“I’m just so delighted, I’m so happy for the whole team,” says Sam. “This is our first win as Virgin Racing, we have worked closely with DS Performance since the start of the season to better understand the car and after all this work I’m ecstatic I won today, not just for myself but for the entire team. This win is for everyone.”
With so many lead changes in a typical Formula E race it’s a real challenge to hold onto first place from beginning to end, but that’s exactly what Sam Bird did today. After dominating qualifying and setting the fastest lap in Super Pole to claim pole position for the race, Bird knew he’d given himself the best possible chance for success in the Buenos Aires ePrix.
“It just felt good to be starting the race with just the track ahead. So far this season I have had a few cars in front of me but this time my grid position couldn’t have been better.”
Bird managed to head off Nico Prost on the run down to the first tight corner and from that moment on he stayed out in front. It was always an extremely close affair, but he came under intense pressure after the car changeover, first of all from Lucas di Grassi, and then from Sebastien Buemi, who pushed Sam extremely hard right to the very last corner. “It was an intense race,” says Alex Tai, Team Principal of Virgin Racing. “Of course tensions are amplified when you’re leading the race and the team had to remain focussed. Sam did an incredible job at defending his position and managing his cars’ energy and temperatures. I’ve always been confident that we have some of the most talented drivers on a very talented grid and I think Sam’s performance was a great demonstration of this. This is one of Sam’s best drives for the team so far.”
Virgin Racing’s other driver Jean Eric Vergne did extremely well, taking into consideration what little track time he had due to a bout of food poisoning during the night. Jean Eric missed both Free Practice One and Free Practice Two earlier in the day, which effectively meant he went into qualifying completely blind. “It’s been a tough day for Jev, he hadn’t driven all day, and to finish within one second of P1 proves that he is an exceptionally talented driver,” continued Tai. “I am delighted with today’s performance from the drivers and the team, the DS performance Team led by Xavier Mestelan have injected a vital level of series winning experience and capability, this combination with our existing engineers and mechanics and along with a great deal of hard work has earned the Virgin Racing team our first victory of the partnership.
The atmosphere in the Virgin Racing garage when Bird crossed the line was electrifying. After testing in Punta del Este, both Virgin Racing and DS Performance engineers were confident they had found some improvements in the car, but until the result in Buenos Aires they couldn’t be confident that things would play out as they had hoped. In the end, all of the hard work paid off, and to make it an even better day, the team’s drivers showed how popular they are with fans by both winning Fanboost.
Xavier Mestelan Pinon, DS Performance Director was also delighted with the team’s victory after such close collaboration. “This is a historic weekend for DS brand. A weekend that has offered Virgin Racing its first victory in Formula E and what a satisfaction to see all the hard work pay off! Let me just say a big thank you to Sam Bird for this absolutely exceptional performance in qualifying with the super pole and in the race where he fought right until the end. He demonstrated the power of our collaboration with the Virgin team and we will continue to work to progress and to live other unforgettable moments.”