DS Virgin Racing’s Sam Bird wins the Buenos Aires ePrix from pole position to take his first victory of the 2015/2016 Formula E season, as Renault e.dams’ Sebastien Buemi storms from last on the grid to second.
Polesitter Bird enjoyed a smooth getaway to easily shut out fellow front row starter Nicolas Prost and lead into Turn 1, with all the pack safely through. Lining up only 18th following a spin in qualifying, championship leader Buemi had already made up three positions by the end of the opening lap.
Bird initially maintained a one-second gap to Prost, but last year’s Buenos Aires winner Antonio Felix da Costa soon dispatched the Frenchman despite driving a year-old Team Aguri machine.
The Portuguese halved his deficit to the lead and was about to line up the DS car in front of him when an overheating battery forced him to retire. With plenty of action up and down the field, the ensuing Safety Car gave all the remaining competitors some time to breathe.
By that time, Buemi had already carved through the field and recovered to a stunning fourth. When racing resumed, the Swiss ace immediately shadowed Stéphane Sarrazin in the Venturi ahead. Buemi swiftly overtook his Toyota WEC team-mate to hoist himself up into the podium positions.
Right in front, Bird had his mirrors full of Lucas di Grassi’s ABT Schaeffler Audi Sport, with the Brazilian keen to find a way past and pull away from Buemi. Bird’s astute defensive driving instead allowed the points leader to hunt his main title rival down.
On Lap 28 out 35, Buemi pulled off a nice dummy move on Di Grassi to squeeze by the former Virgin F1 driver and move up into second place. So much was the competitiveness of his Renault e.dams package that Buemi looked poised to depose Bird sooner than later.
But the ex-Mercedes F1 tester hung on for dear life and managed to hold off the charging Swiss to secure his third Formula E victory. Buemi will find solace in the fact that he stays top of the standings in a day where he could have lost significant ground to Di Grassi.
Sarrazin finished fourth ahead of Prost, who had a fairly uneventful afternoon in Argentina. Loïc Duval scored valuable points for Dragon Racing, especially after team-mate Jérôme d’Ambrosio had withdrawn with a mechanical issue early in the race.
Returning from injury, Mahindra’s Nick Heidfeld was a strong seventh, beating Andretti Autosport’s Robin Frijns, who ran in the top five in the early stages but ultimately faded away. NEXTEV’s Oliver Turvey claimed ninth, while Heidfeld’s Mahindra team-mate Bruno Senna rounded the points-paying positions in an action-packed event.
Round five of the 2015/2016 Formula E season will see the FIA all-electric series compete for the first time in Mexico, with the Mexico City ePrix taking place on March 12.