There is no better atmosphere than being at a race so, naturally, my motorsport moment of 2016 had to be one where I was witnessing events alongside teams and journalists. Choosing between one of the BTCC weekends where excitement is always high or a tense Formula E race was difficult but, eventually, I had to go with the final race at London’s Battersea Park.
Tension had been building over the second half of the season as the battle between Renault e.dams’ Sebastien Buemi and ABT’s Lucas Di Grassi got closer and closer. With Buemi taking pole ahead of the race, the two championship contenders were equal on points going into the final race of the season.
This was good of us who’s maths skills are a little rusty. It wouldn’t be too hard to figure out who had taken the title by the end of the race.
In the media centre, we joked ahead of the race: wouldn’t it be funny if the pair crashed into one another at the start of the race. It would definitely have been a fitting end to the season.
The cars pulled up to the grid, Buemi on pole with teammate Nico Prost alongside him and Di Grassi right behind. The Brazilian would have to get ahead of his championship rival before the first corner if he were to stand a chance of taking the race lead. A misjudged move in the run to the first corner saw Di Grassi dive into the back of Buemi, pushing the pair of them into the barriers as Prost took the race lead.
That was not really how we expected it to go down. The media centre was full of disbelief as we watched the pair untangle themselves and return to the pits. If things were to end there, Di Grassi would take the championship, having the more third place finishes than the Swiss driver (they were equal on race wins and second places). But Formula E offered Buemi a unique opportunity. There was a second car waiting for each driver in the pits, and fastest lap earned a driver two points.
Whilst Prost dawdled along in the lead of the race without much hassle, it was a battle to the death for the fastest lap between Di Grassi and Buemi. The pair dived in and out of the pits, trying to find clear air to set their fastest laps.
It was almost as if there wasn’t an actual race going on, as all eyes were on the two drivers who were already out of the race.
Eventually, Prost crossed the finishing line, followed by Daniel Abt and Jerome D’Ambrosio. The battle for the championship saw Buemi take the fastest lap, finishing three points ahead of Di Grassi in the championship.
It may not have been your typical title decider, but it was definitely the tensest and most exciting I’ve seen this year.
Feature image credit: FIA Formula E Media