Sam Bird put his name in the history books as the FIA Formula E Championship made its historic debut on the streets of New York City for round 9 of the 2016/17 Championship.
In the first ever FIA-sanctioned competition on the streets of the American metropolis, the DS Virgin Racing team had a strong showing all day with Bird’s temporary team-mate Alex Lynn taking an impressive pole position at what is his first Formula E event. While Lynn, who is deputising for Jose Maria Lopez this weekend, lost out to the fast-starting Abt Schaeffler Audi Sport car of Daniel Abt off the line, he held station in second for much of the early running and undoubtedly impressed the huge crowds at the circuit before an unfortunate mechanical problem put him out of contention late on.
With Abt out in front, Bird had also made a good start to get past the Techeetah car of Jean-Eric Vergne, and the top group ran nose-to-tail pulling out a small gap to the rest of the field. Before long, Bird started to make his moves towards the front, first picking off Lynn before launching a stunning inch-perfect move down the inside of Abt at Turn 6.
With the British driver now leading, there was plenty of action further back on the tight and technical Brooklyn street circuit. All eyes were on the Abt Schaeffler car of Lucas di Grassi, who, with championship leader Sebastien Buemi absent from the event, was aiming for a big points haul this weekend. Having qualified tenth, he spent the race picking off places and by the chequered flag had reached fourth, with 12 points closing the gap to the front to 20.
Having had a strong weekend last time out in Berlin, it was a difficult day for Mahindra, with Felix Rosenqvist spinning while trying to defend from the charging di Grassi, while Nick Heidfeld suffered a mechanical failure which brought out the safety car late on.
Once racing resumed, the pressure was on Bird to keep ahead of Vergne’s Techeetah car, while Daniel Abt suffered late heart-ache with technical issues dropping him down the order. This promoted Vergne’s team-mate Stephane Sarrazin to third place – his first rostrum finish since Long Beach in Season 2.
The FIA Formula E Championship returns to Red Hook in Brooklyn tomorrow, 16 July, for another action-packed day in front of the Manhattan skyline, with the race starting at the earlier time of 13:00 EST.
Sam Bird said: “It was incredible! Firstly, it’s incredible that we are here and congratulations to everyone at Formula E for putting this event on, I can imagine how difficult it was, but it’s been an amazing week so far. We had pretty good speed today. We learned a lot from Berlin and that was a real turning point for us, it may not have looked like it at the time, but I think we demonstrated that this weekend. Also hats off to my team-mate this weekend Alex Lynn, who did a scintillating job in Super Pole to take pole position.”
Jean-Eric Vergne said: “As a team we have worked really hard this season and finally it’s our first double podium with my team-mate and that’s what I feel most happy about. As for myself I believe the start cost me the win. It was extremely dirty off line and everybody who started on the left-hand side lost a position. I had a pretty safe beginning of the race, I lost a couple of positions, which I knew we would get back again, and that’s what I did and I finished the first stint in second position. I pushed hard to save more energy than this guy [Bird] but he didn’t make any mistakes and he deserved the win.”
Stephane Sarrazin said: “I feels very good, it’s a great day for us at Techeetah. I made a small mistake in qualifying which meant I started from P11, but I knew I had a good car for the race and I started to overtake, and then I got a bit lucky on the last lap with the Abt going straight on.”
2017 Qualcomm New York City ePrix (Rd 9) – Race results
- Sam Bird, DS Virgin Racing, 52:29.275s (25)
- Jean-Eric Vergne, TECHEETAH, +1.354s (18)
- Stephane Sarrazin, TECHEETAH, +4.392s (15)
- Lucas di Grassi, ABT Schaeffler Audi Sport, +6.155s (12)
- Loic Duval, Faraday Future Dragon Racing, +8.428s (10)
- Oliver Turvey, NextEV NIO, +8.952s (8)
- Pierre Gasly, Renault e.dams, +9.321s (6)
- Nico Prost, Renault e.dams, +10.036s (4)
- Robin Frijns, Andretti Formula E, +11.019s (2)
- Adam Carroll, Panasonic Jaguar Racing, +12.073s (1)
- Nelson Piquet Jr, NextEV NIO, +12.977s
- Antonio Felix da Costa, Andretti Formula E, +13.341s
- Tom Dillmann, Venturi Formula E, +16.337s
- Daniel Abt, ABT Schaeffler Audi Sport, +1 lap
- Felix Rosenqvist, Mahindra Racing, +1 lap
- Nick Heidfeld, Mahindra Racing, DNF
- Maro Engel, Venturi Formula E, DNF (1)
- Alex Lynn, DS Virgin Racing, DNF (3)
- Jerome D’Ambrosio, Faraday Future Dragon Racing, DNF
- Mitch Evans, Panasonic Jaguar Racing, DNF
Sebastien Buemi, Renault e.dams – 157
Lucas di Grassi, ABT Schaeffler Audi Sport – 137
Felix Rosenqvist, Mahindra Racing – 86
Nico Prost, Renault e.dams – 76
Sam Bird, DS Virgin Racing – 72
Jean-Eric Vergne, TECHEETAH – 70
Renault e.dams – 239
ABT Schaeffler Audi Sport – 183
Mahindra Racing – 149
DS Virgin Racing – 125
TECHEETAH – 90
NextEV NIO – 59
Faraday Future Dragon Racing – 29
Andretti Formula E – 28
Venturi Formula E – 22
Panasonic Jaguar Racing – 21