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Formula ERace report

Bird cruises to Hong Kong win despite drive-through

Hong Kong ePrix – DS Virgin Racing’s Sam Bird overcame a drive-through penalty to take victory in the Formula E season opener.

Jean-Eric Vergne led from pole, but his Techeetah team mate Andre Lotterer going into the barriers at Turn 4 blocked the track and brought out the red flags.

The race restarted behind the safety car, and Bird followed Vergne for most of the first stint, before passing the Frenchman into the Turn 6 hairpin just as the pit stop window opened.

When Bird made his pit stop, he locked up on the dusty surface and hit the pit equipment and a crew member. He rejoined in the lead, but received a drive-through penalty for completing his car swap outside of the garage.

Bird has managed to build up a nine second lead, and rejoined fractionally ahead of Vergne after serving his penalty.

Vergne pitted a lap earlier which left him exposed to Nick Heidfeld’s Mahindra towards the end of the race. Vergne managed to fend off the German’s attack to secure second.

Nelson Piquet Jr was fourth for Jaguar from 14th on the grid, ahead of Daniel Abt who lost significant time during the pit stop phase, having battled Heidfeld for the podium earlier in the race.

Antonio Felix Da Costa was sixth for Andretti after nabbing the position from Felix Rosenqvist into Turn 1 on the final lap, as the Mahindra driver was having to conserve energy after an earlier stop. The Swiss driver was on the backfoot after a poor start in which he dropped to 11th place, and was then spun round by Luca Filippi.

Edoardo Mortara scored points on his Formula E debut for Venturi, taking ninth from fellow rookie Alex Lynn on the penultimate lap into Turn 6. Nico Prost completed the top ten.

Sebastien Buemi was battling for the podium before his second car shut down on the exit of Turn 1 after his pit stop. Although he got his car going again, he dropped to 13th.

Reigning champion Lucas di Grassi was 18th after being forced to swap cars early due to rear-suspension damage. The damage is suspected by Audi to have been caused by minor contact with Buemi, who attempted to pass his rival on the inside of Turn 1 earlier in the race.

Oliver Turvey was running in third having had a strong start from seventh on the grid, but a battery issue had him slowing on the track.

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Chris Stevens

Chris is a member of the Autosport Academy and has been writing about motorsport professionally since 2015. He has been one of the top Formula E journalists since he went to Donington Park for pre-season testing a week after picking up his A-Level results.

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