Can Brit Sam Bird take the championship fight to Buemi and Di Grassi?

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2015/2016 FIA Formula E Championship. Buenos Aires ePrix, Buenos Aires, Argentina. Saturday 6 February 2016. Photo: Zak Mauger/LAT/Formula E

The British driver had a flawless weekend at the Buenos Aires ePrix

After the first three rounds of the 2015/16 Formula E season, Sebastien Buemi appeared to be running away with the Drivers’ Championship. Lucas di Grassi was waiting in the wings should Buemi run into any problems.

As we headed to Argentina for the BA ePrix, Buemi was a double race winner and di Grassi yet to finish outside of the top two. The two drivers sat comfortably at the top of the leaderboard, separated by only a point, and nobody else seemed close enough to mount a challenge to them.

A two-horse race in a battle that might not last until the final round of the season – where have we seen that before?

And then Sam Bird took a determined step into the limelight.

The DS Virgin driver claimed his first ever pole position in the Super Pole shoot-out, despite having only set the fourth fastest time in the initial qualifying rounds. He pulled himself up by his bootlaces when it mattered the most.

Buemi, on the other hand, spun on his fastest lap and started the race at the back of the grid; di Grassi qualified in seventh place. However neither of them were going to give up the win without a fight.

The final five laps were a fraught experience as the three drivers fought for the win. Di Grassi was running in second and desperately trying to find his way past Bird; Buemi had stormed his way through the field and was only two more overtakes away from victory. Having expertly passed so many other drivers, using exactly the same move every time, only a brave viewer would have bet against him finishing on the top step of the podium.

Buemi made his move on di Grassi, and a ragged Bird struggling with oversteer should have been easy prey for the Swiss driver.

But Bird stayed cool in the Argentinian heat, and despite Buemi’s attempts to pull off another spectacular overtake, he just couldn’t get past the Brit.

Bird’s season so far has not been as consistent as Buemi and di Grassi’s. In Punta del Este  he qualified third, but issues with his second car forced him to retire. He finished on the podium in Putrajaya, but could only manage seventh in the opening round in Beijing.

He is now 20 points clear of Loic Duval in fourth place in the Driver’s Championship, however he trails di Grassi and Buemi by 24 and 28 points respectively.

Perhaps a bit of a tall order given the dominant performance of Buemi and consistency of di Grassi. But as we’ve seen so far this season, things can always go wrong – just ask Buemi in Putrajaya or da Costa in Buenos Aires – and fortunes could turn at any given point.

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Race Event. Buenos Aires ePrix. Buenos Aires, Argentina, South America Saturday 6 February 2016 Photo: Adam Warner /LAT/FE

So at the very least, let’s hope Bird gives the top two a run for their money for the rest of this season. Whichever way it goes, all three would be deserving champions.

Formula E returns on 12th March for the Mexican ePrix

Formula E Driver Standings

Position
1
2
3
4
5
6
7
8
9
10
11
12
13
14
15
16
17
18
19
20
21
Driver
Sebastien BUEMI
Lucas DI GRASSI
Sam BIRD
Loic DUVAL
Jerome D’AMBROSIO
Stephane SARRAZIN
Nick HEIDFELD
Robin FRIJNS
Nico PROST
Antonio Felix DA COSTA
Bruno SENNA
Oliver TURVEY
Daniel ABT
Jean-Eric VERGNE
Nelson PIQUET JR
Nathanael BERTHON
Simona DE SILVESTRO
Jacques VILLENEUVE
Oliver ROWLAND
Mike CONWAY
Salvador DURAN
Team
Renault eDams
ABT SCHAEFFLER
DS Virgin Racing
Dragon Racing
Dragon Racing
Venturi Formula E
Mahindra
Andretti Formula E
Renault eDams
Team Aguri
Mahindra
NEXT EV
ABT SCHAEFFLER
DS Virgin Racing
NEXT EV
Team Aguri
Andretti Formula E
Venturi Formula E
Mahindra
Venturi
Team Aguri
Points
80
76
52
32
30
28
23
21
21
16
11
10
10
6
4
4
0
0
0
0
0

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