DS Virgin Racing’s Sam Bird has won the opening round of the fourth season of the FIA Formula E Championship, in Hong Kong, but that doesn’t tell half the story as the all electric series returned with a bang.
Techeetah’s Jean Eric Vergne started on pole position after he spun his way to set the fastest time in super pole, and he lead from the off ahead of former teammate Bird and NIO’s Oliver Turvey, who had made a lightening start from seventh on the grid.
However the race was stopped as soon as it was started after Vergne’s new teammate, Andre Lotterer under-steered into the wall and caused a barricade holding up several drivers including Nico Prost. The red flag was the first that has ever occured during a race in the series’ short history.
After almost half an hour had passed, the race resumed under the safety car, after a singular lap it was brought in, and the racing resumed with Bird all over Vergne, however it would take him almost half of the race to get past.
There was action left, right and centre whilst old rivals Lucas Di Grassi and Sebastien Buemi fought it out over sixth and seventh places, neither would go on to score any points after both ran into issues during the race.
Further down the field Felix Rosenqvist and Formula E rookie Luca Fillipi came together, resulting in a driver through penalty for the Italian.
The Battle for third place between Oliver Turvey, Nick Heidfeld and Daniel Abt was hotly contested until Turvey cruised into the pits on Lap 16 with a problem with his car, during the pitstop faze, Daniel Abt had a problem which dropped him down to 7th, losing him 20 seconds.
That left just Nick Heidfeld who cruised up to Vergne but couldn’t find a way past him by the end of the race, despite trying profusely.
Abt wasn’t the only driver to have issues in the pits as Bird under-steered turning into his garage, and crashed into team personnel. He was able to complete the pit change and came out in the lead, however was given a drive through penalty for not completing the pit stop in the correct place. Post race he was given a 10 place penalty for tomorrow’s race for causing the accident in pit lane. He was able to retain the lead and the victory of today’s race.
Engel was the cork in the bottle holding onto fourth place however was given a drive through penalty at the end of the race which was converted to a 22 second time penalty. Rosenqvist was also given the same penalty. Both were dumped from the top ten and Rosenqvist lost his point for fastest lap, that was given to Daniel Abt.
The action doesn’t stop after today however, as there is a second HKT Hong Kong E-Prix, which takes place tomorrow at 0700UTC.