Sebastien Buemi has begun his FIA Formula E title defence in fine fettle with a faultless drive to victory in the Hong Kong ePrix as others faultered around him.

In an eventful opening round to season three of the all-electric series, Buemi started fifth and ran fourth initially but would steadily pick his way up the order as early leaders Nelson Piquet Jr and Sam Bird hit trouble out of their control.

With NEXTEV locking out the front row, Piquet and Oliver Turvey got away well, ahead of Bird and Buemi with third place starter Jose Maria Lopez caught on the outside of turn one and picking up damage, preluding his tumble down the order until a race defining crash on lap 15.

With Piquet leading comfortably, ahead of Bird after he got the better of Turvey for second, the Brazilian was caught out by the almost-lapped Lopez crashing into the barriers directly ahead of him, forcing him to brake hard and skid into the wall himself. Though he avoided damage, he'd drop to third behind Bird and Buemi.

With the safety car out, different strategies would play out with Buemi, Turvey, Nick Heidfeld and Nicolas Prost all diving for a change of cars earlier than planned in the hope the safety car would stay out long enough for them to save charge in a longer second stint.

By contrast, Bird continued and tried to eke out his lead when racing resumed, but he was already set to lose his lead to Buemi when his second DS Virgin Racing machine failed to start. Necessitating a complete reboot, the Briton would lose a lap and drop out of contention.

As such, Buemi would find himself in a net lead from Lucas di Grassi, the safety car playing beautifully into the hands of the ABT Audi driver having not only started 19th but was also forced to make a stop early for a new nose. However, having changed cars just before the safety car came out, di Grassi simply surged up the leaderboard when everyone came in ahead.

Though he would briefly hold position over Buemi, necessary power saving would allow the Renault eDams driver through, the title favourites holding position for a familiar but hard fought 1-2.

Nick Heidfeld secured a welcome podium in his first race for Mahindra Racing, with Nicolas Prost's fourth proving that those who pitted first under the safety car had made the right decision.

Fifth and sixth went to MS Amlin Andretti duo Antonio Felix da Costa and Robin Frijns in a remarkable effort of power preservation. The duo - starting 13th and 20th - went long on their first stint and though they would come out in the lower half of the top ten, scythed up the order thanks to their larger pool of energy.

Similarly, Jerome d'Ambrosio made good gains from a lowly starting position to finish in seventh, ahead of Turvey, rookie Maro Engel and Stephane Sarrazin. Pole sitter Piquet chose a bad moment to pit and was left 11th.

Elsewhere, Bird recovered to 13th but would be out of the points, while Jaguar endured a tough return to racing, Adam Carroll 12th and Mitch Evans retiring. Felix Rosenqvist ran with team-mate Heidfeld early on before damaging his car in a crash and dropping back

 

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