Renault show their hand as Buemi ends testing on top


Renault e.dams reasserted their dominance as Sebastien Buemi became the only driver to dip under the one minute twenty-nine second mark on the final day of testing.

His teammate Nico Prost was in third, meaning that once again it looks like Renault has the most competitive package going into the new season.

Speaking afterwards, Senior Team Manager Alain Prost said that he was happy with both the team’s one lap and long run pace.

“We have set competitive times across long runs and over one lap, but more importantly we have also been able to run reliably, which will be even more important this year,” Prost said.

“The countdown to Hong Kong is now short but we go there in relatively good shape and eager to get started.”

Buemi also said he was pleased with how preparations had been for the new season, saying “It was good to end it with the fastest lap and a lap record, over a second quicker than the previous one. I feel like I’m now well-prepared for Hong Kong.”

After going fastest on the previous two days, Techeetah’s Jean-Eric Vergne had to settle for second, although he once again bettered his previous day’s time.

He wasn’t the only one to set his best time of testing on the final day, as the majority of the field turned the wick up to see exactly what their cars were capable of.

As a result today’s times are probably the most accurate reflection of where the field stands going into the season opener in Hong Kong next month.

DS Virgin Racing showed that they are up at the top end of the grid again as Sam Bird went fourth and new teammate Jose Maria Lopez eighth.

Dragon Racing and Abt Schaeffler Audi are also up at the sharp end of the grid with Loic Duval, Daniel Abt, Jerome d’Ambrosio and Lucas di Grassi all in the top ten.

There might be some cause for concern for last year’s runner-up di Grassi however, who was not only outpaced by his teammate, but was a full six-tenths off of Buemi’s best time.

Last season’s title battle was typified by Renault having superior pace, leaving di Grassi with work to do to in races to claw back the advantage, and on this evidence it seems like this year may be more of the same for the Brazilian.

Further down the order Mahindra Racing dropped back slightly from where they were earlier in testing, and Andretti still look like they’re struggling for pace as Robin Frijns and Antonio Felix da Costa could only manage fourteenth and sixteenth respectively.

It also looks like it might be a tough season for Jaguar.

With the team expected to announce Mitch Evans and Adam Carroll for next season, neither driver was able to break the one minute thirty mark, putting them at the back of the field alongside Venturi.

 

POSDRIVERNATTEAMTIME
1Sebastien BuemiSUIRenault e.dams1:28.910
2Jean-Eric VergneFRATecheetah1:29.109
3Nico ProstFRARenault e.dams1:29.205
4Sam BirdGBRDS Virgin Racing1:29.282
5Loic DuvalFRADragon Racing1:29.395
6Daniel AbtGERAbt Schaeffler Audi1:29.422
7Jerome d'AmbrosioBELDragon Racing1:29.429
8Jose Maria LopezARGDS Virgin Racing1:29.488
9Lucas di GrassiBRAAbt Schaeffler Audi1:29.511
10Ma Qing HuaCHNTecheetah1:29.649
11Felix RosenqvistSWEMahindra Racing1:29.713
12Oliver TurveyGBRNextEV TCR1:29.717
13Nick HeidfeldGERMahindra Racing1:29.884
14Robin FrijnsNEDAndretti1:29.981
15Mitch EvansNZLJaguar1:30.061
16Antonio Felix da CostaPORAndretti1:30.085
17Stephane SarrazinFRAVenturi1:30.121
18Nelson Piquet JnrBRANextEV TCR1:30.250
19Adam CarrollGBRJaguar1:30.279
20Maro EngelGERVenturi1:30.355