On lap 23 the battle for first place came to a dramatic end – a small error saw Bird lock up his brakes and skid into a tyre wall at turn five. Whilst there was only minor damage to the car, Bird lost five places and his chance of victory.
“It’s a hard one to swallow knowing we could have scored 21 points and instead we only have 11. I was very comfortable in second place and was confident I could have pushed Lucas for the victory. But qualifying proved we are fast and that’s what I’m focusing on,” said Bird.
Bird was initially set to start the famous 2.13km track in second position behind Team Aguri’s Antonio Felix Da Costa after finishing top of his group during qualifying and second in Superpole with a lap time of 57.261. However, Da Costa was excluded and relegated to the back of the grid because of a tyre infringement, leaving Bird to start from the very front. Bird’s teammate Jean- Éric Vergne posted a qualifying lap that left him to start in 11th position.
After his incident, Bird fought back and continued the race behind Bruno Senna, applying huge amounts of pressure to force past, but Senna was able to defend until the end.
“Obviously I’m very disappointed as I believe it was a driver error and for that I apologise to the team. It’s difficult knowing that the final result should have been a lot better today, but the engineering capabilities of this team are extremely strong, qualifying proved that,” he said. “Starting from pole position the expectation was of a podium finish at a bare minimum, and I would have delivered that if not for the error. But I’m pleased that I could still bring some points home for the team.”
Further down the grid Jean- Éric Vergne was in a battle of his own fending off Antonio Felix Da Costa who was slowly climbing back through the pack. Vergne eventually finished 13th.
“I’m looking forward to Paris, there’s still half of the season to play for and I am going to work hard to better understand the car so I can improve,” said Vergne. “Today was another difficult race and I believe it’s time to turn it around looking ahead to the European races.”
Despite the setbacks, Team Principal Alex Tai remains confident: “These things happen, the DS Virgin Racing drivers work very hard and it was an unfortunate error for Sam. What we need to focus on is that both our drivers did extremely well during qualifying, proving once again that we are a competitive team. Sam is still 3rd and as a team we are 4th overall in the championship.”
Amidst the disappointment on a podium lost, Head of DS Performance, Xavier Mestelan Pinon commented: “With regards to Jean-Éric, he has damaged the suspension during this race and I think he’s felt a little handicapped. We’ve worked hard to improve the DSV-01 and we will continue to do so, especially with Paris on the horizon.”
The Formula E series will be heading to Europe for the remainder of the season, starting with a specially-made track around Les Invalides in Paris, home to DS, which will take place on 23 April.
Pos / Driver / Team / Points
1 Lucas DI GRASSI ABT Schaeffler Audi Sport 101
2 Sébastien BUEMI Renault e.Dams 100
3 SAM BIRD DS VIRGIN RACING FORMULA E TEAM 71
4 Jérôme D’AMBROSIO Dragon Racing 64
5 Stéphane SARRAZIN Venturi Formula E Team 48
6 Loïc DUVAL Dragon Racing 48
7 Nick HEIDFELD Mahindra Racing Formula E Team 39
8 Nicolas PROST Renault e.Dams 38
9 Robin FRIJNS Andretti Formula E Race Team 31
10 Daniel ABT ABT Schaeffler Audi Sport 31
11 Bruno SENNA Mahindra Racing Formula E Team 22
12 Antonio FELIX DA COSTA Team Aguri 16
13 Oliver TURVEY NEXTEV TCR Formula E Team 10
14 JEAN- ÉRIC VERGNE DS VIRGIN RACING FORMULA E TEAM 6
15 Nelson PIQUET JR NEXTEV TCR Formula E Team 4
16 Nathanaël BERTHON Team Aguri 4
17 Simona DE SILVESTRO Andretti Formula E Race Team 2
18 Mike CONWAY Venturi Formula E Team 1
19 Jacques VILLENEUVE Venturi Formula E Team 0
20 Oliver ROWLAND Mahindra Racing Formula E Team 0
21 Salvador DURAN Team Aguri 0
FIA Formula E Championship 2015-16 – Driver Standings
FIA Formula E Championship 2015-16 – Team standings
Pos. / Team / Points
1 Renault e.Dams 138
2 ABT Schaeffler Audi Sport 132
3 Dragon Racing 112
4 DS VIRGIN RACING FORMULA E TEAM 77
5 Mahindra Racing Formula E Team 61
6 Venturi Formula E Team 49
7 Andretti Formula E Race Team 33
8 Team Aguri 20
9 NEXTEV TCR Formula E Team 14
For more information on the DS Virgin Racing Formula E Team, please visit the website: www.ds-virginracing.com.