DS Virgin advance thanks to Sam Bird podium 03 April 2017
DS Virgin Racing moved up to third in the Formula E standings thanks to a podium by Sam Bird in a tense and dramatic race at the Autodromo Hermanos Rodriguez in Mexico City.
The closing stages of the race saw Sam and team-mate Jose Maria Lopez in a chasing pack hunting down leaders Lucas di Grassi and Jerome D’Ambrosio, who had gambled on early pitstops under caution and were trying to stretch the energy capacities of their second cars far beyond normal limits.
While di Grassi was able to nurse his car home for the win, D’Ambrosio’s attempt to follow him in was foiled by late-race overtakes from Jean-Eric Vergne and Sam.
The DS Virgin Racing team had suffered a challenging practice but bounced back to see Sam qualify fifth from the disadvantageous group one, which ran on a dusty track, ahead of championship leader Sebastien Buemi and di Grassi. Lopez qualified second from the other group.
Both emerged unscathed from a chaotic second lap, with Lopez leading the race until the late stops by di Grassi and D’Ambrosio shuffled him back to third. Good energy management allowed the DS Virgin pair to pit a lap later than many other teams, giving them a shorter stint in their second cars and allowing them to use energy more freely.
For a while it looked as though a one-two finish was possible as DíAmbrosio was struggling for energy in second place. After fighting with DíAmbrosio for a number of laps, Lopez tried an overtake but lost the rear of the car in the dust and spun off track, losing a number of places.
A drawn out battle between Sam and Vergne saw their cars coming very close at times. With DíAmbrosio losing more energy, Sam pounced on the penultimate lap with an superb drifting move around the outside into the Turn 3 right-hander to secure his podium place. Shortly after, a collision in the stadium section involving multiple cars meant that Lopez finished the race in sixth place.
Afterwards Sam said: ďIt was a good race for TV and for Formula E - a race like this was fantastic. All the drama, lots of things going on, ups and downs, you donít know whatís going to happen next.
"I think itís really good for the championship. I was happy with the move I pulled on Jerome. I watched the battle between Jerome and JEV and I was in the mix as well.
"The team have done a good job - we struggled in FP2, so to come back with a third place is pretty strong."
Team Principal Alex Tai said: ďIím delighted with the performance of the team today, despite the fact that a 1st and 2nd didnít materialise. Challenging engineering and strategy decisions were correctly judged and both drivers showed their ability throughout the day. We can move forward to Monaco with a deserved increase in confidence.Ē
The result leaves Sam in fifth place in the championship, with the next race set for May 13 in Monaco - a venue that has proved a happy hunting ground for the Englishman in the past.
Triple championship victory for Ferrari at WEC finale 21 November 2016
Ferrari maintained its tradition of World Endurance Championship achievement by earning three titles at the season-ending Six Hours of Bahrain, with Sam Bird contributing a podium to the celebrations.
Ferrari’s triple success included the GT Manufacturers’ Cup, where their win was boosted by Sam and his team-mate Davide Rigon taking LMGTE Pro third place in the #71 AF Corse 488 GTE.
The result meant they finished the season as runners-up in their class. For Sam, the Manufacturers’ Cup victory was a second consecutive WEC title, after winning last season’s LMP2 driver championship.
AF Corse also took the team and driver titles in the LMGTE Am class, thanks to the successes of François Perrodo, Emmanuel Collard and Rui Aguas in their Ferrari 458 Italia.
Ferrari has won the GT Manufacturers’ title four times out of five FIA WEC seasons, while AF Corse has achieved similar success in both the LMGTE Pro and LMGTE Am categories.
Sam earns season’s first podium for DS Virgin Racing in Morocco 12 November 2016
Sam Bird stormed to second place in Marrakech to bring home DS Virgin Racing’s first points of the FIA Formula E season.
After the disappointment of the season opener in Hong Kong, where Sam led before being felled by technical issues, the 29-year-old Brit and his team targeted the formidable Moroccan street circuit for a fresh start.
And an exciting day’s racing saw them demonstrate the potential of DS Virgin Racing’s season three challenger, the DSV-02, in front of an audience of global decision-makers gathered in the north African city for a key sustainability summit.
A dramatic morning practice session saw drivers from all teams contend with the Marrakech track’s slippery surface and formidable corners, leading to a qualifying session that left Sam fourth fastest.
A strong performance in the Super Pole session put him third on the grid, but a penalty moved Sébastien Buemi down the order and promoted Sam to second. Team mate José María López suffered from a lack of running time in practice and qualified 13th.
A slick start from the leading pack saw early jostling for position, with pole-sitter Felix Rosenqvist retaining the lead ahead of Sam. The action behind them began to hot up at around lap 11, and on lap 15 Jean-Eric Vergne took advantage of being on a different race strategy to grab second.
The two leaders then pitted but Sam and Buemi - recovering fast from his penalty - continued on track for an extra lap, ensuring they would have more energy for their second stint with new cars.
A seamless car changeover for Sam laid to rest the memory of Hong Kong and he exited the pits in fourth behind Rosenqvist, Vergne and Buemi. The additional pre-pit lap meant Buemi and Sam both had a significant energy advantage over the two leaders, and they proceeded to hunt first and second spots down accordingly.
An exciting final few laps then saw Sam move on Rosenqvist as superior energy reserves allowed him to catch and then overtake the Swede on lap 31. From here Sam closed the gap on leader Buemi before finishing a comfortable second. López took 10th, adding a valuable extra team championship point to Sam’s tally.
Sam said: "It’s great to get points on the board. There’s still work to do, but getting a podium is a win in itself. Up next is tackling Sébastien Buemi. He’s on his own level right now. Today there were 19 guys battling for second place - but I have some ideas as to how we can move that up in Buenos Aires."
Team Principal Alex Tai said: "An excellent result. Through Sam, we’ve seen the true capability of the car. We now look onwards to race three - watch this space."
Sam’s podium came at Formula E’s first visit to the African continent, where it showcased the future of electric transport to some of the world’s leading experts on sustainability.
The race was an official partner of COP22, the 22nd session of the Conference of Parties to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change, which took place simultaneously in the Moroccan city.
And, as Sam lined up on the grid, he and his rivals were visited by Formula E CEO Alejandro Agag, giving a tour of the fully-electric machines to key names in sustainability such as FIA President Jean Todt, Prince Albert of Monaco and the EU’s Commissioner for Energy and Climate Action, Miguel Arias Canete.
Earlier in the weekend DS Virgin Racing had hosted an ’innovation summit’ at the team’s garage, where a panel of international experts discussed electric vehicles and sustainable technology.
"We’ve gone to space, we’ve done biofuel flight and we were the first to go non-stop solo around the world. Virgin is all about making sustainability fast," said Tai.