Edoardo Mortara Takes Hong Kong ePrix After Sam Bird Handed Crash Penalty

Formula E Championship Series—Hong Kong
By Bill Cox, Epoch Times
March 12, 2019 Updated: March 12, 2019

HONG KONG—Sam Bird of Envision Virgin Racing made a robust move with just one lap remaining of the Hong Kong leg of the Formula E series to overtake Techeetah’s Andre Lotterer, and pass the winning line first in the Hong Kong Leg of the Formula E 2018-19 Series.

The two drivers had been locked in a close battle for most of the race and Bird had tried a few times to pass, but was  denied each time, but on the final occasion Bird successfully passed Lotterer during which contact took place. Shortly afterwards Lotterer suffered a rear tire blowout causing him to drop down the order.  At the end of the race there was a protest lodged against Bird. After due consideration, Stewards placed a five second penalty on Bird for causing the crash, demoting him to sixth place and leaving Mortara of Venturi team the winner.

Envision Virgin driver, Sam Bird spent much of the race right on the tail of race leader Andre Lotterer of Techeetah during the Hong Kong ePrix on Sunday March 10, 2019. (Christopher Wong/Sports Action HK)

Earlier in the day, Stoffel Vandoorne of  HWA Racelab finished practice  on pole with Nissan e dams rookie Oliver Rowland second, Edoardo Mortara third and Techeetah’s Andre Lotterer Fourth. But Lotterer was moved up to third on the starting grid after Venturi’s Edoardo Mortara received a grid penalty.

There was sporadic rain, sometimes heavy, during the qualifiers on Saturday and Sunday mornings, slowing the drivers. Pole position was secured in 1:11.580 some 9 seconds off the lap record.

Stoffel Vandoorne of Belgium driving HWA Racelab competes during the practice round 1 of the Hong Kong E-Prix on March 10, 2019, in Hong Kong, China. (Christopher Wong/Sports Action HK)

In the race, a crash by Massa on the second lap created a blockage, stopping Vandoorne and some other vehicles from passing. The Race was stopped with a restart after a 10 minute break.

The track order at the restart was Rolland followed by Bird and Vandoone. After the restart Lotterer (DS Techeetah) gained a place up to third, and shortly afterwards Rowland lost power dropping down the order into tenth place. Lotterer seemed to be flying and overtook Bird for first place.  Lotterer and Bird pulled away and opened up a seven second gap with Bird putting continual pressure on Lotterer.

With 13 minutes plus one lap to go the safety car came out to allow debris to be removed from the track. The cars all closed up but after the restart the two leaders soon reopened a gap.

The safety car was again deployed with 2 minutes plus one lap to the finish, to remove Jerome d’Ambrosio’s Mahindra car that was stationery on the track.  It was soon after racing resumed that Bird overtook Lotterer securing a line win for Bird with Mortara second and Di Grassi third.  After the stewards ruling Bird was demoted to sixth place while advancing Mortara as winner, Lucas di Grassi second and Robin Frijns of Envision Virgin Racing third.

(L-R) Edoardo Mortara, Sam Bird and Lucas di Grassi on the winners rostrum at the end of the Hong Kong ePrix 2019, on March 10, 2019. Following a protest, Sam Bird was later demoted to sixth place leaving Mortara as the winner. (Christopher Wong/Sports Action HK)
Was Mortara being told of a possible change of fortune as he stepped off the podium holding second place? (Christopher Wong/Sports Action HK)
Edoardo Mortara, in action during the Hong Kong ePrix on March 10, 2019. He was later declared winner of the race after stewards placed a penalty on Sam Bird. (Christopher Wong/Sports Action HK)

The Hong Kong race was the fiftieth ePrix or all time and fifth in the 2018-19 season of thirteen races. Races had already taken place in Saudi Arabia, Morocco, Chile and Mexico resulting in Jerome d’Ambrosio driving a Mahindra Racing car logging 53 points to head the driver’s Championship.  Antonio Felix da Costa of BMW Andretti was lying second with 46 points and Sam Bird of Envision Virgin Racing was one point behind, third.

After Hong Kong, the Drivers’ Championship shows Sam Bird is now just one point ahead of Jerome d’Ambrosio (53) with Lucas di Grassi on 52 points, and Edoardo Mortara is fourth also on 52 points. The Championship now moves to Sanya (March   23); Rome (April 13); Paris (April 27); Monaco (May 11); Morocco (May 25); Berlin (May 25) and two races in New York on July 13 and 14.

Lucas Di Grassi of Brazil driving Audi Sport ABT Schaeffler competes during the race of the Hong Kong E-Prix 2019 on 10 March 2019. (Christopher Wong/Sports Action HK)
Robin Frijns of Envision Virgin moved into third place in the Hong Kong ePrix on March 10,2019 after his team-mate Sam Bird was demoted. (Christopher Wong/Sports Action HK)