BUENOS AIRES – Sam Bird emerged victorious from one of the most thrilling Formula E races in the short history of the series after fending off a charging Sebastien Buemi in the closing stages to bag his third win.
Championship leader Buemi started the race from the back of the grid after making a mistake in qualifying, leaving him with a mountain to climb to even score points, let alone win the race.
However, the Swiss driver produced a driving masterclass and was aided by a safety car period to come into contention late on, only for Bird to produce an equally-excellent display and keep his cool to win in Buenos Aires.
Bird led all but one lap of the race, dropping down to second when Nelson Piquet Jr. went one lap longer during the pit window, and managed to see off challenges from Nicolas Prost and Antonio Felix da Costa in the first half of the race.
Da Costa’s hopes of repeating his victory in Buenos Aires from 2015 were ended just before pitting when his car came to a halt, prompting the stewards to send out the safety car which bunched the field.
Buemi had fought his way up into the points from 18th on the grid by the time he came in to swap cars, and made light work of Stephane Sarrazin before setting his sights on perennial title rival Lucas di Grassi in second place.
An exquisite move into the hairpin saw Buemi move into P2, and despite appearing to have a pace advantage over Bird in the closing stages, the Briton put up an impenetrable defence to keep the Renault e.dams driver back on the final two laps.
Low on power, Buemi had to drop back at the final few corners, giving Bird the breathing room to take his third Formula E win and the first since the start of the DS Virgin partnership.
Di Grassi was unable to join the leading pair at the front for the last fight, dropping back to save power, but managed to finish third. Sarrazin finished fourth for Venturi ahead of Prost and Loic Duval, while Nick Heidfeld’s return from injury went well as he finished seventh.
Robin Frijns enjoyed a good start in the Andretti, running as high as fourth early on, but ultimately dropped back to finish seventh. Oliver Turvey and Bruno Senna rounded out the points in P9 and P10 respectively.
Jean-Eric Vergne bounced back from food poisoning overnight to finish 11th, narrowly missing out on points, while Nelson Piquet Jr. ended the race P13. Daniel Abt and Simona de Silvestro enjoyed quiet races en route to 13th and 14th, while Mike Conway blew his chance of points on debut with a late spin, dropping him to P15 at the end. Jerome d’Ambrosio was the last classified finisher in 16th place.