Envision Virgin Racing must 'regroup' following Hong Kong penalty - Sam Bird

Sam Bird has said that Envision Virgin Racing must "regroup" ahead of the Sanya E-Prix on March 23 following the team's loss of its second race win of the 2018/19 season in Hong Kong.

In Hong Kong last weekend, Bird took his second race win of the 2018/19 campaign, although this was short-lived, with the Briton being handed a five-second time penalty post-race which meant that he was stripped of his victory.

The penalty, which saw Bird drop from first to sixth in the final finishing order, was the result of an accident between both himself and DS Techeetah's Andre Lotterer on the penultimate lap of the race when battling for the lead, with Bird clipping the German's right-rear tyre in Turn 2 which subsequently deflated.

With Lotterer sustaining a puncture, the triple Le Mans winner missed out on what could have been his maiden Formula E win, dropping from first to finish as the final classified runner in 14th while Bird meanwhile was temporarily victorious. 

Excluding Bird's eventual downfall post-race, the driver, a veteran of Formula E, demonstrated a strong performance on the streets of Hong Kong, fighting from seventh on the grid to engage in an intense on-track battle for the win with Lotterer, with this drive ultimately being overshadowed by the eventual incident and penalty.

"Of course, it’s a shame the race ended the way it did, but I accept the stewards’ decision regarding the incident with Andre [Lotterer]," said Bird post-race.

"As a team, we still came away with some good points, especially after a difficult qualifying session, and we know we have the pace to compete at the front, which gives us confidence moving forward.

"We’ll now just regroup, put it behind us and look to do our best at the next race in Sanya.”

As Bird was stripped of victory at the fifth round of the season, it was Venturi's Edoardo Mortara who reaped the immediate reward, with the Swiss-Italian driver taking his maiden win in the series while the Monegasque marque also finally stood on the top step of the podium in what was Formula E's 50th race.

With Audi Sport Abt Schaeffler's Lucas di Grassi taking second it was Bird's Envision Virgin team-mate Robin Frijns who was bumped up onto the final step of the podium, taking his second top-three finish of the season.

“It’s been mixed with the ever-changing conditions and our first wet race," said the Dutchman.

"We got unlucky with rain in qualifying meaning I started the race in P10 but having multiple safety cars and using my Attack Mode to good effect, allowed me to make my way forward.

"The team have once again scored some valuable points this weekend so that’s a real positive to take into the next race.”

Sylvain Filippi, Managing Director of the Silverstone-based squad, added: “This is not the race result any of us wanted. Anyone who knows Sam [Bird], knows he is a fair driver and Andre’s puncture was an unfortunate outcome of a great battle for the lead.

"We accepted the penalty when it was delivered by the FIA Stewards. Of course, it is costly to us, but we now look forward to the next races, where I am sure the fans will enjoy a lot more close racing.

"Yet again, we’ve shown we have two great drivers who are able to make their way through the field.

"To be leading both championships is a testament to our pace and my thanks goes to the entire team for their hard work and all our partners for their continued support.”