Formula E: Sam Bird Penalty Gifts Edoardo Mortara Maiden Win in Hong Kong

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Edoardo Mortara celebrating what was initially a second place finish in the 2019 Hong Kong ePrix. Image sourced from @VenturiFE (Twitter).

Venturi’s Edoardo Mortara inherited his first Formula E win in Hong Kong, after Envision Virgin Racing driver Sam Bird was penalised after the race for a collision with Techeetah’s Andre Lotterer.

Stoffel Vandoorne (HWA) took his maiden Pole Position in wet conditions, but immediately lost the lead at the start to Oliver Rowland (Nissan e.Dams).

Further back, Sam Bird made a great start from seventh to pass Lucas di Grassi (Audi Sport), Edoardo Mortara, Gary Paffett (HWA) and Andre Lotterer on the opening lap to move up to third, before taking second from Vandoorne shortly after.

More chaos followed, as Alexander Sims (BMW) and defending champion Jean-Eric Vergne (Techeetah) ran wide at Turn 1, and then at Turn 2, Felipe Nasr (Dragon) understeered into the wall after the Brazilian sustained damage earlier on.

This left little room for manouvere and saw the Mahindra’s of Pascal Wehrlein and Jerome d’Ambrosio to crash out and bring out the red flag.

After the marshals cleared the debris, the cars went out behind the Safety Car and the majority of the field opted to use Attack Mode.

When the racing resumed, Bird pursued after Rowland for the lead, whilst Lotterer took third away from Vandoorne.

Rowland was driving well when he accidently activated the pit lane limiter and dramatically dropped down the order, handing the lead to Bird.

Bird and Lotterer started to pull away from the pack, only for Bird to run wide at Turn 3 and surrender the lead.

By Lap 12, the gap behind the top two had increased to six seconds, with Lotterer struggling to converse his energy and starting to worry his engineers in the Techeetah garage.

Lotterer then also ran wide at Turn 3 and saw Bird draft alongside on the approach to the tight chicane, but was forced to back off to avoid an incident.

Behind them, Mortara was on a roll and used his Attack Mode to pass Vandoorne for third, whilst the sister HWA of Paffett had dropped behind Sebastien Buemi (Nissan e.Dams) and Robin Frijns (Envision Virgin) to eighth.

Buemi and Vandoorne both retired in quick succession, after the Nissan driver damaged his front suspension and the former GP2 champion experienced a drive-shaft failure, with the latter causing a second Safety Car appearance.

As the restarted, Lotterer and Bird rebuilt their advantage over the field, whilst several used up their second Attack Mode allocation.

With five minutes to go, Rowland then broke his left-rear axel after hitting the wall and his stoppage on track and bought out the Safety Car again.

The green flag returned with two minutes to go and Bird hounded Lotterer for the race win, with Mortara shadowing behind them.

Under braking for Turn 2, Bird bumped into the back of Lotterer’s car and the German picked up a puncture where the contact was made towards the end of the penultimate lap.

This left Bird unchallenged to take the chequered flag, ahead of Mortara and di Grassi.

However, after the race and podium ceremony, Bird was given a five second penalty by the Stewards for the collision with Lotterer, which dropped the Techeetah driver outside of the top ten.

Because of this, Edoardo Mortara had won his first Formula E race – the 50th ePrix in Formula E history – with di Grassi promoted to second and Frijns in third.

Daniel Abt (Audi Sport) ended the race in fourth ahead of Felipe Massa (Venturi), whilst Sam Bird’s dropped him to sixth.

Jaguar’s Mitch Evans finished seventh, with Gary Paffett, Oliver Turvey (NIO) and Antonio Felix da Costa rounding up the top ten.

Despite the post-race penalty, Bird moved to the top of the Drivers’ Championship with 54 points, with Jerome d’Ambrosio’s DNF leaving him in second on 53 points and both Lucas di Grassi and Edoardo Mortara a further point behind on 52.

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