Just Electric

Bird takes season-opening victory despite penalty

Sam Bird won the first Formula E race of the season at the Hong Kong ePrix despite serving a drive through penalty for a pit lane infringement.

The race included a 30-minute delay due to a red flag on the opening lap when debutant Andre Lotterer attempted to avoid Jaguar’s Nelson Piquet but ended up in the wall at the Turn 3/Turn 4 chicane.

A number of drivers were stuck behind Lotterer, forcing race control to bring out the red flags.

Techeetah’s Jean-Eric Vergne finished second with Mahindra’s Nick Heidfeld less than a second behind Vergne at the chequered flag.

Bird kept close to Vergne throughout the first stint of the race and was able to pass the Techeetah driver with a move into the Turn 6 hairpin.

The DS Virgin Racing driver was five seconds clear of Vergne after the pit stops and was able to pull away from the French driver.

Bird was around 11 seconds clear of Vergne when he took to the pits for the drive-through penalty, given for not stopping in his garage.

Vergne was battling with Heidfeld throughout the second stint with the pair rarely more than a second apart.

Despite Heidfeld’s best efforts, he was unable to pass Vergne and the pair finished behind Bird to complete the podium.

Nelson Piquet benefitted from a late penalty to Maro Engel, for max power overuse, to finish fourth ahead of Audi Sport ABT Schaeffler driver Daniel Abt.

Antonio Felix da Costa scored his first points finish since the opening race of last season, also at Hong Kong, with sixth place while Felix Rosenqvist recovered from an early collision with Luca Filippi.

Filippi received a drive-through penalty for the collision but came home 11th. A penalty for Rosenqvist due to power usage dropped the Swede to P14, allowing the Italian to score his first Formula E point.

Venturi debutant Edoardo Mortara was classified eighth with Alex Lynn ninth and Renault e.dams driver Nico Prost rounding out the top 10. All three moved up a spot after Rosenqvist’s penalty.

Reigning champion Lucas di Grassi was 18th after an early pit stop due to damage, with his long-time series rival Sebastien Buemi in 12th after his car had a shutdown during the race.

Kamui Kobayashi and Andre Lotterer, making their FE debuts, finished 15th and 16th with Neel Jani, also making his debut, was 19th and a lap down. Lotterer was later disqualified for leaving his car in a “ready to move” state in Parc Ferme.

Daniel Abt took the extra point for fastest lap. Dragon’s Jerome d’Ambrosio set the actual fastest lap, but a new rule for this season means that the fastest lap point can only be awarded to a driver finishing within the top 10.

1SamBird43 laps
6Antonio Felixda Costa18.083
16OliverTurvey1 Lap
17LucasDi Grassi1 Lap
18NeelJani1 Lap
NCJérômed'Ambrosio9 laps


Jack Amey

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