Sam Bird

After picking up pole position for Round 11 of the 2020/21 ABB FIA Formula E World Championship in New York City over the weekend, Sam Bird bounced back for a dominant win around the challenging Brooklyn street circuit, repaying Jaguar Racing’s efforts from a difficult Saturday that saw the team rebuild his car.

The win puts Bird atop of the Drivers’ standings with 81 points as the all-electric racing series heads to his home race in London later this month. However, on the other side of the Jaguar garage, the team was left frustrated missing out on a potential 1-2 finish after team mate Mitch Evans suffered severe damage to his car whilst trying to defend second position.

Evans’ misfortune led to a second podium for Envision Virgin Racing’s Nick Cassidy, the Kiwi rounding out a solid weekend in New York City after finishing third on Saturday. On the final step of the podium was DS TECHEETAH’s Antonio Felix da Costa, the reigning champion stealthily making his way up from seventh on the grid to secure vital points for his title defence as the series heads towards the final four races of the season.

The race around Brooklyn
Under grey skies, Bird got the drop on the field and sped into Turn 1, pulling a clean lead out of the tricky first complex of corners. Behind the Brit, his Jaguar teammate had a rough launch off the dirty side of the track, locking up into the first turn whilst defending from his compatriot Cassidy.

After breaking down in qualifying, Vergne’s day went from bad to worse as the Frenchman was unable to get his DS Techeetah off the line and was left stranded on the grid, bringing out the MINI Pacesetter Safety Car.

With the green flag out again by Lap 3, Bird wasted no time and immediately jumped to put some air between himself and Evans. After losing a place following a robust move from TAG Heuer Porsche’s Andre Lotterer for 7th, Alexander Sims (Mahindra Racing) was the first driver to make the dive to the outside at the Turn 10 hairpin, taking an additional 35 kW from the ATTACK MODE activation.

After qualifying down in 19th, Jake Dennis made some movements through the field to the just outside of the top 10, but the BMW i Andretti Motorsport driver’s progress was halted after clipping the rear of ROKiT Venturi Racing’s Edoardo Mortara and spinning the championship leader on Lap 7, the Swiss-Italian losing some vital positions in the process.

On Lap 8, the Jaguar duo, line astern, both dived for their ATTACK MODE. Bird was able to retain his lead, but Cassidy moved by Evans into second. With an extra 35kW of power under his feet, Evans quickly pounced on his compatriot with a clean pass.

With 15 minutes of the race in the bag, Bird looked smooth and control in the lead, pulling a gap of nearly a second on Evans and Cassidy, with the latter closely covering the rear diffuser of the second-placed driver.

A few laps later, Bird and Cassidy both jumped for their ATTACK MODE. In a perfectly choreographed piece of strategy, Evans allowed his teammate back through to keep Cassidy at bay with Evans working as a moving roadblock and allowing Bird to stretch out a gap of nearly 2 seconds.

With Cassidy having a power advantage, the Envision Virgin Racing rookie made his move on Evans to take second, sweeping round the outside before braking for Turn 6. With that place lost, Evans took his second and final ATTACK MODE to mount a challenge on Cassidy.

With that perfectly timed ATTACK MODE, Evans put in the fastest lap to leap up to the rear diffuser of Cassidy and dived up the inside for second at the Turn 10 hairpin. Behind the pair, after stealthily making his way through the pack, reigning champion Da Costa ominously clawed up to Cassidy for the final spot on the podium.

Rivals from the very beginnings of Formula E, Lucas di Grassi (Audi Sport ABT Schaeffler) spun Nissan e.dams’ Sebastien Buemi at Turn 6, the Brazilian coming under the watchful eye of the FIA and picking up a 10-second penalty for the offence.

On Lap 25, Bird continued to stretch his legs and run away with a lead over 2.5 seconds on his teammate, whilst a fight brewing build behind the leader. Da Costa attempted a move on Lap 27, engaging his FANBOOST but getting into the dusty part of the track it allowed Cassidy to hold the position with a daring defence. However, with the New Zealander appearing to be overusing his useable energy, Da Costa’s crew encourage the Portuguese driver with a message over the radio saying ‘we can get him’.

At the head of the pack, Evans was now facing pressure from not only Cassidy and Da Costa but now also the Porsche pairing of Pascal Wehrlein and Lotterer. Trying to fend off the pack the New Zealander clouted the wall on the outside of Turn 4, taking some heavy damage to his left rear suspension – immediately dropping back from second down to fourth after looking relatively in control of the pack.

Evans’ mistake left Cassidy in second now facing pressure from Da Costa in third, the experienced Portuguese driver trying to force the rookie to over-consume his useable energy in the final stages. With too much damage to the rear of his car, Evans was left in trouble losing places left, right and centre on the final lap. He eventually made it across the finish line in 13th position.

Next up it is London’s calling for another two rounds of the 2020/21 ABB FIA Formula E World Championship at the Heineken London E-Prix on July 24 and 25.

Jaguar Racing and Audi Sport to use new powertrains for Formula E Season 7

Formula E’s new season – the seventh in the all-electric series – began on Friday with two night races at Diriyah on the outskirts of Riyadh, Saudi Arabia. The new season sees updates to the regulations and three rookies – Jake Dennis (BMW i Andretti Motorsport), Nick Cassidy (Envision Virgin Racing) and Norman Nato (ROKiT Venturi Racing).

