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Formula E Valencia E-Prix I

Buemi frustrated after first-lap collision with Lotterer

Nissan Formula E Sebastien Buemi says his retirement in the Valencia E-Prix was “tough” to accept after he was taken out by Porsche rival Andre Lotterer on the opening lap.

Sebastien Buemi, Nissan e.Dams on the back of a scooter after retiring from the race

Buemi has endured a tough start to the 2020/21 Formula E campaign with the Nissan team, which continues to race with its old powertrain having delayed the introduction of its new kit until next month’s Monaco E-Prix.

The 2015/16 champion scored only 11 points in the opening two double headers of the year, but qualified a season-best fourth for the first Valencia race after successfully progressing into the superpole section of qualifying.

However, his hopes of scoring Nissan’s first podium of 2021 were dashed when he was hit by Lotterer on the first lap of racing after the safety car, ending up beached in the gravel trap and having to retire immediately from the race.

Lotterer and Venturi’s Norman Nato were running side by side through the long Turn 8 left-hander when the Porsche driver outbraked himself going into the first part of the chicane, tagging the Nissan car of Buemi that had been running a few metres clear of the battling duo in fourth.

Lotterer was deemed responsible for the incident and promptly handed a drive-through penalty by the stewards which dropped him to the back of the pack.

Asked for his take on the incident that ended his race, Buemi said he was frustrated to lose out on a top result on a weekend he and Nissan have been competitive in an otherwise difficult start to the season.

“If I had managed a bit quicker the lap the corner before maybe I just would have missed it. Just a spot of the game,” he told Motorsport.com. “I just couldn’t do anything.

"All the hard work, to be spun around after only one lap, it’s tough. Andre has a lot of experience, it’s a shame this happened.

“I didn’t do an amazing job [this season], the car had some issues and the only times things were working well we basically got spun around. 

“Who knows what we could have done today. I think the car was good. The only time we are really good we get spun around. If you have people crashing into you, doing mistakes, then that’s it.”

This is the second time in two race weekends that Lotterer has been involved in a first-lap collision, having crashed into the leading Mercedes of Stoffel Vandoorne in the first Rome race earlier this month.

However, Lotterer felt there was little he could do to avoid hitting Buemi’s Nissan at this occasion, laying the blame on the "clumsy" circuit layout of the adapted Ricardo Tormo circuit.

“Honestly I don’t know what I could do differently,” Lotterer told Motorsport.com. “For me Sebastien was quite far away. I was battling with Norman and suddenly Sebastien is there, I think the layout of the track is a bit clumsy. 

“We saw a few collisions in that corner, unfortunately I couldn’t avoid it. So sorry for Seb and it was impossible to see him through Norman. I mean I was like say 'okay, I’m going to be there for the next corner.' Just bad timing.”

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Lotterer was later involved in another collision with the second Venturi of Edoardo Mortara at Turn 1, a result of a brake problem that also forced Porsche teammate Pascal Wehrlein to retire the car in the pits.

Lotterer, who is yet to score a point five races into the 2021 season, will carry a three-place grid penalty into the second part of the Valencia double-header on Sunday.

“There the thing is actually I had a problem with brakes at the end,” the German driver told Motorsport.com. 

“I mean I still had brakes but I couldn’t stop the car as usual and couldn’t avoid the collision because I was actually. Mortara was on 235[kw attack mode] and he was actually ahead so I struggled to decelerate.”

Mortara had been running inside the points for much of the race before a mistake dropped him outside the top 10, with the collision with Lotterer while fighting for 15th position less than 10 minutes from the finishing leading to his retirement.

Summing up his race, Mortara told Motorsport.com: “Until that point, we made up a lot of   positions, we were starting P16 and I was already back to P7 or P8.

“At that moment I went off the track, start to fight again with a couple of cars. There was the incident with Andre that finished our race.”

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