British ace Sam Bird made history today as the first ever winner of a car race anywhere in the five boroughs of New York with victory in the FIA Formula E NYC ePrix for DS Virgin Racing.
Virgin Group founder Richard Branson was on hand to see his driver, Bird, take the checkered flag in Formula E’s first visit to the Big Apple and joined him in the podium ceremonies.
“Amazing, who can say they’ve sprayed champagne over Richard Branson?” Bird said.
“It’s great to win for my team, DS Virgin Racing. And great to win as the first ever winner in New York.”
“Last year, we had Paris as the big introduction race. This year it’s New York. What a huge race it is for Formula E, and for motorsport in general. It’s really important that we’re here and hopefully we’re here for many years to come.”
Unfortunately the team couldn’t make it a 1-2 as pole winner and debutant Alex Lynn suffered a driveshaft failure that forced him to retire the race. Instead, the Techeetah team was able to capitalize on the day’s attrition and score a double podium with Jean-Eric Vergne and Stephane Sarrazin.
Also making the most of the race was Abt Shaeffler Audi Sport driver Lucas Di Grassi. Starting 11th, Di Grassi had a herculean task ahead of him to try and cut the point lead of the absent championship leader Sebastien Buemi. Di Grassi managed to pull himself up to fourth, diminishing Buemi’s lead by 12 points.
Di Grassi’s fourth place came about after a last lap retirement for his teammate Daniel Abt—running third at the time—promoted both him and Sarrazin up the running order.
The Mahindra racing team also had a difficult race in Brooklyn. Felix Rosenqvist had worked his way up from 17th to fifth before a spin broke his rear wing and took him out of contention. Nick Heidfeld, in the sister Mahindra car, suffered a broken suspension after running over a curb, bringing out the race’s only safety car with five laps to go.
But, it was Bird’s day in New York City, fighting Vergne in the two lap shootout at the end of the race and holding on to the victory.
— sam bird (@sambirdracing) July 15, 2017
— TECHEETAH (@TecheetahFE) July 15, 2017