Hong Kong ePrix: Bird win investigated after furious battle

HONG KONG STREET CIRCUIT, HONG KONG - MARCH 10: Sam Bird (GBR), Envision Virgin Racing celebrates victory in parc ferme during the Hong Kong E-prix at Hong Kong Street Circuit on March 10, 2019 in Hong Kong Street Circuit, Hong Kong. (Photo by Sam Bloxham / LAT Images)

Following a furious battle for first, British driver Sam Bird clinched a controversial win in Hong Kong as Formula E celebrated its landmark 50th race.

In second came Venturi’s Edoardo Mortara with Audi Sport Abt Schaeffler’s Lucas di Grassi in third, while a furious Andre Lotterer was left stranded on track after losing the win in the dying moments of the race.

Here’s how the race unfolded…

Nissan e.dams’ Oliver Rowland took the lead off the line as the pack made it around Turn 1 and through the chicane, leaving Poleman Stoffel Vandoorne (HWA Racelab) in second until Envision Virgin Racing’s Sam Bird, who’d fought through the pack, took his position.

Just minutes in, the race came under a full course yellow as Geox Dragon’s Filipe Nasr’s damaged car carried on into the wall on Turn 2, with both Mahindra Racing’s Jerome d’Ambrosio and Pascal Wehrlein then colliding with the stricken car, ending all three drivers races within the first five minutes.

Under the Safety Car, the pack regrouped until the race was temporarily stopped under a red flag while the cars were salvaged. After the incident was cleared, 13minutes were added to the clock to make up for the lost time under the red flag.

Out of Turn 1, Rowland fell to 10th when his car slowed, handing Bird the lead with an aggressive Andre Lotterer behind. Seconds later, Lotterer exploited Bird’s wide line around Turn 2, slipping into the lead.

Further down the pack, Vandoorne in third was holding back Venturi’s Edoardo Mortara in fourth, eager to relive the podium finish he had in Hong Kong last season.

At the front, Bird was biding his time behind Lotterer, keeping close on his tail while the German held the lead. Heading into Turn 2, the British driver made a move, passing Lotterer before the German reclaimed his lead through the chicane. Neck and neck, the two battled hard for the top step of the podium.

With less than 18 minutes left, Vandoorne stopped on track suffering a technical failure while Nissan e.dams’ Sebastien Buemi picked up damage to his front, left wheel through the chicane, ending his race early. With the Safety Car deployed, Vandoorne was recovered.

The race restarted with 11 minutes left to go, with Lotterer still in the lead, Bird close behind in second and Mortara in third. The Swiss-Italian driver has good memories here in Hong Kong after leading much of the race and securing a podium on his Formula E debut last season.

Further down the pack, Rowland stopped on track after snapping his rear axel following contact with the wall. With the Safety Car deployed, Rowland’s wreck was cleared and the race restarted with less than two minutes to go.

Chipping away at the German race leader, Brit driver Bird made contact with the back of Lotterer’s car, puncturing the tyre, leaving him helpless as the car limped home, unable to finish with smoke pouring out the back.

While Bird sailed over the finish line to take the win. Behind Bird came Mortara in second and di Grassi in third.

With the race finished, Bird came under investigation following the incident with Lotterer, with the result yet to be decided.