Sam Bird win came as a
surprised a he had picked up a penalty for not stopping in his allocated space
during the mid-race car swap. Bird entered the pit lane eager to retain the
advantage he’d built over TECHEETAH’s Jean-Eric Vergne, but attacked his marks
too aggressively on the dusty surface and skated to a halt outside the front of
He managed to jump out and
into his second car without losing too much time. However, Bird didn’t make his
mandatory car change in the box allocated to the driver - picking up a
drive-through penalty in the process. But it wasn’t enough to stop him.
There were several contenders
in a hotly-contested battle as Bird faced his former team-mate Vergne for the
majority of the opening stint. Vergne led the way from pole position, fending
off the fast-starting Mahindra of Nick Heidfeld.
As the cars filtered through
the tight chicane of Turns 3 & 4, Formula E debutant Andre Lotterer
collided with the wall - blocking a gaggle of cars behind. Lotterer was
avoiding the bottleneck and pitched into the barriers on the outside, holding
back Mitch Evans, Nico Prost, Edoardo Mortara and Neel Jani behind.
The E-Prix came to an abrupt
halt as the incident brought out the red flags and after a delay the race got
back underway behind the Safety Car. Vergne looked immediately under pressure
from Bird in his mirrors and couldn’t hold him back after a lunge up the inside
of the Turn 6 hairpin.
Despite serving his penalty,
Bird emerged narrowly in front of the chasing pack. The British driver must
have breathed a huge sigh of relief after a botched pitstop cost him a chance
of fighting for the win in Hong Kong last year.