Bird wins in Hong Kong but faces investigation for Lotterer contact

Formula E

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Sam Bird won an incident-packed Hong Kong Eprix but is under investigation for a last-lap collision with Andre Lotterer.

Running earlier in the day had been wet, including rain between group qualifying and Super Pole sessions but the skies held off for the race, leaving an initially greasy track to steadily develop.

Stoffel Vandoorne started from his debut pole position in Formula E but was immediately gazumped for the lead by an incredible getaway by Oliver Rowland. Sam Bird made a similarly brilliant start, moving up five places during his first lap to have passed Vandoorne for second by the time they saw the start/finish line again.

Rowland looked as though he was making some headway on a lead, the drivers behind him preoccupied with Bird’s charge to the front but the race was neutralised before lap 3, when a multi-car pile up between Felipe Nasr’s Dragon and both Mahindra cars first brought out the safety car and then red-flagged the race completely.

Felipe Nasr, Jerome D'Ambrosio, Pascal Wehrlein, Formula E, Hong Kong, 2019
Nasr, D’Ambrosio and Wehrlein brought out the red flags
Speaking immediately after the retirement, where both Mahindra drivers (who started at the back of the grid) were forced into Nasr, awkwardly stuck into the wall at turn 2, Jerome D’Ambrosio said that Nasr should have been retired from the race due to clear damage on his car, “There was obviously something wrong with his car, causing huge amounts of smoke – we couldn’t see behind it, in a straight line.”

The race restarted, with an added 10 minutes of time to make up for stoppage and restart leaving 38 minutes remaining. Vandoorne seemed to have suffered during the red flag and immediately lost another place to Andre Lotterer, who proceeded on to menace second place Sam Bird.

Rowland’s lead ended just a few minutes later, in a bizarre incident where he seemed to accidentally activate the Full Course Yellow constraint setting on his steering wheel by accident, slowing his car on track. Moments later, the newly second-placed Lotterer took advantage by an error from Bird in virtually the same location – the wide curve of turn two – to decisively take the lead.

30 minutes remaining

PositionDriverTeamAttack Mode Activations remaining
1Andre LottererDS Techeetah1
2Sam BirdEnvision Virgin1
3Stoffel VandoorneHWA AG1
4Edoardo MortaraVenturi1
5Gary PaffettHWA AG1
6Lucas di GrassiAudi1
7Sebastien BuemiNissan e.Dams1
8Robin FrijnsEnvision Virgin2
9Daniel AbtAudi2
10Oliver RowlandNissan e.Dams1

With 23 minutes remaining, Lotterer and Bird were continuing to battle but with a clear energy advantage for Bird. Lotterer’s remaining usable energy continued to fall behind, until he was 4% below Bird and being radio’d warnings by his engineer.

Fortunately for the DS Techeetah driver, chaos was destined to disrupt the race further with Alexander Sims retiring after colliding with a wall and Sebastien Buemi clashing wheels with Robin Frijns, both bringing out yellow flag areas on the track. Finally for this third of the race, Stoffel Vandoorne retired with a broken drive shaft – a problem teammate Gary Paffett had had earlier in the season.

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15 minutes remaining

PositionDriverTeamAttack Mode activations remaining
1Andre LottererDS Techeetah1
2Sam BirdEnvision Virgin1
3Edoardo MortaraVenturi0
4Lucas di GrassiAudi1
5Robin FrijnsEnvision Virgin1
6Daniel AbtAudi0
7Felipe MassaVenturi1
8Gary PaffettHWA AG1
9Mitch EvansJaguar1
10Oliver TurveyNIO1

With seven minutes to go, an attempt at a recovery drive by Rowland after his earlier mistake took him out of the lead ended with a broken rear axle, stranded on track after hitting a barrier. A safety car had to be deployed while a tractor retrieved the car but at slow enough speed to allow the race to restart, lapping the remaining drivers with space for recovery.

This worked, seeing the safety car in with two minutes to go and Lotterer and Bird’s extremely fierce fight for the lead restarted. Despite a gaining third-placed Edoardo Mortara, the pair continued to duel for the win until the very last lap, after the chequered flag had fallen on 45 minutes.

