DS Virgin Racing’s Sam Bird will focus on securing second place in the Formula E drivers’ championship after his points finish during today’s New York E-Prix fell just shy of overturning the deficit to title rival Jean-Eric Verge.
The Briton finished ninth during a frantic race in Brooklyn’s Red Hook district, but despite a valiant effort in the closing stages, he was unable to gain further places to continue his title bid into tomorrow’s second race and season finale.
Nevertheless, the 31-year-old maintains his second position in the standings, where he, and his DS Virgin Racing team, continue their strongest season to date.
With the mercury hitting 30°C and track temperatures up to 45°C, conditions would prove tough for the teams and drivers as the race got underway. Bird, starting 14th, with team-mate Lynn just ahead in 13th, made a strong start gaining ground early on and quickly moving into the top 10.
Being the longest race of the season, energy efficiency was always going to prove key with both drivers settling into their rhythm. At the mid-distance car changes, Bird was running P9 with Lynn now just a few places back.
Then, in the closing stages, Lynn spun at Turn 5 – the fastest part of the track – and hit the barrier cutting short his race and bringing out the safety car. With the race now running to time and two laps shorter, it restarted with Bird needing to move up the pack in order to keep his title bid alive. Giving it everything, Bird pushed and was soon up the inside of Nicolas Prost into Turn 1 but sadly he was unable to gain further ground, with Vergne finishing fifth and enough points to secure the title.
Bird said: “We gave it everything today but unfortunately it wasn’t enough. We knew it was going to be a difficult weekend with the extended track length and race distance from last year, but we’re still very proud of what we’ve achieved and the whole team has done an amazing job to put us in this position. My congratulations go to Jean-Eric Vergne though who has done a brilliant job all season.”
Team-mate Lynn said: “That was a tough race for us and the team, but we’ll put that behind us and look to come out fighting again tomorrow. Hopefully we can end the season on a high and ensure we secure third spot in the teams’ championship.”
Sylvain Filippi, Managing Director, said: “The whole team worked really hard today in what we knew was going to be a challenging race where energy management would prove key. With one round remaining, I know everyone will push tomorrow to end on a high and record our best ever season to date.”
DS Performance Director Xavier Mestelan Pinon added: “Congratulations to Jean-Eric Vergne who won the drivers’ title after a hectic race full of twists and turns. Now we need to focus on defending Sam’s second place and third place in the teams’ championship. It would be a great satisfaction.”
The final Formula E race of the season takes place tomorrow (Sunday) from 15:00 local time.
FIA Formula E New York City E-Prix (Rd 11) – Results:
1. Lucas di Grassi, Audi Sport ABT Schaeffler, 43 laps (25pts)
2. Daniel Abt, Audi Sport ABT Schaeffler, +0.965s (18pts, FL)
3. Sebastien Buemi, Renault e.dams, +2.583s (15pts, P)
4. Tom Dillmann, Venturi, +4.090s (12pts)
5. Jean Eric Vergne, Techeetah, +4.679s (10pts)
6. Nick Heidfeld, Mahindra Racing, +5.142s (8pts)
7. Andre Lotterer, Techeetah, +5.810s (6pts)
8. Maro Engel Venturi, +6.312s (4pts)
9. Sam Bird, DS Virgin Racing, +6.833s (2pts)
10. Nicolas Prost, Renault e.dams, +8.389s (1pt)
DNF. Alex Lynn, DS Virgin Racing
Drivers’ standings (after 11 of 12 rounds):
1. Jean-Eric Vergne, 173pts
2. Sam Bird, 142pts
3. Lucas di Grassi, 126pts
4. Sebastien Buemi, 110pts
5. Daniel Abt, 104pts
16. Alex Lynn, 17pts
Teams’ standings (after 11 of 12 rounds):
1. Techeetah, 235pts
2. Audi Sport ABT Schaeffler, 230pts
3. DS Virgin Racing, 159pts
4. Mahindra Racing, 124pts
5. Renault e.dams, 118pts