Following his double-win last time out in New York, Virgin Racing’s Sam Bird produced another standout performance to gain 13 places to finish fifth during today’s Formula E Montreal ePrix; moving him up to third in the drivers’ standings.
The Briton carved his way through the field from 18th on the grid to pick up 10 vital points and in turn help his Virgin Racing team to narrow the gap to third spot in the constructors’ championship heading into tomorrow’s season finale.
Earlier in the day both Bird and team-mate Jose Maria Lopez, who missed the previous New York rounds, had displayed very strong pace in practice. However, they were unable to show this in qualifying when a mapping issue limited their cars to 170kw of power instead of the available 200kw, thus compromising both of them.
Despite starting the 35-lap race 16th and 18th, both drivers gained ground early on running just outside the points when they pitted to take advantage of a full course yellow situation.
By two thirds race distance, Bird had been able to get passed Lopez with the two now both running in the points in eighth and ninth respectively. However, a mistake by Lopez after trying to gain further ground saw him make contact with the barriers at turn eight and cut short his race.
This brought out the safety car and when racing resumed, Bird continued his fightback showing the pace and control of his DSV-02 car to cross the line sixth. This later become fifth post-race after Renault e.dams driver Sébastien Buemi was excluded for an infringement.
“I gave it my all in that race and I’m really pleased to come away with some great points,” said Bird. “Of course, it was disappointing to have started at the back, but I know if we’d been at the front of the grid it could have been a different story, but it’s still great to come away with the result we did.”
Lopez said: “That was a disappointing result for us after making up so many places. I got out of position after overtaking a car on the previous corner and just made a mistake. It’s a shame because it’s clear to see the improvements the team have made since I last drove and we certainly have the pace to fight for more tomorrow.”
Team Principal Alex Tai commented: “When you have such a competitive car it’s frustrating when you don’t come away with the qualifying results you know you can achieve. However, the professionalism of the team meant we were able to put this behind us and Sam produced a fantastic drive to set us up for a great season finale tomorrow. I know with the pace we have, if we can start at the front we will finish there.”
DS Performance Director Xavier Mestelan Pinon added: “Sam once again proved that our DSV-02 car is one of the most competitive in the championship with a great drive. Today we know we made a mistake in qualifying and it reminds us how much every detail counts and the work of the whole team. Solidarity and the positive involvement of each are essential to achieving great results and tomorrow we hope we can put this behind us and end the season on a high.”
The second Montreal ePrix, and the final round of the 2016/2017 FIA Formula E Championship, takes place tomorrow from 16:00 local time. For more information on the Virgin Racing Formula E Team, visit: http://map.ds-virginracing.com/
2017 FIA Formula E Montreal ePrix (Rd 11) – Race Results:
1. Lucas di Grassi, ABT Schaeffler Audi Sport, 35 laps
2. Jean-Eric Vergne, TECHEETAH, +0.350s
3. Stephane Sarrazin, TECHEETAH, +7.869s
4. Daniel Abt, ABT Schaeffler Audi Sport, +8.592s
5. Sam Bird, Virgin Racing, +8.913s
6. Nicolas Prost, Renault e.dams, +10.058s
7. Mitch Evans, Panasonic Jaguar Racing, +10.457s
8. Robin Frijns, Andretti Formula E, +15.836s
9. Felix Rosenqvist, Mahindra, +16.764s
10. Tom Dillmann, Venturi Formula E, +19.320s
Driver standings (after Rd 11):
1. Lucas di Grassi, 175pts
2. Sébastien Buemi, 157pts
3. Sam Bird, 110pts
4. Felix Rosenqvist, 106pts
5. Jean-Eric Vergne, 92pts
6. Nicolas Prost, 92pts
7. Nick Heidfeld, 78pts
8. Daniel Abt, 59pts
9. Jose Maria Lopez, 50pts
10. Nelson Piquet Jr, 33pts
Team standings (after Rd 11):
1. Renault e.dams, 267pts
2. ABT Schaeffler Audi Sport, 234pts
3. Mahindra Racing, 184pts
4. Virgin Racing, 163pts
5. TECHEETAH, 127pts
6. NEXTEV NIO, 59pts
7. Andretti Formula E, 34pts
8. Faraday Future Dragon Racing, 31pts
9. Venturi Formula E Team, 29pts
10. Panasonic Jaguar Racing, 27pts