BRITON Sam Bird produced a brilliant performance to hold off the charge of Sebastien Buemi and claim the first Formula E win for the DS Virgin alliance at Buenos Aires on the weekend.
Bird started the race from pole and controlled the pack from the front, just using enough energy to keep Buemi’s teammate Nico Prost (Renault e.dams) and then Team Aguri’s Antonio Felix da Costa at bay.
“It was really tough but I’m so thrilled. As everybody knows we merged with a great manufacturer, DS, for this season and the hard work at the DS Virgin Racing team has produced a really good car today,” Bird said.
“This is for the boys and the ladies who have worked tirelessly since Punta to give me a better race car. It was a really tough win, my hardest race so far. I look forward to watching it back.”
While the Brit was untroubled at the front, from the back of the grid Buemi was giving his all to try to work his way up the order.
The Renault e.dams driver pulled off an audacious four-wide move on the opening lap to ensure he vaulted from 18th to 15th in one fell swoop.
From there on he carved his way through the pack, picking off his rivals one by one, so that he was into fifth place when the unfortunate da Costa’s car ground to a halt.
The safety car was deployed and bunched up the field, and meant Buemi was now a realistic contender for victory.
With Prost running slowly as he entered the pits for the mandatory car swap, Buemi jumped into third, behind Bird and title rival Lucas di Grassi (Abt Schaeffler).
Di Grassi knew his best chance of victory was to attack Bird right after the restart and set about chasing down the Brit.
But in his effort to exert pressure he made a small but critical mistake. The loss of momentum allowed Buemi to get a run, draw alongside and steal away second place.
Buemi retains the overall lead after four rounds on 80 points followed by di Grassi on 76 with Bird third on 52.
“I’m really pleased with the result,” Buemi said. “I think that was probably one of my best races so far coming from the back to the podium.
“I was frustrated with qualifying – obviously it would have been better to bring home the maximum number of points again, but at the end of the day it’s another strong result and it keeps us in the lead.”
Leading race results
1 Sam Bird, DS Virgin Racing, 2 Sébastien uemi Renault e.Dams, 3 Lucas di Grassi Schaeffler Audi Sport, 4 Stéphane Sarrazin Venturi Formula E Team, 5 Nicolas Prost Renault e.Dams.
Leading championship standings: 1 Buemi 80 points, 2 di Grassi 76, 3 Bird 52, 4 Loïc Dufour Dragon Racing 32, Jérôme D’Ambrosio Dragon Racing 30.