Virgin Racing’s podium charge halted in Argentina


Virgin Racing’s Sam Bird and Jaime Alguersuari saw their race disrupted by a penalty and collision respectively as the duo looked set for strong results in the Buenos Aires ePrix until the closing stages of the race.

The foundations for their podium push were set in qualifying as Alguersuari locked a front row position as team-mate Bird grabbed fourth for the ePrix.

There was a setback at the green light, as a strong start from Venturi GP’s Nick Heidfeld and Audi Sport ABT driver Lucas di Grassi lost Alguersuari and Bird their places on the opening laps as both drivers dropped down to third and fifth respectively.

The Virgin Racing pair maintained their positions until Jaime Alguersuari became the first driver to pit for his car changeover and exited under a safety car, leaving him in sixth position.

Sam Bird came in the following lap for his car changeover, but his following error proved costly. On exiting the garage, the Brit drove through a red light when rejoining the track and was given a drive through penalty whilst in contention for the race lead. He dropped nine places as a result.

No doubt fueled by his error, Bird quickly set about a recovery drive and set the fastest lap of the race, a 1min 11.540secs, before later taking seventh at the flag.

“Today’s race was very exciting and I am sure that it was a very enjoyable race to watch, but I had an opportunity to win the race,” reflected Bird. “I was pushing to take the lead in the race when I was given a drive through penalty for ignoring a red light on the pit exit following my car changeover. This ruined my chances of winning the race. There are some positives to take from the race, however, as despite finishing in seventh we recorded the fastest lap of the race so at least we demonstrated our speed potential.”

He wasn’t the only one with his foot to the floor, as team-mate Alguersuari closed on a podium further up the track before Jean-Eric Vergne of Andretti Formula E team made contact with his rear left wing, costing the Spaniard time.

With a lap to go, Alguersuari had battled into fourth position and was pushing for a top three finish when Audi Sport ABT’s Daniel Abt overshot a corner and hit the Virgin Racing driver.

For the final lap, Alguersuari handled a damaged car with a bent steering wheel but competitively drove to the finish line to secure fourth position, in a much improved outing for the racer.

“I have to be honest, I am disappointed with the race today,” said the Spaniard. “It was very exciting for the fans of Formula E and it was an action-packed race, but for me it was disappointing. I lost a lot of time with the incident with Vergne in turn six when he made contact with me and then I got hit big time on the final lap and I had to finish the race with my steering wheel bent. I tried to do as best as I could, but it lost me a podium finish.”