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Formula E-Brief: Bird soars to victory in Buenos Aires

Discussion in 'Motorsports' started by R.J. O'Connell, Feb 8, 2016.

  1. R.J. O'Connell

    R.J. O'Connell

    BA ePrix 2016 Bird Header B.jpg Sam Bird claimed a hard-fought victory in Saturday's Buenos Aires ePrix, resisting a late-race charge from Sébastien Buemi to deny the championship leader what would have been a sensational win from last place on the grid.

    Bird took the win from his, and his DS Virgin Racing team's, first ever pole position, but only by just 0.716 seconds over the Renault e.Dams ace Buemi. Having led 34 of the 35 laps on the day and with nothing to lose in the championship, Bird had to defend valiantly in the final laps of the race, but with the tail stepping out on his DSV-01 at nearly every corner, Bird was able to save enough energy at the very end to deny Buemi the ultimate comeback, and take his third career Formula E victory.

    For DS Virgin Racing, who takes their first victory of the year, and the first under the new alliance with Citroen, it demonstrated a remarkable turn of form after a sluggish start to the season marred by energy consumption issues in their powerplant and a general smattering of bad luck. It was a performance more in line with Citroen's unbelievable run of successes in the WRC and WTCC.

    After the race, a victorious Bird remarked:
    "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 [del Este] to give me a better race car."

    Buemi had to start from last after he spun on his hot lap in qualifying, but may very well have stolen the show with his performance on Saturday. Clearing three cars alone with a sensational four-wide pass attempt on the opening lap, Buemi continued to claw his way through the field. He landed a tonne of crucial overtakes in Turn 4 in particular, and with some help from the first true Safety Car period of the 2015-16 season, got up to second place with a crucial, forceful overtake on title rival Lucas di Grassi on lap 28. The Swiss Superman showed no signs of playing it safe as he pushed Bird to the bitter end. But even in a narrow defeat, Buemi still avenged a hard-luck DNF at this race a year ago.

    BA ePrix 2016 Buemi.jpg

    Said Buemi,
    "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 was frustrated to "only" come home in third place and not leave Buenos Aires with the championship lead, but his form has been stellar, finishing on the podium in each of the first four races for Abt Schaeffler Audi Sport. Stéphane Sarrazin came home in fourth place for Venturi, matching his best result of the season from Putrajaya last November, which puts the versatile Frenchman in a solid sixth in the championship. Completing the top five, despite a mid-race spin, was the other Renault e.Dams of Nicolas Prost - though perhaps still discontent over not being able to match his teammate's pace as well as he was last season.

    Loïc Duval moved up six places from his disappointing grid spot of twelfth to finish sixth for Dragon Racing. Also improving six places from his starting position was the returning Nick Heidfeld, who finished seventh for Mahindra despite lingering pain from the hand injury that left him sidelined for the Punta del Este ePrix. Robin Frijns finished eighth for the Amlin Andretti team, scoring points in each of his first four Formula E races, one place ahead of rookie rival Oliver Turvey in the lead NEXTEV TCR. Bruno Senna fought some early energy consumption problems to secure a double points finish for Mahindra with his tenth place finish.

    That would leave Jean-Eric Vergne, driving as a "race-time decision" after being afflicted with food poisoning over the weekend, just one place out of the points in the other DS Virgin, ahead of the reigning Formula E champion Nelsinho Piquet, whose title defense from hell does not seem to be letting up any time soon.

    At the site of Antonio Felix da Costa's shocking triumph for Team Aguri a year ago, there would be no repeat performance for the young Portuguese star. Da Costa was as high up as an astonishing second place until just before his scheduled mid-race stop on lap 18, when his SRT-01e gave up the ghost, forcing the defending race winner into an early retirement - and eventually causing the crucial Safety Car interruption. It was a miserable outing for Team Aguri in their return to Argentina, as the returning Mexican hero Salvador Durán retired under almost complete anonymity a few laps before.

    BA ePrix 2016 DaCosta.jpg

    Jérôme d'Ambrosio took the two bonus points for setting the fastest lap, his only tallies from a race that was compromised early on thanks to contact damage - he would finish sixteenth, one lap down. And what would have been a sensational Formula E debut for new Venturi driver Mike Conway was ruined when he spun from fifth place on lap 24, dropping him down to fifteenth place. The former IndyCar street fighter and current Toyota WEC pilot also had some issues with energy management, but still showed the pace needed to compete for points regularly - something that was lacking with former World Champion Jacques Villeneuve at the helm.

    The Latin American leg of the Formula E calendar will conclude on 12 March, with Formula E's first race at a permanent road course. A truncated version of the Autodromo Hermanos Rodriguez in Mexico City will host the fifth round of the championship, where title contenders Buemi and Di Grassi will be separated by just three points.

    BA ePrix 2016 Bird A.jpg

    Though they may want to mind their mirrors, however, for an incoming Bird - one that is now closer to title contention than he appeared to be early in the season.

    Official Classification:
    1st: Sam Bird [GBR] - DS Virgin Racing - 45:28.385 [PP]

    2nd: Sébastien Buemi [SUI] - Renault e.Dams - +0.716s
    3rd: Lucas di Grassi [BRA] - Abt Schaeffler Audi Sport - +7.525s
    4th: Stéphane Sarrazin [FRA] - Venturi Grand Prix - +9.415s
    5th: Nicolas Prost [FRA] - Renault e.Dams - +11.316s
    6th: Loïc Duval [FRA] - Dragon Racing - +15.660s
    7th: Nick Heidfeld [GER] - Mahindra Racing - +16.444s
    8th: Robin Frijns [NED] - Amlin Andretti - +18.685s
    9th: Oliver Turvey [GBR] - NEXTEV TCR - +22.007s
    10th: Bruno Senna [BRA] - Mahindra Racing - +22.456s
    11th: Jean-Eric Vergne [FRA] - DS Virgin Racing - +24.482s
    12th: Nelson Piquet Jr. [BRA] - NEXTEV TCR - +24.641s
    13th: Daniel Abt [GER] - Abt Schaeffler Audi Sport - +27.998s
    14th: Simona de Silvestro [SUI] - Amlin Andretti - +36.171s
    15th: Mike Conway [GBR] - Venturi Grand Prix - +39.581s
    16th: Jérôme d'Ambrosio [BEL] - Dragon Racing - +1 Lap [FL]

    Not Classified
    Antonio Felix da Costa [POR] - Team Aguri - 17 Laps
    Salvador Durán [MEX] - Team Aguri - 14 Laps

    Image Credit: FIA Formula E Championship & LAT Photographic
    Last edited by a moderator: Feb 8, 2016
    • Like Like x 2
  2. Philip Heck

    Philip Heck

    Great drive by Heidfeld as well, making up 3 places within the last 3 or so laps :)
  3. airutonpurosuto8912


    4:12 What a team radio!
    • Like Like x 1
  4. Steve Bird

    Steve Bird
    Racing Since 1978 Premium

    Good lad and great name :)
    • Haha Haha x 1
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