Envision Virgin’s Sam Bird scored the win in 2018/19 FIA Formula E Championship’s Santiago ePrix ahead of Mahindra Racing’s Pascal Wehrlein and Audi’s Daniel Abt.
It was a clean start from pole-sitter Sebastien Buemi in the Nissan e.Dams from Pascal Wehrlein as Sam Bird cleared Audi’s Daniel Abt to slot in third with HWA Racelab’s Stoffel Vandoorne in fourth from Venturi’s Edoardo Mortara.
The lower half of the Top 10 saw an incident involving the two DS Techeetah drivers when Andre Lotterer tagged the back of BMW Andretti’s Antonio Felix da Costa, who then hit Jean-Eric Vergne – all three bogging down the order as a result.
At the front though, with Sebastian Buemi leading, Sam Bird secured second in a fine move over Pascal Wehrlein as Mortara cleared Sotffel Vandoorne for fourth. At the same time, Mortara’s teammate Felipe Massa was squeezed onto the wall by Nissan e.Dams’ Oliver Rowland.
The Brazilian was forced to retire as GEOX Dragon’s Maximilian Gunther stopped on the start/finish straight while running well in the Top 10. His teammate Jose Maria Lopez was also then spun around in the corner by Audi’s Lucas di Grassi.
The fights were not over though with Mortara and BMW Andretti’s Sims going at each other. The Monegasque hit the makeshift chicane which led him to a spin, allowing Sims to take fourth after they all manage to clear Abt early on.
The Full Course Yellow was deployed to recover Gunther’s car and on re-start, Stoffel Vandoorne crashed out with a suspected problem while defending for track position. At the front as well, it was mayhem with Sebastian Buemi crashing out after hitting the wall.
Sam Bird took the race lead with Pascal Wehrlein in second as Sims moved into third and Abt in fourth. Behind them, the pack was closely bunched up with Mortara fending off Envision Virgin’s Robin Frijns, Jaguar’s Mitch Evans, Lotterer, Lucas di Grassi and Lopez.
The fight for the win continued on between Sam Bird and Pascal Wehrlein as the German chased the British driver in the end stages. However, temperature issues forced Pascal Wehrlein to take a step back which allowed Sam Bird to score his first win of the 2018/19 season in Santiago ePrix.
Pascal Wehrlein took his first Formula E podium with Sims finishing third but a drive-through penalty was converted to a time penalty which dropped him down the order with Abt then taking the final spot on the podium ahead of Venturi’s Mortara.
The Monegasque had to fend off Envision Virgin’s Robin Frijns which he managed to with the Dutchman in fifth and Jaguar’s Evans sixth as Sims slotted in seventh. Dragon’s Lopez was initially seventh but he dropped out as well with a time penalty.
The penalties to other drivers allowed Mahindra’s Jerome D’Ambrosio to finish eighth from the back of the grid and keep the Formula E points lead from Sam Bird by just the one point. NIO’s Oliver Turvey ended up ninth with Lopez eventually slotting in 10th.
Not making into the points were Jaguar’s Nelson Piquet Jr in 11th with Lucas di Grassi dropping to 12th and Lotterer in 13th on the lead lap. HWA Racelab’s Gary Paffett was classified 14th but he finished a lap down due to his drive-through penalty.
There was drama post-race though with race winner Sam Bird under investigation for underweight but the British racer was cleared off any charges, thereby keeping his win and the record to win in every Formula E season he has raced in – the only driver to do so.
DNF: Rowland, Da Costa, Vergne, Buemi, Vandoorne, Gunther, Massa and Tom Dillmann.