the conclusion of the 30th lap,[12] dropping from fourth to thirteenth.[33]

 
Lucas di Grassi (pictured at the following 2016 Paris ePrix) led a race-high 29 laps to secure his third career victory.

On lap 33, Duran was handed a drive-through penalty for exceeding the maximum amount of permitted electrical energy of 170 kW (230 hp) in his first car during the first half of the race.[29][30][31] On the next lap, Piquet was seeking to set the ePrix's fastest lap,[38] but he carried too much speed on the entry for the chicane, launching the left-hand side of his car airborne after clambering over the kerbs.[30] He crashed into an outside barrier at the exit of the pit lane that rejoined the track after turn two.[36][37] Since he could not drive because his front wing had folded under the car,[35][36] and it was in a dangerous position,[30] the safety car was deployed on lap 35 to close the field up, and to allow Piquet's vehicle to be recovered, as Di Grassi's four-second lead was reduced to nothing.[28][30][31] In the meantime, Félix da Costa entered the pit lane to retire from eighth with a broken suspension wishbone.[12][31][38] The safety car was withdrawn at the conclusion of lap 38, and racing resumed without incident as Di Grassi led Sarrazin and Abt.[36] Heidfeld immediately used his FanBoost to try and overtake Abt but he was unsuccessful.[31]

Sarrazin had three percent less usable electrical energy than Di Grassi who marginally pulled away from him.[12] He then locked his rear brakes at the turn seven hairpin while under pressure by Abt for second.[35] No positional changes occurred within the top six in the final three laps,[35] and Di Grassi crossed the start/finish line after 41 laps to take his second victory of the season, and the third of his career.[39] Sarrazin claimed his first career podium in second, and Abt took third. Off the podium, Heidfeld could not pass Abt and he took fourth.[31] His teammate Senna was fifth, and he was followed by Bird in the higher-placed of the two Virgins in sixth. The two Dragon cars of d'Ambrosio and Duval placed seventh and eighth.[32] De Silvestro finished in ninth to become the first woman to score points in Formula E.[40] Conway rounded out the top ten finishers. The last of the classified drivers were Prost, Turvey, Vergne, Duran, Frijns, and Buemi.[32] There were three lead changes amongst three different drivers during the race. Di Grassi led twice for a total of 29 laps, more than any other driver.[9]

Post-raceEdit

The top three drivers appeared on the podium to collect their trophies and spoke to the media in a later press conference. Di Grassi said of his victory, "I'm very happy to show that if you keep your focus, keep up your work, good results come. From the outside races always look comfortable, this is a tricky track, it's very easy to do mistakes. It's an extremely difficult car to drive on the edge so we had no comfort in winning the race. We just had to focus on making no mistakes."[41] Sarrazin spoke of his happiness over the pace of both of his cars for allowing him to race at the front of the field and finish second, "We have been so close to a win so many times since the beginning of the Formula-E series. Today is a great relief, and a great joy – everything really came together for us today."[42] Third-placed Abt said he was disappointed not to qualify in a strong position, "In the race I tried to stay cool while others around were making a lot of mistakes, and that helped me a lot. This result was so important for the team and our first double podium is for them.”[38]

Félix da Costa bemoaned the lost opportunity to win after his qualifying times were deleted due to an irregular tire pressure, "Finally I had the chance to compete for a race clean and it got taken away. The team is going through a big transition. We're a new team really and I think only this weekend we got the people that will be with the team next year. At the moment all these people coming in and out, mistakes happen. I don't believe in bad luck; the tyre pressure was down because we pushed it to the limit. I can appreciate all the hard work, that we win together and lose together, but it's very painful."[43] Bird stated his belief he was responsible for the error that lost him a podium result, "It was fortunate, really, normally when you get stuck in a tyre wall you don’t finish the race, so fortunate in one respect but gutted I didn’t get the second or the win. Just a shame we didn’t capitalise at one of the circuits we’re good at."[44] De Silvestro had a best result of eleventh before the Long Beach race and she said of her career-best finish of ninth, "We’ve been so close so many times and we’ve never got them. So it’s a great step forward. The weekend was good, pretty happy to have it happen in Long Beach too because most of my racing has happened here in the U.S. so it feels like home. You always want to do well in front of your home crowd."[40]

