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Sebastien Buemi drove a peerless Formula E season opener to take a comfortable victory in the Beijing ePrix, while defending champion Nelson Piquet Jr suffered a frustrating race to finish 15th and last.

The Swiss driver completed a grand slam race weekend after taking pole position, fastest lap and the race victory for a clean sweep at the top and he rarely looked challenged after fending off team-mate Nicolas Prost and Nick Heidfeld into the first corner.

Buemi and the Renault e.Dams package has laid down a marker to its rivals for the second season of Formula E, with manufacturers now allowed to produce its own powertrains, as the Swiss driver maintained a comfortable lead to take the chequered flag by 11 seconds.

Di Grassi nabbed second place from Prost into turn one and despite coming under pressure from the French driver he held on to the runner-up spot as Prost suffered rear wing failure in the closing stages.

Much to Prost's frustration and protests he was forced to pit out of the race due to the mechanical failure despite still running in third with a competitive pace. His exit opened the final rostrum spot to Nick Heidfeld for Mahindra's first podium in Formula E.

Excellent race strategy by Dragon Venturi duo of Loic Duval and Jerome d'Ambrosio saw them take full advantage of a full course yellow during their car changeover to leapfrog the drivers in front who pitted a lap earlier.

Oliver Turvey also benefitted from the full course yellow to take sixth ahead of fellow Brit Sam Bird, as Nathaneal Berthon, Stephane Sarrazin and Robin Frijns picked up the final points-paying places.

However, it was a race to forget for defending Formula E champion Piquet Jr who earlier had a nightmare qualifying session in Beijing struggling with the handling NEXTEV Team China Racing machine.

The Brazilian's race charge from the back of the grid never formulated, with Piquet Jr also stopping on track midway through the race, but he was able to see the chequered flag albeit two laps down in 15th and last of the classified drivers.

As the lights went out, it was Buemi who held holeshot into turn one while his team-mate Prost lost out to Heidfeld who jumped down the inside to take second place. It quickly went from bad to worse for Prost who in his attempts to retake second locked up on lap two and ran wide to allow di Grassi to slide through into third.

Simona de Silvestro suffered a season opener nightmare after crashing out on lap three which enforced a full course yellow, dropping the drives speeds to 50km/h to ensure the race marshals could safely recover the Andretti machine.

As racing got back up to speed Buemi demonstrated the strong strides his Renault e.Dams squad has made over the winter by clearing off at the front by almost two seconds per lap.

With the standard car change pit stop coming into play midway through the race Buemi comfortably remained out ahead while the Dragon Venturi duo opted to conserve energy in the first stint to go a lap longer than the majority of the field.

The strategy worked a trick as Duval and d'Ambrosio made huge gains into fifth and sixth respectively.

Another full course yellow came into play on lap 15 when Antonio Felix da Costa ran into the rear of Jacques Villeneuve, which played into the hands of Turvey and Berthon who also pitted a lap later and were able to jump into the top ten.

Upon the second restart of the race Prost caught Heidfeld napping to steal third place and sprinted clear in the pursuit of Di Grassi, who had moved up to second at the pit stop change.

However, Prost's charge in third was hamstrung when he suffered rear wing failure after clipping a barrier in the chicane.

Much to the Frenchman's frustrations he was given the orange and black flag, meaning he had to pit out of the race due to the mechanical fault.

 

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