Sam Bird victorious in Hong Kong E-Prix thriller, under investigation
Envision Virgin Racing's Sam Bird claimed victory in a historic and thrilling Hong Kong E-Prix, standing on the top step of the podium in the ABB FIA Formula E Championship's 50th race while being under investigation.
Bird, who failed to secure a place inside Super Pole, lined up in seventh on the grid for the race while Stoffel Vandoorne secured pole position for HWA Racelab, joined on the front row of the grid by Nissan e.dams' Oliver Rowland.
Securing a strong start from the fourth row of the grid, Bird jumped towards the front of the field, clearing Edoardo Mortara, Lucas di Grassi, Gary Paffett and Andre Lotterer to move into third by the end of the first lap before dispatching of Vandoone to secure second.
A momentary loss of pace for race leader Rowland on the exit of Turn 1, who cleared Vandoorne on the opening tour of the circuit, allowed Bird to move into first position while DS Techeetah's Lotterer pursued the Briton after moving into second.
Applying pressure on Bird, Lotterer gained the lead with 33 minutes of racing remaining, with the Envision Virgin driver making a mistake in Turn 2 to drop down to second place.
Exchanging fastest lap after fastest lap, both Lotterer and Bird lapped nose to tail out on track, with the Briton placing numerous bids to find a route around the German driver.
Biding his time, Bird launched his attack on Lotterer on the penultimate lap of the race, rubbing the nose of his car against the right-rear tyre of the leader which ultimately caused the German's tyre to deflate, leaving a clear path between Bird and the eventual victory while Lotterer cruised to a point-less 14th.
As a result of the contact, Bird is under investigation meaning that his win in Hong Kong is at risk and is provisional.
Should the driver be penalised for the incident with Lotterer in the form of a time penalty, it would mean that the victory for the fifth race of the 2018/19 season would swing into the hands of Edoardo Mortara who finished in second place for Venturi.
Di Grassi, who started from fifth place for Audi Sport Abt Schaeffler, secured third at the chequered flag while Bird's team-mate, Robin Frijns, claimed fourth.
Daniel Abt completed the top five in the second Audi while Felipe Massa backed-up a double points finish for Venturi by finishing in sixth position.
Battling from 17th on the grid following a difficult qualifying, Mitch Evans secured points for Jaguar Racing by finishing in seventh place while Gary Paffett secured his maiden points in the championship in eighth.
Oliver Turvey delivered NIO Formula E with two points in ninth while Antonio Felix da Costa completed the top 10 as BMW i Andretti Motorsport's sole finisher, with team-mate Alexander Sims crashing out of the E-Prix.
Jose Maria Lopez was GEOX Dragon's sole finisher in 11th, missing out on points while Tom Dillmann was 12th in the second NIO.
Jean-Eric Vergne's season of woe continued in Hong Kong with the DS Techeetah driver failing to finish inside the top 10 for the third race in succession, with the driver finishing in a disappointing 13th place after being handed a five-second time penalty for causing a collision with Dillmann.
Lotterer was the final classified finisher in 14th following his puncture, with the Hong Kong E-Prix seeing a high number of retirements, with both Nissan e.dams drivers failing to see the chequered flag while Vandoorne suffered from a driveshaft failure.
Mahindra Racing experienced a double DNF in Hong Kong, with neither Pascal Wehrlein nor Jerome d'Ambrosio seeing the chequered flag after thei pair were caught up in an accident with Felipe Nasr which ultimately brought out an early red flag.
Hong Kong - Race Result
|1||Edorado Mortara||Venturi Formula E Team||25|
|2||Lucas di Grassi||Audi Sport Abt Schaeffler||0.988||18|
|3||Robin Frijns||Envision Virgin Racing||1.536||15|
|4||Daniel Abt||Audi Sport Abt Schaeffler||1.985||12|
|5||Felipe Massa||Venturi Formula E Team||3.258||10|
|6||Sam Bird||Envision Virgin Racing||3.306||8|
|7||Mitch Evans||Panasonic Jaguar Racing||4.071||6|
|8||Gary Paffett||HWA Racelab||4.368||4|
|9||Oliver Turvey||NIO Formula E Team||5.624||2|
|10||Antonio Felix da Costa||BMW i Andretti Motorsport||6.492||1|
|11||Jose Maria Lopez||GEOX Dragon||7.218||0|
|12||Tom Dillmann||NIO Formula E Team||7.825||0|
|13||Jean-Eric Vergne||DS Techeetah Formula E Team||16.604||0|
|14||Andre Lotterer||DS Techeetah Formula E Team||24.270||0|
|15||Oliver Rowland||Nissan e.dams||DNF||0|
|16||Stoffel Vandoorne||HWA Racelab||DNF||0|
|17||Sebastien Buemi||Nissan e.dams||DNF||0|
|18||Alexander Sims||BMW i Andretti Motorsport||DNF||0|
|19||Felipe Nasr||GEOX Dragon||DNF||0|
|20||Pascal Wehrlein||Mahindra Racing||DNF||0|
|21||Jerome d'Ambrosio||Mahindra Racing||DNF||0|
|22||Nelson Piquet||Panasonic Jaguar Racing||DNF||0|