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The 2016 Paris ePrix (formally the 2016 FIA Formula E Visa Paris ePrix) was a Formula E electric car race held on 23 April 2016 at the Circuit des Invalides in the Les Invalides building complex. A total of 20,000 people attended the race. It was the seventh round of the 2015–16 Formula E season and the inaugural running of the event. The 45-lap race was won by Audi Sport ABT driver Lucas di Grassi after starting from second position. Jean-Éric Vergne finished second for Virgin and e.Dams-Renault's Sébastien Buemi came in third. It was di Grassi's second consecutive victory after the Long Beach ePrix, his third of the season and the fourth of his career.

2016 Paris ePrix
Race 7 of 10 of the 2015–16 Formula E season
Layout of the Paris Street Circuit
Layout of the Paris Street Circuit
Race details
Date 23 April 2016
Official name 2016 FIA Formula E Visa Paris ePrix
Location Circuit des Invalides, Les Invalides, Paris, France
Course Street circuit
Course length 1.93 km (1.2 mi)
Distance 45 laps, 86.85 km (54 mi)
Weather Cold and cloudy
Pole position
Driver Virgin
Time 1.01.616
Fastest lap
Driver Germany Nick Heidfeld Mahindra
Time 1.02.323 on lap 39
Podium
First Audi Sport ABT
Second Virgin
Third e.dams-Renault

Sam Bird won the pole position by posting the fastest lap in qualifying but was passed by di Grassi on the run to the first corner due to a mapping problem that gave him excess wheelspin. Bird could not retake the lead from di Grassi who drew clear from him and got into a battle with his teammate Vergne as Buemi was moving through the field and drew closer to the pair. After the pit stops for the mandatory switch into a second car, di Grassi kept the lead and continued pulling away from the pack and looked set to clinch a comfortable victory until the race ended under the safety car for a crash involving Ma Qinghua on lap forty.

The consequences of the final positions increased di Grassi's Drivers' Championship advantage over Buemi to eleven points while Bird who fell to sixth in the closing laps after running wide but managed to retain the third position in the standings. Jérôme d'Ambrosio maintained fourth but his advantage over the fifth-placed Stéphane Sarrazin was reduced to six points. In the Teams' Championship, e.Dams-Renault grew their lead over Audi Sport ABT by one point and Virgin drew closer to Dragon in the battle for third with three rounds left in the season.

ReportEdit

Background and preparationsEdit

 
The Esplanade des Invalides, where the track's pit lane was located.

After winning the previous round at Long Beach three weeks earlier, Audi Sport ABT driver Lucas di Grassi led the Drivers' Championship with 101 points and his nearest rival Sébastien Buemi of e.Dams-Renault was one point behind in second place. Virgin's Sam Bird was in third with 71 points, seven ahead of Jérôme d'Ambrosio for Dragon in the battle for the position. Stéphane Sarrazin of Venturi rounded out the top five with 48 points.[1] In the Teams' Championship, e.Dams-Renault topped the standings with 138 points and were six points in front of Audi Sport ABT in the battle for the lead. Dragon stood in third position with 112 points. Virgin (77 points) and Mahindra (61) contended for fourth place.[1]

 
Anne Hidalgo (pictured in 2014) was instrumental in the return of motor racing to Paris for the first time since 1951.

There was one change of driver heading into the race. Having been in one of the Aguri cars since the third round of the season in Buenos Aires, Salvador Durán was replaced by World Touring Car Championship race winner and former Formula One test driver Ma Qinghua for the rest of the season. Ma was the second driver that Aguri nominated to drive for them outside of force majeure reasons after Duran replaced Nathanaël Berthon earlier in the season.[2] The stewards granted Aguri's approval to allow Ma to compete in a meeting the day before the ePrix.[3] Ma spoke of his excitement of competing in the series, "I’m looking forward to racing in a single-seater series again and to managing the unique demands of a Formula E car, which is renowned for its handling and energy management demands.”[2]

In the 1980s, the Fédération Internationale de l'Automobile (FIA) president Jean Todt and four-time Formula One World Champion Alain Prost were part of a group that lobbied politicians for a Formula One race in the streets of the French capital of Paris but were unsuccessful due to concerns over noise and the potential damage to local infrastructure.[4] The plan for a race in Paris was revived in 2014 when Formula E began preparations with the city's mayor and environmentalist Anne Hidalgo, who entered into discussions with series representatives about such an event occurring. Series officials later studied more than twenty areas in and outside of Paris before settling on the Les Invalides building complex in the 7th arrondissement, which they felt was best suited to hold motor racing.[5] These plans were publicly revealed to Le Parisien in September 2014 by Formula E founder and CEO Alejandro Agag who wanted the race to be the 2015–16 season opener.[6]

