Sam Bird was able to secure his first podium of the 2015-16 Formula E season in the closing stages of a dramatic Putrajaya ePrix on Saturday.
The DS Virgin Racing driver had battled his way through the field from his qualifying position of 14th to second, behind Lucas di Grassi. Despite all of the odds being stacked against Bird, he put in a strong performance to bring him the only DS Virgin Racing car after his teammate, Jean-Eric Vergne, was caught in a race-ending collision into the first corner.
Saturday’s podium finish came after the charging systems for Bird’s car blew with less than hour before the race, forcing his mechanics to rebuild the rear of the car in a limited time frame.
“This really is one for the team,” admitted Bird after the race. “The boys at DS Virgin Racing worked incredibly hard to fix the problems we had in the immediate lead-up to the race.
They were under huge time pressure not to mention having to work in baking hot conditions. We know that this Championship is about speed but it’s also about getting to the finish and we did that superbly today.”
Bird made his pitstop just before the halfway point of the race and re-joined the field in ninth place after a quick change. A mixture of a strong performance and efficient battery management helped the Brit battle his way through the field.
The pace appeared to be there for 28-year-old Bird from the start of the weekend when he ended Free Practice in fourth position. Although his Qualifying session had not gone to plan, the DS Virgin Racing driver kept a cool head in order to race back onto the Malaysian podium, just as he had when he took victory around Putrajaya last season.
It was with just over three laps to go that Bird took advantage of the mistakes made by both Loïc Duval and Robin Frijns, to move into podium contention. It wasn’t until Duval’s teammate Jerome D’Ambrosio’s suspension failure on the final lap that Bird moved into second position in order to add a further 18 points to his Championship total.
Bird is now third overall in the Drivers’ Championship due to his two successive points finishes in the opening rounds of this season.