To support the teams during the global pandemic, Formula E and the FIA decided to extend the next homologation period, with manufacturers only able to alter powertrain components once over the next two seasons. Teams can either introduce a new car in Season 7, for a 2-year cycle, or continue to use existing technology before homologating a new car the year after for a single season.

Formula E 2021 Season 7 Round 1 and 2

Audi Sport ABT Schaeffler and Envision Virgin Racing, BMW i Andretti Motorsport, Jaguar Racing, Mahindra Racing, Mercedes-EQ, alongside customers ROKiT Venturi Racing, NIO 333 and TAG Heuer Porsche all opted for new machines for the season ahead. DRAGON/PENSKE AUTOSPORT, DS TECHEETAH and Nissan e.dams have chosen to delay their homologation and will be using their Season 6 package for at least the opening rounds.

Also new for this season, the tyre allocation will be reduced by 25% per single-race competition and by up to 50% at double-header events. Based on the Season 5 calendar and comparing to the previous allocation, this could potentially see a saving of 720 tyres with less emissions produced, which is a 29% reduction in the overall impact of the tyres.

Formula E 2021 Season 7 Round 1 and 2

Becoming only the second single-seater championship to gain FIA World Championship status is a true honour for the sport and carries enormous significance for the teams, manufacturers and drivers battling it out to be crowned the first official Formula E World Champions.

The Riyadh Street Circuit once again provided the spectacular backdrop to the opening events of the season as Formula E ran its first night races. The fast and flowing 2.49-km clockwise circuit flanks the At-Turaif UNESCO World Heritage Site and is largely the same as it was in the previous season. Track surface work has led to the reprofiling of some turns for slightly adapted racing lines that promote closer racing.

Formula E 2021 Season 7 Round 1 and 2

Sam Bird (Jaguar Racing) got the better of Robin Frijns (Envision Virgin Racing) – his former teammate – as the two engaged in a race-long back and forth under the floodlights. A red flag 5 minutes from the scheduled end of the race brought things to a premature end, confirming the Brit’s victory with Frijns following in second.

DS TECHEETAH’s Antonio Felix da Costa came home a net third after teammate Jean-Eric Vergne received a 24-second post-race penalty for failing to use his second ATTACK MODE activation, which saw the Frenchman demoted to 12th.

Formula E 2021 Season 7 Round 1 and 2

Frijns got away cleanly from pole to fend off Sette Camara into Turn 1, and Bird immediately challenged the DRAGON / PENSKE AUTOSPORT driver to make a tidy move stick for second up the inside of Turn 2. Antonio Felix da Costa banged wheels with Nico Mueller and Sebastien Buemi further back – passing the Nissan e.dams to take eighth spot with the Portuguese’ DS TECHEETAH teammate a little way clear in seventh and hounding Mueller.

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On Lap 5, Vergne pounced on an error by Blomqvist to pinch sixth and the Brit falling to eighth at the hands of the reigning champion a lap later. Meanwhile, Buemi and Cassidy diced for ninth, with the Swiss coming off best with a regulation pass into Turn 18 to set about hunting Blomqvist up ahead.

The lead pair drew out two seconds on Sette Camara in third, with Turvey running a collected race in fourth with Mueller kept at arm’s length. Meanwhile, the two DS TECHEETAHs hunted in packs as the Frenchman jumped for ATTACK MODE – his teammate following.

Formula E 2021 Season 7 Round 1 and 2

Frijns was next to dive for his first mandatory ATTACK MODE activation and importantly, he was able to hold off Sette Camara to keep within touching distance of the now race leader Bird – the Jaguar driver still to use that initial 35kW boost, and take the pain of going off-line to cross the ATTACK MODE loop.

Over the half-way mark, and Vergne’s charge continued apace with another regulation pass for third, this time on Sette Camara, just as Jake Dennis (BMW i Andretti Motorsport) was crunched by Pascal Wehrlein’s Porsche, which threw a Full Course Yellow (FCY) – holding the cars as they stood at 50 km/h until the circuit was cleared.

Bird had found his way beyond Frijns for the race lead just prior to that FCY, with the latter heading for ATTACK MODE number two but once again, the Virgin racer was able to bite back – despite Frijns saying he was overconsuming energy over team radio.

Formula E 2021 Season 7 Round 1 and 2

Contact between Guenther and Evans ultimately caused the end of the race via a Red Flag leaving bird to head home Frijns, Vergne, Da Costa, Cassidy, Sette Camara, Mueller, Turvey, Oliver Rowland (Nissan e.dams), and Rene Rast (Audi Sport ABT Schaeffler) on track.

Penalties for Vergne and Rast followed the chequered flag, however, as neither used their second ATTACK MODE activation. All three had not expected the sudden end of the race. This demoted the pair to 12th and 17th, respectively and nudging those ahead of them come the end of the race up the order.

Formula E 2021 Season 7 Round 1 and 2

Bird has not had a win for a long time, his last being 11 races ago. The weekend’s victory draws him level with Lucas di Grassi (Audi Sport ABT Schaeffler) in second on the all-time winners’ table with 10 victories.

There were the usual celebrations during the presentation of awards but on this occasion, it was frightening for all those present. Yemen’s rebel Houthis had launched flying devices said to carry bombs towards Riyadh and fortunately, the defence system intercepted and destroyed them in the night sky.

The ABB FIA Formula E World Championship heads to Rome on April 10 for Round 3.

McLaren Racing considering participation in Formula E


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