The ePrix was announced as part of the provisional calendar by the FIA World Motor Sport Council in July 2015,[7] and was officially confirmed three months later as the seventh of ten single-seater electric car rounds of the season.[8] Prior to the ePrix, the 18th in Formula E history,[9] Paris last hosted a street circuit race at the Bois de Boulogne in 1951,[10] and the last major international single seater motor race to be held in France was the 2008 French Grand Prix at the Circuit de Nevers Magny-Cours.[11] Organisers expected 20,000 people in attendance.[12] The layout of the Rodgrigo Nunes designed 1.93 km (1.20 mi) fourteen-turn clockwise Circuit des Invalides was unveiled to the public at the Hôtel de Ville on 13 January 2016. The circuit goes around Les Invalides with the Musée de l'Armée and the tomb of Napoleon. The pit lane is located along the Esplanade des Invalides, north of Les Invalides.[5][13] The construction of the track began the week before the ePrix and ended the day before it was held.[14]

Practice and qualifyingEdit

 
Mike Conway set the fastest overall lap time of the weekend during the second practice session but was collected by Nick Heidfeld in group qualifying.

Two practice sessions—both on Saturday morning—were held before the late afternoon race. The first session ran for 45 minutes and the second for 30 minutes.[15] The half-hour shakedown session on Friday afternoon was cancelled as the roads used by Formula E were closed for logistical reasons.[16] Buemi used 200 kW (270 hp) of power to set the fastest lap of the first practice session, held in cold and cloudy weather conditions, at 1 minute and 2.841 seconds, followed by di Grassi, Sarrazin, Bird, Mike Conway of Venturi, Loïc Duval for Dragon, Daniel Abt of Audi Sport ABT, the Mahindras of Bruno Senna and Nick Heidfeld, and NextEV's Nelson Piquet Jr..[17] During the session, where several drivers ventured off the circuit leaving turns one and eight, the session was red-flagged halfway through for d'Ambrosio who stopped on the approach to turn one with a battery management system failure and required extraction from the track. Abt recovered from one of the track's run-off areas but avoided crashing as he entered into the path of Nico Prost's e.Dams-Renault.[17][18]

Conway was fastest in second practice with the best time of the weekend at 1 minute and 1.386 seconds. The Virgin pair of Jean-Éric Vergne and Bird were second and third. Di Grassi was fourth-quickest, ahead of Sarrazin. Positions six to ten were occupied by Senna, António Félix da Costa for Aguri, Prost, Andretti's Robin Frijns and Abt.[19] As in the previous practice session some drivers went into the run-off areas but avoided damaging their cars. Yellow flags were shown five minutes in after Sarrazin lost control of his car, and crashed under braking for turn eight. The impact broke his front-left suspension and front wing. The need for a stoppage however was not required as Sarrazin returned to the pit lane. Immediately after, Bird glanced the turn eight barrier. Although Bird's left-rear suspension was bent, he returned to the pit lane.[19][20][21]

Saturday afternoon's 60 minute qualifying session was divided into four groups equally into three or five cars. 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.[15] Qualifying took place in cold ambient weather conditions of 12 °C (54 °F) which made it difficult for drivers to generate warmth into their tyres and brakes.[22]

 
Sam Bird (pictured in 2015) took his second consecutive pole position after the Long Beach ePrix and the third of his career.

In the first group, Buemi set the early benchmark pace as the red flags were waved for an accident at turn eleven.[23] Heidfeld was on his maximum power lap when he lost control of his car on the run to the corner and spun into the tyre barriers before stopping.[22][24][25] Heidfeld tried to rejoin the track as Conway came into his path; the two collided and inflicted heavy damage to the front of their cars.[22][26][27] Both drivers returned to the pit lane to have their cars repaired before the race.[26][28] Debris was littered across the circuit. Conway did not use his second car because it was not fully charged but he received an apology from Heidfeld.[23][26] One minute and 49 seconds were left to run but the group was lengthened to three minutes to allow for a out-lap and one maximum power attempt. Buemi was not allowed another try since he had already set his maximum power lap along with Heidfeld who was barred for having been deemed to have caused the incident with Conway.[23][25] In the end, Sarrazin was group one's fastest competitor with Buemi half a second slower in second and Duval third. Conway and Heidfeld were the group's slowest two drivers. Vergne was the second group's pace setter and di Grassi and Frijns placed second and third. Piquet came fourth and Abt was the group's slowest competitor.[29] In the third group, Prost was fastest and demoted his teammate Buemi from super pole.[24] No one else in group three entered the overall top five as NextEV's Oliver Turvey got his overweight car into second. The group's slowest trio of drivers were d'Ambrosio, Senna and Simona de Silvestro of Andretti.[23][24][29]

