DS Virgin Racing’s Sam Bird has won an exciting Buenos Aires ePrix, in a race where the driver who started on pole position battled for the win with the driver who started last on the grid.
Starting from pole, Bird led away from the Renault eDAMS car of Nicolas Prost and Team Aguri’s António Félix da Costa. It was at the back of the pack, however, where the action was unfolding.
With a spin in qualifying relegating him to 18th and last on the grid, championship leader Sébastien Buemi was carving his way through the field, at one point gaining three positions in one move on his way past thirteen cars to fifth on the road.
By this stage Buemi’s gap to Bird in the lead was significant, however most of that advantage was lost when da Costa’s car stopped on track, simultaneously prompting a safety car and promoting Buemi to fourth.
Pit stops followed for the entire field, and a slow entry for Prost allowed Buemi to jump his team mate into third place behind Bird and championship rival Lucas di Grassi. At the restart di Grassi went after Bird, but a slight mistake provided the opening Buemi needed to slip by into second place.
The scene was now set for a nail biting finish, and over the final two laps Buemi applied relentless pressure on Bird. The Briton responded with strong – but not unsportsmanlike – defence of his position, successfully holding off the advances of the eDAMS car to take his first victory of the season.
Di Grassi finished in third, ahead of Venturi’s Stéphane Sarrazin, a recovering Prost, and Loïc Duval. On his return to the series from Injury, Nick Heidfeld finished seventh, followed by Robin Frijns, Oliver Turvey and Bruno Senna. series debutante Mike Conway – who had impressively qualified in fifth position – ended the race as the final car on the lead lap in fifteenth place.
Post-race, Bird payed tribute to his DS Virgin Racing team, and in particular their development of the car: “As everybody knows we merged with a great manufacturer, DS, for this season and the hard work at the DS Virgin Racing team has produced a really good car today. This is for the boys and the ladies who have worked tirelessly since Punta to give me a better race car.”
For Buemi, it was more of a case of what might have been. Clearly the fastest on track in Buenos Aires, and leaving with an increased championship lead, the Swiss driver was clearly left to rue his spin in qualifying.
“To be honest I’m a bit sorry for my team because I think today I had a great car and didn’t get the most out of it,” he reflected. “But the race itself was great, it was hard because I think apart from da Costa who stopped, I had to overtake all the other guys. It’s good to be here and finish second. I was a bit lucky with the safety car, in fact a lot. Without that it would’ve been a bit more difficult.”
Di Grassi’s run of consistency continues, and while not being able to match the outright pace of Bird and Buemi, the Brazilian remains just four points from the championship lead: “We didn’t have a good car here; I think it was our worst race in terms of pure pace. Qualifying was not so good and the race also. To close the gap on them I had to use more energy so I had to save it in the end. I think all the teams did a step forward after Punta testing and we didn’t. Renault did a big step and it was shown today that with a track you can overtake you can start at the back, even if he was lucky with the safety car. They are very strong so if we want to fight for the championship, we have to work much harder.”
In the Drivers’ Championship, behind Buemi (80 points) and di Grassi (76 points), Bird is now clearly in third place with 52 points. The top five is rounded out by the Dragon Racing pair of Loic Duval and Jerome d’Ambrosio on 32 and 30 points respectively. Renault eDAMS lead the Teams’ Championship by 15 points over ABT Schaeffler Audi Sport, from Dragon Racing and DS Virgin Racing.
The FIA Formula E Championship now moves north to Central America for round five with the Mexico City ePrix to be held on a modified version of the Autodromo Hermanos Rodriguez, on Saturday 12 March.
|2015-16 Formula E Buenos Aires ePrix – Final Classification (35 laps)|
|Pos||Driver||Team / Entry||Laps||Result|
|1.||Sam Bird||DS Virgin Racing Formula E Team||35||45:28.385|
|2.||Sébastien Buemi||Renault e.DAMS||35||+ 0.716|
|3.||Lucas di Grassi||ABT Schaeffler Audi Sport||35||+ 7.525|
|4.||Stéphane Sarrazin||Venturi Formula E Team||35||+ 9.415|
|5.||Nicolas Prost||Renault e.DAMS||35||+ 11.316|
|6.||Loïc Duval||Dragon Racing||35||+ 15.660|
|7.||Nick Heidfeld||Mahindra Racing Formula E Team||35||+ 16.444|
|8.||Robin Frijns||Amlin Andretti Formula E Team||35||+ 18.685|
|9.||Oliver Turvey||NEXTEV TCR Formula E Team||35||+ 22.007|
|10.||Bruno Senna||Mahindra Racing Formula E Team||35||+ 22.456|
|11.||Jean-Éric Vergne||DS Virgin Racing Formula E Team||35||+ 24.482|
|12.||Nelson Piquet Jr||NEXTEV TCR Formula E Team||35||+ 24.641|
|13.||Daniel Abt||ABT Schaeffler Audi Sport||35||+ 27.998|
|14.||Simona de Silvestro||Amlin Andretti Formula E Team||35||+ 36.171|
|15.||Mike Conway||Venturi Formula E Team||35||+ 39.581|
|16.||Jérôme d’Ambrosio||Dragon Racing||34||+ 1 lap|
|Not Classified||Team / Entry||Laps||Result|
|DNF.||António Félix da Costa||Team Aguri||17||Mechanical|
|DNF.||Salvador Durán||Team Aguri||14||Mechanical|
|Fastest Lap||Team / Entry||Lap||Time|
|Jérôme d’Ambrosio||Dragon Racing||29||1:10.285|
Image via FIA Formula E Championship