Sebastien Buemi sad about Formula E farewell at Nissan: "Think I deserved more respect".
Sebastien Buemi became one of four drivers so far to pass the 100-race mark in Formula E at the Diriyya E-Prix. The Swiss driver competed for the e.dams team (later Nissan) since the first race in the electric series, but switched to Envision before this season. For Buemi, the long collaboration came to an unpleasant end, as he now revealed.
The start of the season with his new team Buemi succeeded exceptionally well: after the third race he is in third place overall. The highlight of his 2023 motorsport year so far has undoubtedly been his pole position at the Friday race in Saudi Arabia: Buemi secured first place on the Formula E grid for the 15th time.
"This is just the beginning," announced a confident Buemi to 'Motorsport.com'. "It was only one race, but I already reached the duels in Mexico. The pole position shows that I can be successful if I have a good car."
"The last two seasons have been tough for me," Buemi admits on his Envision team's website. "We were not competitive, and it was very difficult mentally to deal with. On top of that, losing the title in the first and third seasons was hard for me to cope with."
"Defeat in the 3rd season was especially hard"
In Formula E's debut season in 2014/15, Buemi finished runner-up, just one point behind title winner Nelson Piquet Jr. Buemi hung on to the tail of Mahindra driver Bruno Senna all the way to the finish line of the London E-Prix, but couldn't find a way past the Brazilian on the tight Battersea Park circuit. With a successful overtaking maneuver, the title would have gone to him.
In season 3 he was runner-up again. Unlike his opponent Lucas di Grassi, however, Buemi had to skip the New York City E-Prix. In addition to his Formula E commitment, the Swiss has been driving for Toyota in the World Endurance Championship WEC for many years, competing at the Nürburgring at the same time. His Toyota contract stated that the WEC commitment took precedence over other racing commitments.
"Losing the third season was particularly tough because I had to miss two races due to WEC commitments," Buemi recalled. "That made it hard to fight back."
"Makes me sad what happened last year"
Buemi left the e.dams team, with which he had competed in 98 Formula E races - under different names - after eight years together. The Le Mans-based team, originally an offshoot of Jean-Paul Driot's DAMS team, raced with Renault powertrains in the Gen1 era. For the fifth season, Renault handed over to Japanese alliance partner Nissan before the manufacturer took over the team completely last year.
In the Nissan era, e.dams was unable to match the success of its first seasons. Although Nissan had developed an innovative dual-engine concept for the fifth season, this was banned toward the end of the season. Nissan had to develop a new powertrain at short notice, which never reached the top level of Audi, DS, BMW or Mercedes. In addition, there were missteps in race strategy: for example, on the last lap in Mexico in 2019, both Nissan drivers ran out of power as the engineers miscalculated.
Buemi hints that the parting of ways with Nissan was not on good terms, despite their long association. "It makes me a little sad what happened last year," the Swiss driver reports. "We won so much together. And then how it ended was not nice. I think I probably deserved a little more respect. But that's just the way it is in motorsport."
"Looking forward to the next 100!"
That he would one day celebrate a triple-digit anniversary in Formula E was not something the Swiss could have foreseen in the early stages of the electric formula racing series. "When I got into the car in Beijing in 2014, I had no concrete expectations about the future of Formula E," Buemi describes. "So I was pleasantly surprised by how professional and big the whole thing was from the start. I had hoped that the championship would grow quickly and more manufacturers would join in."
"But I definitely didn't expect it to grow so quickly," he said, surprised by Formula E, which attracted major manufacturers such as Audi, BMW, Jaguar, Mercedes and Porsche early on. "Especially because it's not easy to attract manufacturers and big teams to a new form of motorsport. Overall, Formula E has developed well, and I am of course pleased to have been part of the first race and to still be part of it."
"I have now competed in more than 100 races," the Envision driver continued. "And I'm already looking forward to the next 100!" Until then, however, there is still a long way to go. Buemi will contest his 102nd Formula E race next Saturday in Hyderabad, when the racing series holds its first race in India.