The final group had Bird who set the fastest overall lap of the group stages with a time of 1 minute and 1.514 seconds and was more than a quarter of a second quicker than teammate Vergne . Antonio Félix da Costa was second fastest and Ma was group four's slowest competitor after avoiding crashing twice in the circuit's closing two corners on his best lap.[22][25] At the end of group qualifying, the lap times set by Bird, Vergne, Sarrazin, di Grassi and Prost were fast enough to enable their progression into super pole.[23] Bird was the last driver to venture onto the circuit and, although he was slower in the first sector, he made up time in the final two sectors to clinch his second straight pole position after the Long Beach race and the third of his career with a lap of 1 minute and 1.616 seconds.[23][24][27] He was joined on the front row of the grid by di Grassi whose lap was 0.316 seconds slower after locking his brakes on the run to a corner and missed one of the apexs in the second sector and held the pole until the latter's lap .[26][30] Vergne sought his first pole position of the season but did not accomplish this goal as he lost time in the first sector and could only muster third. Sarrazin also had a slow first sector and took fourth while Prost struggled on the cold track and narrowly avoided clouting the barrier at turn two to claim fifth.[23][29] Behind Prost the rest of the grid lined up as Frijns, Turvey, Buemi, Piquet, Félix da Costa, d'Ambrosio, de Silvestro, Senna, Abt, Ma, Duval, Conway and Heidfeld.[26]

RaceEdit

Weather conditions at the start of the race were dry but cloudy and cold. The air temperature was between 11.4 and 12 °C (52.5 and 53.6 °F) and the track temperature ranged from 17.25 to 17.75 °C (63.05 to 63.95 °F).[31] 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.[15] For the Paris race, Buemi, Duval and Vergne were handed the extra power.[32] The race began before a crowd of 20,000 people at 16:04 Central European Summer Time (UTC+02:00).[33][34] Bird spun his tyres due to a mapping problem and he lost the lead to di Grassi who was to the inside of him on the approach to the first corner and pushed him out wide. This gave Vergne the opportunity to find his way past his teammate Bird around the inside at the exit of turn two after they touched wheels.[35][36][37][38] Overtakes occurred further down the field as Prost made a good start and overtook Sarrazin for fourth, while Frijns made a poor getaway and fell from sixth to ninth.[39][40] Félix da Costa momentarily moved to seventh until Buemi got past him.[41] Despite competitors having problems with getting heat into their tyres, the field avoided causing an incident on the tight track as the top five settled into their respective positions.[41][42]

 
Jean-Éric Vergne finished second after fending off his teammate Bird in the early stages of the event.

As di Grassi began setting consecutive fastest laps to pull away from Vergne and Bird,[35][41] Ma passed Conway on the run to the first corner on the second lap and he then overtook de Silvestro to move into fifteenth. Duval had been struggling with the setup of his car over the weekend but his day worsened when his gearbox failed on lap six. He consequently stopped his car between turns six and seven.[40][41] This signalled the premature end of Duval's race and the full course yellow procedure was necessitated on the next lap to allow for the recovery of his car by marshals to a safe location.[36][39][42] Racing resumed on the eighth lap with di Grassi's lead of three and a half seconds over Vergne lowered to one and a half seconds during the full course yellow period but most drivers retained their respective positions. Frijns had drawn close to Félix da Costa and the two battled each other until Frijns lunged up the inside of Félix da Costa at turn six to gain seventh. The two soon got near to Buemi and Turvey who were duelling over sixth.[35][36][41] Initially, Buemi could not find a way past Turvey but he eventually succeeded by turning to the outside of him at turn eight on lap nine. This left Turvey to hold off the challenge presented to him by Frijns and Félix da Costa.[35][36][37]

