Chris Soulsby  |    |   0  |  26 January 2019

Sam Bird beats Pascal Wehrlein to Santiago E-Prix victory

Envision Virgin Racing's Sam Bird stormed to victory in a thrilling Santiago E-Prix, beating Mahindra Racing's Pascal Wehrlein to the top spot in a race of attrition. 

After taking pole position at the Marrakesh E-Prix two weeks ago, Bird once again secured a spot inside the top six Super Pole shootout, ultimately starting in fourth place following the disqualification of Lucas di Grassi who lost pole position after breaking Formula E's slow in-lap procedure following his qualifying run.

Getting a strong start from the second row of the grid, Bird maintained fourth place on the run to Turn 1, with polesitter Sebastien Buemi holding the lead from Wehrlein who started on the front row of the grid in only his second Formula E race start. 

By the end of the first tour of the Parque O'Higgins Circuit, Bird cleared Audi Sport Abt Schaeffler's Daniel Abt to move into the podium positions, arming his first use of Attack Mode after 11 minutes of running.

Within two minutes of running around the outside of Turn 3 to gain a 25kW four-minute power boost, Bird closed in on the back of Wehrlein who continued to lap in second position, clearing the German racer to progress further through the field. 

Following the deployment of two Full Course Yellows after an on-track stoppage for Maximilian Gunther and a shunt for HWA Racelab's Stoffel Vandoorne, Bird closed in on Buemi who continued to lead, placing immense pressure on the Season Two Formula E champion.

With Bird glued to the back of Buemi's diffuser, the pressure became too much, with Buemi crashing his Nissan e.dams car in Turn 7. 

This mistake from Buemi handed Bird the lead with 15 minutes + 1 lap of racing remaining while Wehrlein moved into second place, still with one deployment of Attack Mode at his disposal - something that the German driver used with six minutes of racing remaining. 

Wehrlein quickly closed in on Bird, placing pressure on the Briton for victory. With the field racing in 37°C heat, however, battery temperatures were critical and suffering from this problem, management became critical for Wehrlein.

Managing what was an emerging and growing issue on his M5Electro Mahindra, Wehrlein dropped back from Bird, allowing the British racer to take the chequered flag in first place, securing 25 points. 

Despite facing a growing problem due to the heat of Santiago, Wehrlein secured second place and a third consecutive podium for Mahindra while Abt stood on the final step of the podium, moving into the top three following a post-race penalty for Alexander Sims who made contact with Edoardo Mortara on the exit of Turn 9 - an incident that Sims questioned the nature of post-race.

Mortara, who recovered from his mid-race spin, secured fourth place to take Venturi Formula E's first points finish of the 2018/19 campaign while Robin Frijns completed the top five in the second Envision Virgin Racing car.

Mitch Evans was once again Panasonic Jaguar Racing's sole points finisher, with the Kiwi taking sixth while Sims' penalty demoted him to seventh in the final order.

Following Sims in eighth was Jerome d'Ambrosio in the second Mahindra, with the Belgian holding onto his lead in the Drivers' Championship by fighting through the field after starting in 20th place.

Oliver Turvey secured NIO's first points of the season by taking ninth while Jose Maria Lopez completed the top 10 for GEOX Dragon, with a post-race penalty demoting him to the final points-paying position after the Argentinian racer originally took seventh at the chequered flag. 

Nelson Piquet Jr missed out on the top 10 for the second race in succession, finishing in 11th place while Lucas di Grassi finished in 12th place as one of many penalised drivers, with the Brazilian driver shunting into the back of Lopez.

Andre Lotterer was 13th as the sole finishing DS Techeetah car, with team-mate Jean-Eric Vergne failing to see the chequered flag for the first time since the 2017 Paris E-Prix in Season Three. 

Gary Paffett was the final recorded finisher, seeing the chequered flag for the first time this season, one lap down for HWA.

Joining Vergne in retirement was a flurry of drivers, with Oliver Rowland, Antonio Felix da Costa, Buemi, Vandoorne, Gunther, Felipe Massa and Tom Dillmann failing to see the chequered flag.

Formula E's fifth season of competition will continue with the Mexico City E-Prix on February 16. 

UPDATE: D'Ambrosio has been handed a five-second time penalty for speeding under Full Course Yellow, dropping him to 10th place. This hands Bird the lead in the Drivers' Championship. 

Santiago - Race Result

Pos Driver Team Gap Points
1   Sam BirdEnvision Virgin Racing25
2   Pascal WehrleinMahindra Racing6.58918
3   Daniel AbtAudi Sport Abt Schaeffler14.52915
4   Edorado MortaraVenturi Formula E Team17.05612
5   Robin FrijnsEnvision Virgin Racing20.27610
6   Mitch EvansPanasonic Jaguar Racing23.7558
7   Alexander SimsBMW i Andretti Motorsport28.5906
8   Oliver TurveyNIO Formula E Team45.0594
9   Jose Maria LopezGEOX Dragon46.3762
10   Jerome d'AmbrosioMahindra Racing46.9841
11   Nelson PiquetPanasonic Jaguar Racing48.6350
12   Lucas di GrassiAudi Sport Abt Schaeffler49.5520
13   Andre LottererDS Techeetah Formula E Team74.7060
14   Gary PaffettHWA Racelab1 Lap0
15   Oliver RowlandNissan e.damsDNF0
16   Antonio Felix da CostaBMW i Andretti MotorsportDNF0
17   Jean-Eric VergneDS Techeetah Formula E TeamDNF0
18   Sebastien BuemiNissan e.damsDNF0
19   Stoffel VandoorneHWA RacelabDNF0
20   Max GuntherGEOX DragonDNF0
21   Felipe MassaVenturi Formula E TeamDNF0
22   Tom DillmannNIO Formula E TeamDNF0

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