Envision Virgin Racing secured yet more championship points this weekend at the Mexico City E-Prix, after Sam Bird climbed 13 places to finish in ninth.
A difficult qualifying session saw Bird starting in 22nd at a track that is notoriously hard to overtake on. But he benefitted from a red flag incident involving Nelson Piquet Jr, Jean-Eric Vergne and Alexander Sims, which promoted him to 15th after gaining three places on the opening lap.
Using his Attack Modes strategically, the British driver was able to pass Oliver Turvey and teammate Robin Frijns. This meant he had a chance of passing Mitch Evans in the final two laps of the race. However, energy management became a huge factor in the final stages of the race as the two Nissan e. Dams drivers, Oliver Rowland and Seabstien Buemi, ran out of usable energy with a lap remaining, forcing them to slow down. This promoted Bird into ninth place, taking home two points and keeping him in championship contention.
“We’ve always had mixed results at this track and today was one of them,” Bird said. “Qualifying was really frustrating and to start so far down the order is always tough. I actually thought it would take a miracle to score points from this position, but we did just that. We just kept pushing, in what was a crazy race, and got our reward.”
Bird’s teammate Frijns just missed out on a points finish, crossing the line in 11th place. He was involved in an intense battle with Jose Maria Lopez and Oliver Turvey, which he overcame but wasn’t able to catch up to Sam to try and steal another point for the team.
“That was certainly a tough day,” Frijns said. “We weren’t quite there on pace in practice and then qualifying didn’t go our way either. Of course, starting at the back hampered us in the race, but we made the most of it and were unlucky not to come away with a points finish.”
The results leave the team in second place in the championship standings, with Bird third in the drivers’ standings and Frijns in seventh.
Envision Virgin Racing Managing Director Sylvain Filippi added: “It’s been a challenging weekend for the team and the results don’t reflect our true potential, as our race pace was very strong. Sam and Robin both drove superbly in what was a chaotic race, especially with the long stoppage period. To come away with a points finish from where we started is a fantastic achievement for the whole team. For sure, we will look at the data and see where we can improve and look to come back stronger.”
The next race of the season will take place in Hong Kong on March 10th, head to the Envision Virgin Racing website for all the latest news.