Sam Bird put in a dominant performance to claim victory at an action packed Round 2 of the inaugural FIA Formula E championship, around the streets of Putrajaya.
The result never looked in doubt for the British driver, who blitzed the rest of the field in a stunning drive, having taken the lead early on.
Lucas di Grassi came from the back of the grid to take his second podium in a row following his win in Beijing to remain top of the drivers’ championship standings, as Sebastian Buemi recovered from 19th place to finish third.
Oriol Servia started from pole position ahead of Virgin Racing’s Bird, after Nico Prost had initially taken back to back poles – only for a 10 place grid penalty carried over from Beijing saw him drop to 11th.
Jerome D’Ambrosio was due to start alongside his Dragon Racing team-mate, before the Belgian was stripped of his qualifying result due to exceeding power usage levels in his car.
Servia got away well off the line, fending off Bird into Turn 1 as Jarno Trulli launched into third position following a dreadful start for Daniel Abt, who dropped towards the back of the field.
FanBoost winner for the second time in a row Katherine Legge lost control of her Amlin Aguri when attempting to pass Michela Cerruti on the first lap, hitting the Italian in the process and causing damage to both cars.
Debutant Matthew Brabham, grandson of three time F1 world champion Sir Jack Brabham was involved in contact with Nick Heidfeld heading into the hairpin as the safety car was deployed, forcing the American/Australian driver into an early pit stop.
Brabham endured a dramatic first race with a number of spins, before eventually taking a respectable 13th place.
On lap five, after four laps trailing behind the safety car, racing resumed around the Malaysian streets with Servia keeping his lead ahead of Bird, Trulli, Karun Chandhok and Nelson Piquet jr.
This did not last for long however, as Bird brilliantly took the lead of the ePrix with an instinctive and determined overtake on Servia, who went slightly too deep into Turn 3. The Brit outmuscled his rival and set about building a gap to those behind.
With Servia seemingly struggling with his power levels, he dropped further down the order as Trulli found a way past the Dragon Racing driver into the final corner, before Chandhok, only two laps later also got past, disposing the Spaniard of third.
A clumsy collision into Turn 5 between Franck Montagny and Heidfeld saw the safety car deployed once more on lap nine and resulted in another retirement for the German.
The green flag allowed racing to commence again following a short stint behind the safety car, as Montagny pitted with damage to his front wing and Ho Pin Tung became the latest driver to have a spin.
With the pit window approaching fast, Bird continued to maintain his lead by controlling the pace of the race almost eight seconds clear of his nearest challenger Trulli in second, who had a train of drivers forming behind.
The pit stops allowed Abt to gamble on his strategy in an attempt to recover lost ground from the start, as he jumped into the race lead by pitting early before Bird pitted himself on lap 19. Chandhok appeared to be the biggest loser in the pit window, dropping down to 10th after his stop.
As threatening dark clouds gathered overhead, Piquet Jr passed Lucas di Grassi with a great overtake, before a move on Trulli backfired as the Italian defended far too aggressively, causing the two to come together. Trulli had to serve a drive through penalty for a power infringement and retired soon after.
Bird gained on Abt at a staggering rate and re-took the lead of the ePrix with a pass on the struggling Audi Sport ABT driver, who dramatically lost further places as the decision to pit early did not pay off. He was left to settle with 10th after battling with his car in the closing stages.
Abt’s demise allowed his team-mate and first ever Formula E winner di Grassi the opportunity to move into second place, who duly obliged and held off newly crowned WEC champion Buemi in a frantic conclusion in the penultimate laps.
Bruno Senna’s race had shown real promise, but ended in disappointing fashion as he crashed out heavily on the final lap, losing control of his Mahindra at Turn 9 before clattering the barriers.
e.Dams Renault driver Prost claimed fourth with a resilient drive, ahead of d’Ambrosio in fifth, Chandhok in sixth and pole sitter Servia, who eventually finished seventh.
Antonio Felix da Costa showed promise on his debut outing, coming home in a solid eighth, with Jamie Alguersuari collecting points in ninth as well as the fastest lap of the race.
In a class of his own throughout the ePrix, Bird took the chequered flag on the 31st lap; 4.1 seconds clear of the rest of the pack, to record his first win in the series for the Virgin Racing team.
1. Sam Bird – Virgin Racing
2. Lucas di Grassi – Audi Sport ABT
3. Sebastian Buemi – e.Dams Renault
4. Nicolas Prost – e.Dams Renault
5. Jerome d’Ambrosio – Dragon Racing
6. Karun Chandhok – Mahindra
7. Oriol Servia – Dragon Racing
8. Antonio Felix da Costa – Amlin Aguri
9. Jamie Alguersuari – Virgin Racing
10. Daniel Abt – Audi Sport ABT
11. Ho-Pin Tung – China Racing
12. Stephane Sarrazin – Venturi
13. Matthew Brabham – Andretti Autosport
14. Bruno Senna – Mahindra
15. Franck Montagny – Andretti Autosport
16. Katherine Legge – Amlin Aguri
17. Jarno Trulli – Trulli
Nelson Piquet JR – China Racing
Nick Heidfeld – Venturi
Michela Cerruti – Trulli