Then, on the same lap, Turvey lost sixth when Frijns passed him.[36] Most of the field found their rhythm in the opening ten laps and lap times began lowering as a result. Vergne and Bird were slowly getting closer to di Grassi but had not brought themselves into a position where they could attack him.[41] At the end of the 15th lap, Félix da Costa out-braked Turvey heading into turn one for seventh. On the following lap, Buemi passed Sarrazin going into the first corner for fifth.[36][40][42] On lap 18, Piquet was in tenth when he slowed on the straight with a power issue that dropped him to the rear of the field. He made an early pit stop to switch into his second car on that lap.[37][42][43] Vergne and Bird ran nose to tail throughout the first half of the race. Bird appeared quicker before the pit stop phase. He looked to pass Vergne at the turn three and four complex on lap twenty-two but they made contact. Damage was inflicted to Bird's front wing and Vergne's right sidepod.[40][44] Prior to this, Buemi moved past teammate Prost for fourth on lap 22 and he closed up to Vergne and Bird before the mandatory pit stops began the lap after.[37][42][45]

 
Lucas di Grassi celebrating his second consecutive victory of the season and the fourth of his career on the podium.

Senna, Heidfeld and Abt stayed out to give themselves more usable electrical energy for the end of the race.[35] After the pit stops, di Grassi kept the lead and increased his advantage to six and a half seconds by the end of lap 26.[42] The race stagnated over the next seven laps as drivers found it difficult to overtake due to the tightness of the track.[37] But the battle for third place between Bird and Buemi gathered pace on lap 33 as Buemi set a series of fastest laps to draw closer to Bird who was still close by his teammate Vergne.[36][37] Although Buemi was faster, Bird used the wide parts of the track to retain third over the next seven laps as Buemi used his FanBoost in an unsuccessful attempt at overtaking him on the back straight during the 34th lap.[36][39][40] Heidfeld earned two championship points by setting the fastest lap of the race on lap 39 at 1 minute and 2.323 seconds.[31] On lap 40, Bird turned to block a dive from Buemi on the inside line but he picked up some oversteer and locked his rear brakes lightly after being caught out by a bump in the road entering turn one.[35][38][42] Bird went straight into the turn's run-off area and performed a swift U-turn to return to the track but he lost time and fell to sixth as Buemi inherited third.[41][46]

Approaching the end of the lap, it appeared that di Grassi would win the race comfortably while Buemi was gaining on Vergne for second but the ePrix was disrupted by an accident soon after.[41][42] Going into the final turn, Ma was pushing hard when he lost control of the rear of his car at the exit of the corner and crashed into the left-hand wall.[37][39][40] Ma was unhurt but his crash caused the deployment of the safety car. The race ended this way since track workers could not extract Ma's car and clear the large amount of debris in time.[35][39] Because overtaking is not permitted behind the safety car, di Grassi clinched his second consecutive victory, his third of the season and the fourth of his career[35][41] Vergne took his first podium of the season in second and Buemi was third. Off the podium, Prost took fourth ahead of his French compatriot Sarrazin in fifth. Bird claimed sixth with Frijns and Félix da Costa seventh and eighth. Senna and Abt used their electrical energy advantage to round out the top ten. D'Ambrosio finished eleventh in front of Heidfeld and the NextEV duo of Piquet and Turvey. Conway and de Silvestro were the final classified drivers.[35]

Post-raceEdit

 
The podium ceremony after the race

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 he felt he had "the most perfect start we had so far" after Bird spun his tyres off the line and he glanced his mirrors to prevent him from a pass to retake the lead, "To see people all around the track cheering, on the inside of the track and the outside… it’s just amazing what was done here today and I hope we race here many more times and in more cities like Paris. This is what Formula E is about."[47] Vergne spoke of his need to end a "negative spiral" by changing his mentality after being unable to match his teammate Bird for overall pace throughout the season and his results had been sub-par, "I never felt really comfortable with the car and the team has helped me a lot. The season has been pretty much a disaster so to finish second in my home race is something I'm quite proud of."[48] Third-placed Buemi said the cold air temperatures prevented him from heating his brakes and spoke of his belief his car was the fastest in the field despite a slower one-lap pace, "We caught up to others and overtook so it shows that once everything is up to speed it’s OK. We just have to work very hard up to the end of the season."[32]

