British driver Sam Bird, who has two successive wins in 2012 and 2013 in Monaco, let his experience serve him well in an action-packed ePrix of wheel-to-wheel excitement. On duty for Virgin Racing Formula E Team, Bird fought for a podium position in the end of the race. Team mate Jaime Alguersuari caught up in a large incident in turn 1, resulting in a retirement.
Unfortunate to be in group one for qualifying, Bird was only able to put himself in P10 on the grid and had a task ahead of him to repeat his previous strong performances. Steering clear of trouble on the first corner as a number of cars were caught up in an accident between Daniel Abt and Bruno Senna that saw the latter airborne, Bird progressed into seventh. Putting pressure on the pack, Bird stayed close to Nicolas Prost in sixth before making a smart clean overtake on the first corner.
With four positions gained, Bird remained out on the track for an additional lap whilst drivers ahead of him opted for their second car. When the 28-year-old did pit, his Virgin Racing mechanics had him ready to go with fifteen seconds remaining of the minimum pit-time completing a brilliantly executed car changeover. The Brit then returned to the track in fourth position and from then on kept close to Nelson Piquet Jr. in third as he fought for a podium finish. Bird went for the overtake in the same position as he had passed Prost earlier in the race, but Piquet Jr. defended well to keep the Virgin Racing driver out of a trophy. Managing his energy well until the end of the race, Bird pushed Piquet Jr. right to the chequered flag and came within a car length of a podium but narrowly missed out.
Jaime Alguersuari qualified in the top ten but was punished with a 10-place grid penalty which forced him to start in seventeenth position. The 25-year-old was unfortunate to be caught up in the incident on the first corner of the first lap which caused him to immediately retire and his Virgin Racing car was lifted from the track by a crane. Previously in the day Alguersuari had finished second quickest in free-practice two suggesting he would have had the pace to finish strongly in the race.
“I always enjoy racing in Monaco. I wanted three wins in a row here, unfortunately we were unable to do that but I am still delighted to have finished in fourth,” Bird said. “We did not have the most successful morning in practice and then did not qualify particularly well, so it is great to be able to get a decent number of points. Credit to my Virgin Racing team for my car changeover, too. It was perfectly timed and played a big role in the success of my race. In the end I was only one tenth behind the podium and I was pushing hard to take third place from Piquet Jr. but Berlin looks like a great track so I am looking forward to getting more points there.”
Alguersuari commented: “If I did not have the ten-place grid penalty then perhaps the race would have been very different for me but that is racing and something you have to accept as a driver. I am just glad that everyone involved in the crash that ended my race is safe and that shows how robust these Formula E cars are. The positives from today are that I am very happy with the car set-up and so now we have to think ahead to two weeks time in Berlin and get ready to score some points there.”
Alex Tai, Virgin Racing Team Principal, said: “Our aim coming to Monaco was to put on a great race for the fans and we have certainly done that today. It is unfortunate that Jaime Alguersuari had to retire in the first lap as a victim of the early crash, but for Sam Bird and the team to show their strength and go from tenth to fourth is brilliant. Fans in the grandstand were cheering him on and it is such a shame that he narrowly missed out on a podium, but we come away from Monaco delighted with the points we have picked up. As a team, we are feeling confident heading into the final rounds of the championship and our sights are set on a podium in Berlin.”