Sam Bird has maintained his record of being the only driver to have won an E-Prix in every season of the ABB FIA Formula E World Championship by racking up his 10th E-Prix victory in Round 2 of the 2021 FE season.
Robin Frijns got away cleanly from the pole position to fend off the attacks from behind. Starting from the third spot, Sam Bird made a clean move on the second-placed Sergio Sette Camara, overtaking the Brazilian at Turn 2.
After the first lap, the order was: Frijns, Bird, Sette Camara, Oliver Turvey, Nico Mueller, Tom Blomqvist, Jean Eric Vergne, Antonio Felix Da Costa, Sebastien Buemi with Nick Cassidy completing the top 10.
Despite the excellent qualifying speed of the NIO 333 team, Turvey and Blomqvist were unable to match the pace of the leading drivers. The British-Swedish made an error which saw him drop down the order to eighth.
In the meantime, the lead duo drew out two seconds on Sette Camara in third, with Turvey running a collected race in fourth with Mueller kept at arm’s length.
As Frijns activated his attack mode, he lost the lead to Bird, but was able to hold off Sette Carama. Using his power boost of 35kW, the Dutchman passed the Brit into Turn 18. Bird also took his attack mode, but that did not work out as expected as he lost second place to Sette Camara, slipping down to P3. Using the attack mode-induced chaos, Frijns pulled out a two-second gap.
In the meantime, Vergne continued his charge towards the front. The two-time Formula E champion passed Sette Camara for third. Just as this manoeuvre happened, a Full Course Yellow was diployed after BMW Andretti’s Jake Dennis was crunched by Pascal Wehrlein’s Porsche.
On Lap 22, Bird did make an important move at Turn 18 stick when he overtook Frijns. Behind the leading duo, the DS Techeetah pair came together with Vergne coming out on top in third.
Bird kept his advantage ahead of Frijns, but the final drama fell away due to a contact between Maximilian Guenther and Mitch Evans.
The red flag meant handed the win Bird with the Briton taking the triumph in front of Frijns, Vergne, Da Costa, Cassidy, Sette Camara, Mueller, Turvey, Oliver Rowland (Nissan e.dams), and Rene Rast (Audi Sport ABT Schaeffler) on track.
However, a post-race drama unfolded as Vergne and Rast were stripped of their point-scoring positions. Both drivers were handed twenty four second penalties as neither used their second ATTACK MODE activation. This demoted the pair to 12th and 17th through no fault of their own.
Speaking of his maien victory with Jaguar, Bird added: “I was a bit emotional in the car. It was a big move and a big step for me moving away from what was my family in Envision Virgin Racing to join Jaguar Racing, but they’ve welcomed me with open arms and I’m pleased to deliver this win.
„The whole point of the opening two rounds was to come here and score decent points and if you’d said I’d come away with 25 points, I’d have taken that. Robin was so respectful and a pleasure to race against which is exactly what you’d expect of his calibre. It was really, really good.”
After starting on Julius Baer Pole Position and being engaged in a race-long battle under the floodlights with his former team-mate, Frijns finally crossed the line in second.
“I’m really happy today, especially after having such a difficult day yesterday,” the Dutchman said. „The team did an amazing job to turn it all around.
„Hopefully we can keep this form for the rest of the season. We might need to keep working on the race pace as Jean-Eric and Antonio were closing on me towards the end. If we keep having good qualifying sessions, we are going to have a good season.”