Sebastien Buemi won the first Hong Kong ePrix thanks to a perfect strategy call, from Lucas di Grassi and Nick Heidfeld.

Taking the opportunity under the safety car, the Renault driver inherited the lead after Sam Bird had a problem in his pitstop, which saw him fall down the order. Lucas di Grassi, who had started at the back of the field after his crash in qualifying saw the race play out perfectly after he had to pit early to replace a damaged nose.

As the lights went out for the first race of the season, it was a good start from pole for Piquet Jr. Lopez tried around the outside of Turvey, but he lost out to Bird and then Buemi. There was a crash at the back of the field with Ma, with Abt also losing his rear wing during the first lap. Both returned to the pitlane, with Abt coming back out without his rear wing.

Heidfeld was setting a rapid pace through the first lap, overtaking his teammate Rosenqvist and then Lopez who was dropping down the order after a light tap in the first corner with his teammate Bird. Duval and Vergne had also overtaken the Virgin car.

At the front, Piquet had pulled away from the chasing pack. It was tight though for second with Turvey only just ahead of Bird and Buemi.

Di Grassi without part of his front wing was in the group behind Lopez, he overtook the Jaguar drivers and the Virgin car in one corner on Lap 5, bringing him into the top ten after starting at the back of the grid, although he was given the black and orange flag for damage to his car.

By lap 6 Bird had overtaken Turvey and immediately pulled away from his countryman. The Renault driver behind also made a quick pass into the first corner to push the NEXTEV driver down to fourth.

After stopping to change his front wing, all the good work of the first few laps for di Grassi was undone with him stopping. It was also an early pitstop for Vergne, switching to the new car after just 10 of the scheduled 45 laps.

Back at the front, Bird had caught up to the back of Piquet Jr without using any more power than the leader. The gap was down to half a second on lap 11, with teammate Turvey still keeping the Mahindra pair of Heidfeld and Rosenqvist behind.

Outside the top ten, Sarrazin was on the move initially passing Carroll and then Evans for 11th, with D’Ambrosio not able to make an impact on those in front of him. Struggling, Lopez went down the escape road and dropped to 16th after his promising start.

On lap 14 the fan boost was announced with Lopez, di Grassi, and Buemi. Rosenqvist made a mistake on the same lap, sliding and hitting the wall which knocked off the rear wing forcing him to make a change of car early.

Lap 17 saw Piquet Jr caught up at the chicane after the Virgin of Lopez was already in the barrier. It dropped the pole sitter to third, Bird now the race leader from Buemi. The accident brought out the safety car, which brought Abt and di Grassi into the pitlane for their car changes.

A number of drivers pitted behind the safety car including Buemi, Turvey, Heidfeld, Duval, Prost and D’Ambrosio. Of course, all of these drivers came out behind di Grassi who had already pitted.

The safety car came in on lap 21. With Bird immediately making a gap at the front. Piquet Jr pitted as the safety car entered the pitlane, with Da Costa making his way up to third, Engel fourth and Carroll in fourth. Da Costa was caught up behind Vergne who was being lapped by the Andretti driver.

At the end of the first lap after the safety car and Bird already had a 3.5-second lead at the front. In the midfield, di Grassi was leading from Buemi in eighth.

Da Costa pitted from second on lap 24, although Bird continued in the Virgin car with only 5% remaining. Evans did the same thing in the Jaguar, but he was in a worse situation. The Virgin car made it, though, with Bird making his pitstop on lap 25 along with Carroll and Evans. Bird couldn’t get away in his second car though with Evans also having a pit stop as well. Frijns swapped to his second car which had been hastily put together, coming out in 10th place.

After all the pit stops had taken place it was Buemi who was leading from di Grassi, Heidfeld, Prost, and Turvey. Bird had dropped all the way down to 15th ahead of Rosenqvist and Abt although was on the attack to at least get points for the weekend.

With more power available, Frijns in ninth was fast and closing in on Piquet Jr who had lost out in the pit stop sequence. The Andretti driver made the move into the first corner on lap 37 and immediately pulled away from the Brazilian.

D’Ambrosio was closing in on Turvey for fifth, Da Costa behind to make it a battle of three on lap 40. Da Costa overtook the pair of them on the same lap. Frijns in the sister Andretti was quickly on the pair of them as well, overtaking the FF Dragon car into the first corner on lap 42. Like his teammate, he overtook the pair of them on the same lap.

Still, with substantially more battery than the leaders, Da Costa and Frijns were thirteen seconds behind Prost on the final lap of the race. Heidfeld looked marginal on his battery usage on the final lap, but he made it.

The order remained to the flag with Buemi winning the first ePrix of the season from di Grassi and Heidfeld.

 

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