Having spent much of the race defending from bird, Lotterer finally came undone when contact from the Virgin driver left him with a right-rear puncture. Lotterer limped on for a few corners but soon succumbed to the inevitable, Bird taking the lead and victory ahead of Mortara and Di Grassi. But the new Bird’s move was under investigation made for a somewhat muted ceremony, and a lingering question mark over the race’s outcome.

Race results (provisional):

1. Sam Bird (Virgin)
2. Edoardo Mortara (Venturi)
3. Lucas di Grassi (Audi)
4. Robin Frijns (Virgin)
5. Daniel Abt (Audi)
6. Felipe Massa (Venturi)
7. Mitch Evans (Jaguar)
8. Gary Paffett (HWA AG)
9. Oliver Turvey
10. Antonio Felix da Costa
11. Jose-Maria Lopez
12. Tom Dillman
13. Jean-Eric Vergne
14. Andre Lotterer

DNF Oliver Rowland
DNF Stoffel Vandoorne
DNF Sebastien Buemi
DNF Alexander Sims
DNF Felipe Nasr
DNF Pascal Wehrlein
DNF Jerome D’Ambrosio
DNF Nelson Piquet Jr

Video: 2018-19 Formula E round five: Hong Kong

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Author information

Hazel Southwell
Hazel is a motorsport and automotive journalist with a particular interest in hybrid systems, electrification, batteries and new fuel technologies....

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15 comments on “Bird wins in Hong Kong but faces investigation for Lotterer contact”

  1. The track was awful. What were they thinking, it made the drivers look like amateurs.

  2. Dutchguy (@justarandomdutchguy)
    10th March 2019, 11:48

    Vandoorne just can’t catch a break, can he

  3. worst race of the season, made even worst by the ending. Such a great drive by Loterrer only to be taken out in the last lap.

    1. Everyone would go mad if we had such a race in Melbourne.

  4. Bird punctured Lotterers right rear, no questions. He knew it himself in the afterrace interview, making excuses about some race last season or whatever.
    The track was way, way too narrow in places, but so have some of the others been so it unfortunately seems to be a choice they made to slow speeds down even more in the hairpins, which I can’t understand. Makes the cars look extremely slow and cumbersome going around the tight radius. And the chicanes have one single line through or you hit the wall, why?
    TV was focused on just the two leaders. There may have been some action going on but it wasn’t shown live.

  5. When was the race? seems like I missed this due to MotoGP.

    1. MotoGP races havnt started yet. And this race was 2 hours before the MotoGP warm ups this morning.

      1. I didnt see the race on schedule on any channels here in India, I thought the race was yesterday maybe during either of practice sessions. Probably the race was dropped in favour of cricket and football matches that are on schedule to be played today.

  6. Enjoyed that, fun season so far, lots of crashes and controversy.

  7. It’s official, Bird got a 5 second penalty, so Mortara wins the race.

  8. “Gazumped for the lead”? Help me out here guys, is this a British term??

  9. With about 7 minutes left on the clock, there was Murder She Wrote joke made by the announcer… If you’re trying to attract a younger audience, referencing a television show that was popular before that audience was born, and never aimed at a young audience in the first place, probably isn’t the best way to do it.

  10. Racecontrol took hours to determine bird was to blame. Same kind of incident with vergne was stop and go penalty during race. Looks like race control is run by A lot of amateurs.

  11. BlackJackFan
    11th March 2019, 3:01

    I still fail to see the value of this seemingly Mickey Mouse sport. The only part I enjoyed was bird’s punishment, although I would have disqualified him… 5 secs…? Bah, Humbug…!

  12. Does anyone have any spectator or viewership numbers for FormulaE? I’m wondering if I’m the odd one here, but it just leaves me cold. Seems to be going on in a vacuum and is unexciting. None of which seems to bother the sponsors who want to associate with green tech, and the manufacturers who want to develop their electric vehicle technology and market position. Which they can do at a fraction of the cost of F1. The fact is that none of this really relies on many people actually watching or following the races.

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