Formula E race in Hong Kong was very intense as we are already used to. The climax came only two laps before finish.
Nissan e.dams' Oliver Rowland took the lead off the line, leaving Poleman Stoffel Vandoorne (HWA Racelab) in second until Envision Virgin Racing's Sam Bird, who'd fought through the pack, took his position.
Just minutes in, the race came under a full course yellow as Geox Dragon's Filipe Nasr's damaged car carried on into the wall on Turn 2, with both Mahindra Racing's Jerome d'Ambrosio and Pascal Wehrlein then colliding with the stricken car. Under the Safety Car, the pack regrouped until the race was temporarily stopped while the cars were salvaged. After the incident was cleared, 13 minutes were added to the clock to make up for the lost time under the red flag.
Out of Turn 1, Rowland fell to 10th when his car slowed, handing Bird the lead with an aggressive Andre Lotterer behind. Seconds later, Lotterer exploited Bird's wide line around Turn 2, slipping into the lead. Vandoorne in third was holding back Venturi's Edoardo Mortara in fourth.
At the front, Bird was close behind Lotterer. Heading into Turn 2, the British driver made a move, passing Lotterer before the German reclaimed his lead through the chicane. There was a hard fought battle for victory on our hands.
With less than 18 minutes left, Vandoorne stopped on track suffering a technical failure while Nissan e.dams' Sebastien Buemi picked up damage, ending his race early. With the Safety Car deployed, Vandoorne was recovered.
The race restarted with 11 minutes left to go, with Lotterer still in the lead, Bird close behind in second and Mortara in third. The Swiss-Italian driver has good memories here in Hong Kong after leading much of the race and securing a podium on his Formula E debut last season.
Further down the pack, Rowland stopped on track after snapping his rear axle following contact with the wall. With the Safety Car deployed, Rowland's wreck was cleared and the race restarted with less than two minutes to go.
Last two minutes provided a dramatic race finish. Chipping away at the German race leader, Brit driver Bird made contact with the back of Lotterer's car, puncturing the tyre, leaving him helpless as the car limped home, unable to finish. While Bird sailed over the finish line to take the win, behind him came Mortara in second and di Grassi in third. But later Bird was given 5 seconds penalty due to his accident with Lotterer which demoted him to fifth, given Mortara first victory for Venturi, a team present in Formula E since the very beginning of the championship. Bird is now only one point in front of d'Ambrosio and two of di Grassi.
Next race will be in China on March 23rd followed by the European part of Formula E championship.
- Mortara (Venturi) 59:36,119
- di Grassi (Audi) + 0,998
- Frijns (Envision) + 1,536
- Abt (Audi) + 1,985
- Massa (Venturi) + 3,258
- Bird (54 points)
- d'Ambrosio (53 points)
- di Grassi (52 points)
- Envision (97 points)
- Audi (86 points)
- Mahindra (83 points)