Sam Bird wins his first Formula E race for the Jaguar Racing team at the Diriyah E-Prix. He was joined on the podium by pole-sitter Robin Frijns and Jean Eric Vergne.
Since Formula E launched in 2014, Sam Bird has won a race in every season. Today, he continued that record as he secured his 10th victory in 7 consecutive seasons – his first since joining the Jaguar Racing team.
As the race began in Diriyah, our pole-sitter Robin Frijns controlled the pack with a comfortable lead. The top six of Frijns, Sérgio Sette Câmara, Bird, Oliver Turvey, Tom Blomqvist and Nico Mueller remained unchanged for the first few laps.
Further back, Alex Lynn struggled and dropped from 9th to 20th whilst Lucas Di Grassi was the big winner at the start, rising from 15th to 12th with ease.
At lap five, whilst chasing for the lead, Bird was told he was the fastest car on the grid. A few laps later, the team directed him to do the opposite of Frijns when it came to using Attack Mode.
On lap 16, Jake Dennis caused the first full course yellow of the day after a collision with the wall brought a premature end to his race.
This reduction in power caused issues for Frijns who immediately took advantage of Attack Mode. He then jumped on the team radio to complain of “over consuming” power and being “down on [his] target” of remaining energy.
As the full course yellow came to an end, Frijns and Bird battled for the lead, with the Brit coming out on top. However, this allowed both Techeetah drivers, in third and fourth, to close the gap and join the leading pair.
Da Costa and Vergne were not able to enjoy this for long. Da Costa went off the racing line to make a move on the inside of his team-mate. This saw the pair collide and narrowly miss the wall, resulting in Bird and Frijns pulling out a 2.2-second lead.
On lap 25, Sebastien Buemi’s Nissan e.dams machine came to a halt at the side of turn 3. Shortly after, Guenther locked up on the run down to the chicance and hit Blomqvist, bringing out the second full course yellows of the day and, eventually, a safety car.
In the same lap, there was a serious incident involving Mitch Evans and Lynn, leaving the Mahindra Racing machine upside down. It was this incident that caused the red flag which ended the race.
The Mahindra Racing team have since confirmed, via Twitter, that Lynn in conscious and has been taken to hospital for checks.
After the race, Bird was quick to congratulate his old team-mate Frijns on the “really fun racing”. After the pre-seasons rumours about Jaguar’s power train issues, this result certainly silenced the doubters.
Speaking after the race, Bird stated “I was a bit emotional in the car. It was a big move and a big step for me moving away from what was my family in Envision Virgin Racing to join Jaguar Racing, but they’ve welcomed me with open arms and I’m pleased to deliver this win.”
Frijns kept both DS Techeetah drivers behind him to secure second place. Da Costa narrowly missed on a podium spot, finishing in fourth behind his team-mate, Vergne.
Nick Cassidy in the second Envision Virgin Racing car came home in a brilliant fifth, enjoying a strong race having started in 11th. Despite a strong race start, Sette Câmara crossed the line in sixth ahead of Mueller, Oliver Turvey and Oliver Rowland. René Rast rounded out the top 10 and secured the final championship point as well as the crown for the fastest lap of the race.
Having been forced to miss qualifying, Nyck de Vries finished the race in 14th – naturally a disapointment after his maiden victory. His team-mate, Stoffel Vandoorne was the last driver to cross the line in 18th, having a difficult race and needing a pitstop early in the race, after starting in 22nd.
Despite a difficult day, de Vries has retained his championship lead, four-points ahead our winner, Bird.
The third round of the new Formula E season will be held on the 10th of April in Rome.
Feature Image Credit: Jaguar Racing Twitter