26 Jan 19

Bird storms to victory in sweltering Santiago showdown

After surviving the sweltering heat in Santiago, it was Envision Virgin Racing's Sam Bird who emerged victorious in Parque O'Higgins, closely followed by Mahindra Racing's rookie driver Pascal Wehrlein, who stormed to second with Audi Sport Abt Schaeffler's Daniel Abt inheriting third. 

Polesitter Sebastien Buemi led the way while Envision Virgin Racing's Sam Bird wasted no time in moving past Audi Abt Sport Schaeffler's Daniel Apt. 

Stopping on track just a few minutes into the race was NIO's Tom Dillmann, who picked up damage after hitting bodywork debris on track. With record temperatures in Santiago - 45 degrees Celsius on track - the race is the hottest in the history of the ABB FIA Formula E Championship. 

The ATTACK MODE activation zone - in which drives can pick up an additional 25kW of power by going wide of the racing line - opened, with drivers permitted to collect the boost twice throughout the race. Each boost lasts four minutes.  

Both Audi's Lucas di Grassi and Geox Dragon's Maximilian Guenther came under investigation after cutting the chicane. Di Grassi, whos times in Qualifying and Super Pole were good enough to see him clinch the Julius Baer Pole Position, was relegated to the back of the grid after his times were cancelled by the FIA for breaking the regulations on the in-lap when returning to the pits.  

Like a repeat of the DS Techeetah's epic collision in Santiago last season, Andre Lotterer once again hit into the back of his teammate - albeit channelling the energy through BMW i Andretti Motorsport's Antonio Felix da Costa - sending Jean-Eric Vergne spinning into oncoming traffic, sending the Frenchman and da Costa to 20th and 21st respectively. 

With 30 minutes left, Buemi led the way with Bird now in second and Mahindra's Pascal Wehrlein in third. With nearly all 22 cars and drivers trading knocks and bodywork through the tight streets of Santiago, the Full Course Yellow was deployed with 25 minutes left of the race after Max Guenther's car stopped on track. 

With the racing restarted, Bird and Buemi went head to head at the front of the pack. Meanwhile, HWA Racelab's Stoffel Vandoorne understeered with the wall on the exit of Turn 3 while trying to defend, losing both front wings and damaging the back of his car. With the Full Course Yellow deployed again, racing restarted with 18 minutes left. 

Still fighting in third, Mahindra rookie driver Wehrlein kept close to Bird and race leader Buemi. After a miserable debut in Marrakesh, in which his race lasted only a few minutes, the new Mahindra driver looked to be heading for a podium finish. 

With just 15 minutes to go, Buemi overran through the chicane (Turn 6/7) - the same place he crashed out in Practice 1 - and shattered the front of his car. Limping around to the pitlane, the Swiss driver's hopes of a podium finish were dashed as he retired. Shortly after, Frenchman and reigning champion Jean-Eric Vergne retired after he spun going into to Turn 3 as did BMW i's da Costa, reducing the field to just 15 running cars. 

Sims, after his hopes of a sure one-two win were dashed in Marrakesh had made his way to third, behind Wehrlein in second and Bird in the lead. In the middle of the pack, the battle raged between Envision's Robin Frijns, Venturi's Edoardo Mortara, Panasonic Jaguar Racing's Mitch Evans and DS Techeetah's Andre Lotterer. 

Hungry for the win on his first full Formula E race, rookie Wehrlein went on the attack, challenging seasoned driver Sam Bird with just a few minutes to go. Battling with the heat and crippling track temperatures, Wehrlein's car started to suffer, trailing behind Sam Bird who extended his lead to take the chequered flag. Close behind was Wehrlein with Sims crossing the line in third. Despite the BMW drivers provisional podium finish, a time penalty for causing a collision, handed Audi's Daniel Abt third.