PUTRAJAYA: Britain’s Sam Bird put up a dominant display to soar to victory in the inaugural Putrajaya race of the Formula E championship.
The 31-lap race of the second round of the full electric car series began in dramatic fashion on Saturday when the safety car was called in following a collision between women drivers Katherine Legge and Michela Cerruti.
Once the race was re-started, Bird wasted no time in barging past pole-sitter Oriol Servia on lap four.
Bird quickly extended his lead to nearly three seconds within two laps. Not only did he have the pace, he also did not lose out on battery efficiency – emerging as the last of the drivers to make his car swap, pitting for a fresh set of wheels on lap 19.
The Virgin Racing driver emerged from the mandatory pit-stop in second place and made his move to reclaim the lead on lap 25 before cruising to victory in 51:11.979.
Brazilian Lucas di Grassi, the winner of the opening round in Beijing on Sept 13, came from the ninth row of the grid to finish second.
Swiss driver Sebastien Buemi, who started on the last row of the grid, finished third – just over a second behind di Grassi.
But the man of the moment was clearly Bird, who was delighted to come out on top against a field of drivers who have raced in Formula One.
“It’s always tough to beat these guys. They are at the top of their careers and this is one win I’ll cherish.
“It’s been an amazing week. We were quick from the first outing. Qualifying didn’t quite go our way, but we put it right in the race,” said 27-year-old Bird, who also complimented the organisers for the superb track layout.
“I had a great race and I enjoyed the challenging track. We want to maintain the momentum and continue to fight for more podiums.
Bird, who finished third in Beijing, is now second overall with 40 points.
Grassi leads with 43 points and was happy with his second placing on Saturday.
“I felt like I had a better race than Beijing ... although I won in Beijing. I feel that the track here is more challenging. It’s quite tricky to drive on and mistakes can happen although you have prepared the best you can,” said Grassi.
Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Tun Razak presented the trophies to the winners.
The third round of the 10-race championship will be held in Punta del Este, Uruguay, on Dec 13.
The championship, which pits 10 teams and 20 drivers in one-hour races on urban street circuits and touted as the future of F1-style racing, will conclude in London in June next year.