Bird flies high in Brazil

Tuesday 19 March 2024

British drivers returned to the fore as the ABB FIA Formula E Championship headlined in Brazil over the weekend with Sam Bird and Oliver Rowland both on the São Paulo E-Prix podium. 

Bird not only ended his own 37 winless streak when grabbing a famous victory with an audacious last lap lunge on the leading Jaguar of former team-mate Mitch Evans but also made history by giving NEOM McLaren their maiden Formula E triumph. 

 “What a race that was, that was great,” Bird exclaimed after the dust had settled. “It means so much for everybody at NEOM McLaren. I think everybody can now see the progress that is slowly happening. I hope that this opens the floodgates a little bit.” 

 Although desperate to get back to the top step on the podium for the first time since his 12th career win in New York in 2021, the experienced 37-year-old seemed destined for second place as the laps ticked down. However, the McLaren man had other ideas. In a stunning last ditch effort he went around the outside of rival Evans on the penultimate turn and then held on to grab the inside line and the lead into the final corner in what was one of the most thrilling finishes to a race in Formula E’s 10-season history.    

 As well as Bird’s final lap heroics, Nissan’s Oliver Rowland jumped from fifth to third on the last corner to claim his second consecutive podium finish. The hard-charging Yorkshireman started 11th but managed to play the game perfectly to work his way up the grid. 

 With standings leader Nick Cassidy not scoring after hitting the wall in his Jaguar, the championship title race has closed up after the first four rounds. Though the Kiwi still tops the table, three British drivers are now within striking distance. Defending champion Jake Dennis finished a fighting fifth in Brazil to remain in contention for back-to-back titles while Bird has soared into sixth spot with his stirring victory and Rowland is now up to seventh position. 

 After the opening four rounds in Mexico, Saudi Arabia and Brazil, next stop on the all-electric Formula E’s globetrotting 16 round calendar is Japan at the end of this month. The series concludes with a double-header finale in London on 20/21 July.