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Double header – double win: Bird rules the streets of Brooklyn

Focus / ePrix

  • The extremely tight first turn became a literal horror for several drivers.
  • Lucas di Grassi was once again able to reduce the gap to Sebastien Buemi in the championship.

In a thrilling race, Sam Bird (DS Virgin Racing) took home an impressive victory with a comfortable 11-second lead. The Mahindra Racing duo Felix Rosenqvist and Nick Heidfeld followed the Brit in second and third.

The race in words

Sunshine, the fantastic Manhattan skyline and Lady Liberty greeted the Formula E squad when they lined up for the second race of the weekend. With six laps more on the clock, battery management was the magic word going into the hunt for those 25 points. Pole-sitter Sam Bird (DS Virgin Racing) got off the line well, but it was the second-placed Mahindra Racing driver Felix Rosenqvist who took the lead following the first tight corner. Just as the day before, the first tight hairpin caused a lot of trouble as several drivers reported contact with one another. One of the biggest victims was Daniel Abt (ABT Schaeffler Audi Sport) – who was in a race to redemption following his unfortunate technical DNF yesterday – as his car was badly damaged after getting a bit too close for comfort with Tom Dillmann (Venturi Formula E) and teammate Lucas di Grassi (ABT Schaeffler Audi Sport).

Folloing the lap 1-confusion, several drivers had to come into the pits earlier than they had planned. One of them was the third-placed Jean-Eric Vergne (TECHEETAH) who was told to repair his car following the contact with Maro Engel (Venturi Formula E) in turn 1. The German suffered from technical malfunctions as well due to the slight collision and found himself in the pits for necessary repairs just a few laps later. At the front, Bird had to no problems keeping up with race-leader Rosenqvist while Nick Heidfeld (Mahindra Racing) was catching up with the duo.

Another driver whose race did not go according to plan was Panasonic Jaguar Racing driver Mitch Evans. Starting from P12, the rookie was hoping to score some valuable points, but had to retire from the race after finding himself in one of the barriers. Therefore, race control decided for a full-course yellow on lap 9, just as Heidfeld had caught up with Rosenqvist and Bird, creating the perfect scenario for the restart of the full-speed action.

Yesterday’s hero Alex Lynn (DS Virgin Racing) experienced a difficult weekend and had to retire from the race with 29 laps still to go. As the Brit’s car was standing on the middle of the straight following turn 1, another full-course yellow was announced. Several drivers such as Rosenqist, Heidfeld and di Grassi used this to swap cars, with race leader Bird following one lap later. Andretti Formula E driver Robin Frijns was the only driver still in the race who decided for a more risky strategy, staying out until lap 28. With the full-course yellow over, Bird was still leading ahead of the Mahindra Racing duo, Gasly and the yet-to-stop Frijns. Following the Dutch’s stop, di Grassi regained his fifth place.

Race leader Bird was the first to change into his second car on lap 21, handing the lead back to Abt who decided to stay out for an additional lap. After all driver completed their mandatory stop, Bird was leading the race ahead of Vergne, Abt and Stephane Sarrazin (TECHEETAH) who quietly, yet successfully made his way through the field. Di Grassi – sixth following the car swaps – then had to let a quick Felix Rosenqvist (Mahindra Racing) past but was able to get his sixth place back just moments later.

Seemingly suffering from problems with his car, today’s little hero Lynn had to retire from the race on lap 25. It was an unfortunate end to the most impressive debut shown in Formula E ever since Vergne joined the series back at the Punta del Este in December 2014. FanBoost-winner di Grassi found himself in a Mahindra Racing sandwich, trying to attack Rosenqvist while defending his position against Heidfeld at the same time.

In time for a thrilling last third of the race, Nicolas Prost (Renault e.dams) had caught up with the fifth-placed di Grassi and started to put immense pressure on the Brazilian. Further down at the lower end of the top-ten, The Faraday Fute Dragon Racing driver Loic Duval and Jerome d’Ambrosio were in an intense and incident-filled with Antonio Felix da Costa (Andretti Formula E). On lap 37, Heidfeld easily got past teammate Rosenqvist, suggesting the young Swede was maybe struggling from some issues and thus letting Heidfeld past on purpose.

Meanwhile, a rather black day for Nelson Piquet JR (NextEV NIO) became even darker as the season 1-champion was handed a drive-through penalty as he did not serve his 10-second-penalty – handed to him earlier on due to an e-motor change – during his car change. This meant Piquet JR dropped to P16 which essentially made him the last driver still in the race as Lynn, Engel, Abt and Evans all retired earlier on.

The last nine laps of the race went by rather quickly and quietly apart from the continuing intense battle between the Faraday Future Dragon Racing’s and da Costa. The latter collided with Duval in turn 1 and was thus handed a drive-through penalty. With one lap to go, Heidfeld let his teammate Rosenqvist past again. The two Mahindra Racing’s did not come across the finish line without any further excitement though, as Gasly all out of the sudden found himself right behind them. He then hit the wall battling for P3 with HEidfeld and catapulted one of the TechPro-barriers onto the straight which luckily did not harm any of the other drivers. Sam Bird meanwhile won the race with a comfortable 11-second lead, making it one of the most dominant wins in recent Formula E history. On a different note, di Grassi took home ten more points, making it a ten-point difference between him and Buemi in the championship heading into the final race weekend of the season.

The race in numbers

  • Sam Bird
  • Felix Rosenqvist
  • Sam Bird
  • Felix Rosenqvist
  • Nick Heidfeld
Robin Frijns
Nicolas Prost
Adam Carroll
Maro Engel
Daniel Abt
Mitch Evans

The fastest lap was set by Daniel Abt (ABT Schaeffler Audi Sport) with an impressive 1.03.898.

Pierre Gasly
Felix Rosenqvist
Robin Frijns

Surprisingly only eight drivers were able to improve their FP3 time in qualifying. Pierre Gasly (Renault e.dams) who was the surprise of today’s qualifying, found 1.300 seconds on the challenging track. After struggling from problems in FP3, Rosenqvist’s (Mahindra Racing) time in qualifying was 1.067 seconds faster and Robin Frijns (Andretti Formula E) improved his time by 0.613 seconds.

Sebastien Buemi - 157 points
Lucas di Grassi - 147 points
Felix Rosenqvist - 104 points
Renault e.Dams - 259 points
Abt Schaeffler Audi Sport - 194 points
Mahindra Racing - 182 points

Who is your driver of the race? Let us know!

ANTONIA GRZELAK | e-racing.net

Image courtesy of FIA Formula E Media

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