How Bird flew to 2019 Santiago ePrix victoryby Graham Keilloh on 28th January 2019
The new spec Formula E continues to entertain and confound, as Sam Bird wins a crazy round in Chile
Images: Lou Johnson / Spacesuit Media
This year’s Formula E championship lacks nothing for entertainment. Nor for unpredictability.
We thought, after the first two rounds with the Gen 2 machines, that we had a pecking order – BMW and Techeetah were the cars to beat. But in Santiago’s round three they were bit part players.
Instead Sam Bird in his Audi-powered Envision Virgin Racing entry became the third winner from three, and with it vaulted to the head of the standings.
It proved a madcap and attritional event in temperatures that were thought to set a record for an ePrix and for that time of year more generally in Santiago – it taxed both equipment and the surface which broke up conspicuously. The wild element started in advance as Audi’s Lucas di Grassi imperious pole was quashed thanks to an obscure new rule around how much you brake on your cool-down lap. Di Grassi called it the "the most stupid rule motor sport has ever created".
Season two champion Sébastien Buemi led from the off for Nissan, but came under pressure from Bird who had moved past impressive Mahindra new boy Pascal Wehrlein. Then at two-thirds’ distance Buemi sensationally spun off, though added later that a software glitched contributed to the crash. It left Bird set fair for victory.