Bird was critical of his teammate Vergne over their battle for second during the first half of race, calling him "a mobile chicane" and stated his belief he was the faster driver,[44] "It was enjoyable if he wasn't my team-mate. This is our home race for DS, we were second and third and he was not massively quicker. We're racing for a big team. We don't want to see two cars finishing in the wall."[38] Vergne responded by expressing his surprise at the contact and Bird's manoeuvres.[44] Virgin team principal Alex Tai admitted after the race that he considered employing team orders to Vergne to allow Bird through but he elected against doing so because of Vergne's competitive nature and it was his home ePrix.[44] Prost said that his team needed to achieve a decent result after the problems that affected them in the past few races and affirmed that he would battle his teammate Buemi should it be for the win, "The pace was more or less the same as every race. We’re always fighting for the top five. I think Lucas (di Grassi) and Seb (Buemi) are a bit stronger this year let’s hope we can finish the championship like this, score good points in every race."[49]

The consequence of the race extended di Grassi's his Drivers' Championship lead over Buemi to eleven points while Bird's sixth-place finish meant he maintained third position with 82 points. D'Ambrosio was still in fourth with 64 points despite coming ninth but the large gap he had established over the fifth-placed Sarrazin had been further lowered to six points.[1] In the Teams' Championship, e.Dams-Renault were only able to increase their advantage over Audi Sport ABT by one point while Virgin's strong result closed the gap to Dragon in third place to six points. With 65 points, Mahindra maintained fifth place with three rounds left in the season.[1]

ClassificationEdit

QualifyingEdit

Pos. No. Driver Team Time Gap Grid
1 2   Sam Bird Virgin 1:01.616 1
2 11   Lucas di Grassi Audi Sport ABT 1:01.932 +0.316 2
3 25   Jean-Éric Vergne Virgin 1:01.993 +0.377 3
4 4   Stéphane Sarrazin Venturi 1:02.550 +0.934 4
5 8   Nico Prost e.Dams-Renault 1:02.704 +1.093 5
6 27   Robin Frijns Andretti 1:02.405 6
7 88   Oliver Turvey NextEV TCR 1:02.492 +0.087 7
8 9   Sébastien Buemi e.Dams-Renault 1:02.661 +0.256 8
9 1   Nelson Piquet Jr. NextEV TCR 1:02.685 +0.280 9
10 55   António Félix da Costa Aguri 1:02.747 +0.342 10
11 7   Jérôme d'Ambrosio Dragon 1:02.797 +0.392 11
12 28   Simona de Silvestro Andretti 1:02.888 +0.483 12
13 21   Bruno Senna Mahindra 1:02.915 +0.510 13
14 66   Daniel Abt Audi Sport ABT 1:03.081 +0.676 14
15 77   Ma Qinghua Aguri 1:03.655 +1.250 15
16 6   Loïc Duval Dragon 1:03.787 +1.362 16
17 17   Mike Conway Venturi 1:04.798 +2.793 17
18 23   Nick Heidfeld Mahindra 1:11.853 +9.853 18
Source:[31]

RaceEdit

Pos. No. Driver Team Laps Time/Retired Grid Points
1 11   Lucas di Grassi Audi Sport ABT 45 52:40.324 2 25
2 25   Jean-Éric Vergne Virgin 45 +0.853 3 18
3 9   Sébastien Buemi e.dams-Renault 45 +1.616 8 15
4 8   Nicolas Prost e.dams-Renault 45 +2.142 5 12
5 4   Stéphane Sarrazin Venturi 45 +3.044 4 10
6 2   Sam Bird Virgin 45 +3.856 1 111
7 27   Robin Frijns Andretti 45 +5.141 6 6
8 55   António Félix da Costa Aguri 45 +7.000 10 4
9 21   Bruno Senna Mahindra 45 +8.433 13 2
10 66   Daniel Abt Audi Sport ABT 45 +9.479 14 1
11 7   Jérôme d'Ambrosio Dragon 45 +10.738 11
12 23   Nick Heidfeld Mahindra 45 +12.453 18 22
13 88   Oliver Turvey NEXTEV TCR 45 +13.721 7
14 12   Mike Conway Venturi 45 +14.833 17
15 28   Simona de Silvestro Andretti 45 Brakes 12
Ret 1   Nelson Piquet Jr. NEXTEV TCR 39 Out of Energy 9
Ret 77   Ma Qinghua Aguri 38 Accident 15
Ret 6   Loïc Duval Dragon 4 Gearbox 16
Source:[31]

Notes:

Standings after the raceEdit

ReferencesEdit

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