Bird clinches dramatic Santiago win as Buemi crashes while leading
For two-thirds of the running, it looked as though Buemi would end his 19-month win drought as he led from the start with Bird and the impressive Wehrlein leading the chase.
With around 15 minutes remaining of the 45-minute race, Buemi suffered a brake issue and made hard contact with the wall, causing irreparable damage to his Nissan e.dams car and was forced into retirement.
A full course yellow was triggered as a result of Buemi’s shunt, and at the restart, Bird activated attack mode in an attempt to extend his lead over second-placed Wehrlein.
Bird was unable to find the breathing space he needed, and with around 5 minutes left on the clock, Wehrlein used his attack mode to close right up on Bird to setup a tense final few laps.
Wehrlein appeared to have the pace to pass Bird, but upon starting the last lap, the German slowed dramatically with temperature concerns, enabling a relieved Bird to extend his lead to six-seconds to secure an eighth Formula E career victory.
Audi’s Daniel Abt had a relatively uneventful afternoon on course to third place but only inherited the final podium spot when BMW Andretti’s Alexander Sims was penalised on the last lap for an earlier incident with Venturi’s Edoardo Mortara.
Venturi scored its first championship points of the season through Mortara’s combative drive to fourth place, with the Swiss-Italian surviving contact from the BMW of Sims midway through the race to secure his best Formula E result since last season’s Hong Kong E-Prix, 13 months ago.
Robin Frijns capped off a memorable day all round for the Virgin Racing team as he recovered from a 16th place grid start to salvage a superb fifth place, and almost stole fourth after pressuring Mortara on the final lap.
Mitch Evans continued his strong start to the season with a third consecutive points-finish for Jaguar. The Kiwi started outside of the top 10 but kept out of trouble to climb up through the order to finish sixth.
Sims had worked his way up from eighth on the grid in his BMW to run fourth in the closing stages and looked on course to grab the last podium spot when Buemi retired. As a result of his earlier collision with Mortara, however, Sims was awarded a time penalty on the final lap which dropped him to seventh in the order.
Marrakesh E-Prix victor Jerome d’Ambrosio recovered superbly to salvage eighth place from his 20th place starting spot to add to Mahindra’s strong start to the season.
Oliver Turvey finished in ninth to secure the NIO team’s first points of the season, while Jose Maria Lopez came home in 10th place to get his Dragon team off the mark.
There were eight retirements, including champion Jean-Eric Vergne, Ad Diriyah E-Prix winner Antonio Felix da Costa and Formula E newcomers Stoffel Vandoorne and Felipe Massa.
Image Credit: Formula E
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