Soaked in champagne, a beaming Sam Bird revealed that he had no qualms about Formula E‘s brand-new New York City ePrix, which made its debut in the racing series this weekend in Red Hook.
It would have been puzzling had he said any different after the weekend he just had.
The DS Virgin racer cruised to victory on Sunday afternoon, his second win in as many days as he swept Rounds 9 and 10 of the 2017 Formula E Championship Series.
“What a car I was given this weekend. So hats off to DS Virgin Racing for giving me the best car I’ve ever been in,” Bird said.
It was almost a wire-to-wire win for the Englishman, who started from the top spot after winning the Super Pole earlier in the day. However, he lost his spot right at the start of the race to Mahindra’s Felix Rosenqvist, who started on the more advantageous part of the track despite finishing second in qualifying.
“At the start of the line, [Rosenqvist] got off the line and beat me to the first corner,” Bird explained. “In our opinion, pole position is on the wrong side. If we come here again, which I sincerely hope we do, the pole position has to be taken to the other side.”
Rosenqvist held the lead for 10 full laps but was overtaken by Bird on the 11th after faking him out of position on a hairpin turn and taking the inside track for the lead.
He did not relinquish the top spot from that moment on even after taking his pit stop a little after Rosenqvist. With the cars running on batteries in Formula E, drivers need to change their vehicles midway through the race once power begins to dwindle. Bird managed to change cars quickly and get back on the track just in front of the Mahindra driver.
Rosenqvist had some company toward the top as teammate Nick Heidfeld joined him in contention for Sunday’s title. The two were running second and third until the engineers at Mahindra realized they miscalculated the amount of energy Rosenqvist had to use in order to finish the race.
So Heidfeld was allowed to pass his teammate, who conserved energy for the rest of the race while keeping his perch in third.
The two—nor the rest of the field—posed no challenge to Bird, who held a multiple-second lead to the very end.
With Rosenqvist in third place in the driver’s standings, Heidfeld let his teammate pass him on the final lap to ensure he got the most points possible.
“Once we figured things out, I was able to concentrate and focus again, Rosenqvist said. “And Nick was kind enough to let me pass for P2. It was quite unpredictable today.”
But it was all about Bird this weekend, who was plenty aware of what his dominant weekend meant.
“I will be writing a letter to [Formula E CEO] Alejandro Agag asking if we can have the whole championship here next season,” Bird said. “It was incredible. I know this was a historic weekend not only for Formula E, but for motorsport in general. It’s been a long time coming for motorsport to get here.”