Round two of the FIA Formula e series in Putrajaya came to an exciting close with Virgin Racing’s Sam Bird coming from twice being behind to claim his maiden victory in the all-electric open wheel formula.
Bird had looked strong all day setting the fastest time in free practice and qualifying 4th but was then promoted to second after penalties were awarded to both Nico Prost and Jerome d’Ambrosia.
The Virgin Racing driver stamped his authority on the race early on taking the lead from pole-sitter Oriol Servia after an early safety car, caused by a collision between Katherine Legge and Michela Cerruti. Bird then drove a solid stint, preserving his car’s charge allowing him to stretch his advantage over the field before being the last to pit and swap into his second car on lap 19.
Behind Bird the action was frantic with Beijing winner and Audi Sport LMP1 driver Lucas Di Grassi coming through from 19th on the grid to ultimately claim second place, strengthening his lead on the championship.
The Brazilian made his way through the field finding himself in fith place after the pitstops. He then inherited third place after an incident between Jano Trulli and fellow Brazilian Nelson Piquet Jr., seeing the latter retire from the race.
Di Grassi then snatched second place from his team mate Daniel Abt who had been struggling with power problems for most of the race.
Fresh from being crowned FIA WEC World Champion in Bahrain last weekend, Sébastien Buemi, who started at the back of the grid after not completing a competitive lap in qualifying, followed Di Grassi through to take the last spot on the podium, while his e.Dams team mate, Nicholas Prost finished a close fourth behind the Swiss driver.
The race could have been completely different for the young Frenchman who was tussling with team mate Buemi for third until getting held up by a slow-running Abt. This left Prost Jr, under pressure from Bruno Senna who used his ‘fan boost’ to get past. However, the last lap saw Senna hit the wall at turn 9, adding a second DNF to his season and leaving the door open for Prost to take the fourth spot.
All the action left Jerome d’Ambrosia picking up the pieces to finish fifth ahead of Indian Karun Chandock and Dragon Racing’s Oriol Servia. Closing out the last of the top ten positions were debutant Antinio Felix da Costa in eighth, Spaniard Jamie Alguesuari and, after nursing his troubled car to the end, Audi Sport Team Abt’s Daniel Abt.
With three points separating the top two drivers the excitement is growing as Formula e moves to the third round in Punte Del Este, Uruguay in mid December.
Charlie Price – charlie.price AT dervhead.com