Nissan e.Dams’ Oliver Rowland said he opted to stay back and score a podium finish rather than push in the end for the win in Sanya Formula E race.
Having taken his and Nissan’s first pole in Formula E in the Sanya ePrix, Rowland started the race well as he kept DS Techeetah’s Jean-Eric Vergne at bay for the large part of the race. The Frenchman though stayed on his tail all-through.
The DS Techeetah driver eventually found a way past in a surprise move in the right-hander with Rowland then left to defend hard from BMW Andretti’s Antonio Felix da Costa, whom he gave a little nudge which he described as ‘within the rules’ battle.
The race was red flagged but Vergne survived the re-start to take his first win of the 2018/19 season, while Rowland settled for his and Nissan’s first Formula E podium. The British racer said it was a cautious call to settle in and score the points.
“On one side happy and on the other a little bit disappointed as I had a good opportunity there but JEV did a good job,” he said. “He surprised me but I knew he was going to surprise me at some point. I was struggling a lot as I had to lift very early.
“I am of course very happy with the podium and it’s been a while – I lost pole in Mexico and again I was leading in Hong Kong, its been pretty tough with three DNF’s and it’s nice to score some points.
“In the end it was just to consolidate my position, I didn’t want to risk too much. It was a pretty good race in general. I asked him [my engineer] in the race, ‘what do you want me to do? Do you want me to have a go or just finish second?’ They agreed [to the latter].
“To be honest, it was my thinking anyway. Maybe at some point, I could have had a go [at Vergne] but it would have been a big risk and I think after the last three races, it wasn’t worth it, so it was better to take the points.”
Having only got the Nissan seat at the last minute, Rowland has done rather well to adapt to the new team and the cars. He started well with a points finish but didn’t manage to score in the next four races – with three DNFs among them.
The team has had a tough run too as it made the switch from Renault to Nissan but were delighted to get their first podium and had heaps of praise for the rookie driver, who sits 12th in the standings ahead of his teammate Sebastien Buemi.
The Swiss driver was on-course to finish eighth when he was involved in a scuffle with Envision Virgin’s Robin Frijns and Audi’s Lucas di Grassi. While the latter two retired, he finished sixth overall to score some handy points after his own three race DNFs.
But the stewards adjudged him as the guilty party in the clash as he got a 10-second penalty which dropped him to eighth as a result. The Swiss racer’s day was already bad after he was forced to start the race from the pitlane, from where he ended up eighth.