The result of the race left Di Grassi as the new leader of the Drivers' Championship with 101 points. Buemi did not score any points in Long Beach and fell to the second position, one point adrift of his championship rival. Bird maintained third place with 71 points, and d'Ambrosio kept fourth with seven less points. With 48 points, Sarrazin's second-place finish advanced him to fifth.[6] In the Teams' Championship, e.Dams-Renault were still leading with 138 points, but Audi Sport ABT moved from third to second because of their strong result, and lowered e.Dams' advantage to just six points. Dragon placed third with 112 points. Virgin (with 77 points) continued to lead Mahindra (61 points) in the battle for fourth with four races left in the season.[6] The Long Beach ePrix was discontinued from the 2016–17 season onwards because no financial agreement between race organizers and Formula E officials was agreed upon.[45]

ClassificationEdit

QualifyingEdit

Pos. No. Driver Team Time Gap Grid
1 2   Sam Bird Virgin 57.261 1
2 11   Lucas di Grassi Audi Sport ABT 57.270 +0.009 2
3 4   Stéphane Sarrazin Venturi 57.412 +0.151 3
4 23   Nick Heidfeld Mahindra 57.825 +0.564 4
5 27   Robin Frijns Andretti 57.145 5
6 66   Daniel Abt Audi Sport ABT 57.151 +0.006 6
7 9   Sébastien Buemi e.Dams-Renault 57.189 +0.044 7
8 8   Nico Prost e.Dams-Renault 57.284 +0.139 8
9 7   Jérôme d'Ambrosio Dragon 57.288 +0.143 9
10 21   Bruno Senna Mahindra 57.383 +0.238 10
11 25   Jean-Éric Vergne Virgin 57.496 +0.351 11
12 28   Simona de Silvestro Andretti 57.696 +0.551 12
13 88   Oliver Turvey NextEV TCR 57.952 +0.802 13
14 1   Nelson Piquet Jr. NextEV TCR 58.015 +0.870 171
15 12   Mike Conway Venturi 58.144 +0.999 14
16 77   Salvador Durán Team Aguri 58.417 +1.272 15
17 6   Loïc Duval Dragon 59.049 +1.904 16
18 55   António Félix da Costa Team Aguri 182
Source:[9]
Notes:

RaceEdit

Pos. No. Driver Team Laps Time/Retired Grid Points
1 11   Lucas di Grassi Audi Sport ABT 41 45:11.582 2 25
2 4   Stéphane Sarrazin Venturi 41 +0.787 3 18
3 66   Daniel Abt Audi Sport ABT 41 +1.685 6 15
4 23   Nick Heidfeld Mahindra 41 +2.343 4 12
5 21   Bruno Senna Mahindra 41 +4.968 10 10
6 2   Sam Bird Virgin 41 +5.229 1 113
7 7   Jérôme d'Ambrosio Dragon 41 +6.735 9 6
8 6   Loïc Duval Dragon 41 +8.057 17 4
9 28   Simona de Silvestro Andretti 41 +10.505 12 2
10 12   Mike Conway Venturi 41 +10.900 15 1
11 8   Nico Prost e.Dams-Renault 41 +11.205 8
12 88   Oliver Turvey NextEV TCR 41 +17.417 13
13 25   Jean-Éric Vergne Virgin 40 +1 lap 11
14 77   Salvador Durán Team Aguri 40 +1 lap 16
15 27   Robin Frijns Andretti 40 +1 lap 5
16 9   Sébastien Buemi e.Dams-Renault 38 +3 laps 7 24
Ret 55   António Félix da Costa Team Aguri 33 Suspension 18
Ret 1   Nelson Piquet Jr. NextEV TCR 32 Accident 14
Source:[9]

Notes:

Standings after the raceEdit

  • Notes: Only the top five positions are included for both sets of standings.

ReferencesEdit

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2016 Mexico City ePrix
FIA Formula E Championship
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2016 Paris ePrix
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