BIRD IN NARROW FORMULA E WIN MATT AMES
THE VOICE OF NATIONAL RACING JAMES “Tandy will be perfect for his new role”
Briton Sam Bird claimed his first victory of the Formula E season after fending off a charging Sebastien Buemi in Buenos Aires.
Bird earned his and the DS Virgin Racing team’s first pole position in qualifying and led from start to finish in the glaring heat of Argentina.
Having held off Buemi’s Renault e.dams team-mate Nicolas Prost in the early stages, then Antonio Felix da Costa and Lucas di Grassi, Bird’s biggest challenge came in the final quarter of the race.
Buemi, who started 18th after a spin in qualifying, tore through the field and was up to fourth (albeit 12 seconds behind Bird) when a safety car – called to recover the luckless da Costa’s stricken Team Aguri car – bunched the field together again.
He passed Stephane Sarrazin and then title rival di Grassi with decisive moves, then piled the pressure on Bird in the closing stages. Bird defended brilliantly, and had saved a little more energy than Buemi to edge slightly clear on the last lap and clinch the victory.
The heavy twin-motor powertrain adopted by DS Virgin, and championshipwinning outfit NEXTEV TCR, has lagged behind its more conventional rivals in season two, but Bird’s squad has made particularly significant gains in recent rounds.
After a pointless opening race in Beijing, Bird bagged a podium in Putrajaya but retired in Punta del Este. His Buenos Aires victory puts him a comfortable third in the championship, 28 points behind Buemi.
“It has been tough,” he admitted. “Beijing was very, very difficult. Malaysia was a bit fortunate but we took the points anyway. We were unfortunate at Punta because we did show good speed there, and we were up there with the big boys again.
“Here we got the ultimate points haul really, apart from fastest lap. I’m absolutely thrilled for the team. It was a really tough win, my hardest race so far.”