Formula E

Sao Paulo: Sam Bird takes sensational 1st Formula E victory for McLaren, Nick Cassidy crashes

Timo Pape

Timo Pape

Sam Bird has sensationally won the Sao Paulo E-Prix! The Briton overcame Mitch Evans in the Jaguar just a few corners before the chequered flag to claim the first Formula E victory in McLaren's history. Oliver Rowland in the Nissan came third - another complete surprise. Pascal Wehrlein finished fourth, while world championship leader Nick Cassidy retired after an accident.

Pole-sitter Pascal Wehrlein got away very well at the start and easily defended his lead. Mitch Evans also accelerated effectively and attacked on the inside lane. He managed to get past Jean-Eric Vergne. However, second place remained with Stoffel Vandoorne. Antonio Felix da Costa made up several places. In contrast to last year, the first lap went off without any major incidents. Max Günther served his time penalty early on and was the last to hope for a safety car.

Felix da Costa continued to fight his way through the field and took second place behind Wehrlein on lap 3. Lucas di Grassi damaged his front wing on Nyck de Vries' Mahindra in turn 3, but continued without any problems. On lap 4, the two Porsche drivers let Sam Bird in the McLaren past. The cheerful waving past to save energy in the slipstream of the car in front took on similar proportions to 2023. When Bird got his first attack mode, the two Porsches took the lead again.

On lap 7, race control was forced to send the safety car onto the track to collect various debris from the road. In particular, the front wing of an Andretti car posed a danger. Norman Nato had slid into the rear of di Grassi at the end of the start and finish straight. The Brazilian was just able to catch his ABT car and continue. Nato later received a 5-second time penalty for the incident. Günther was able to catch up as hoped by neutralising the race.

Cassidy crashes!

At the end of the eighth lap, the race continued at race pace. The two Porsche drivers drove in formation through the attack zone, allowing Evans and Bird to get past. One lap later, Evans also picked up his attack mode and left Bird in the lead again. Nico Müller pushed a damaged front wing in front of him, but did not come into the pits in ninth place. In the end, the Swiss driver had to head to the garage for repairs and dropped back to last place.

Dennis overtook both DS drivers and brand colleague Wehrlein within a few seconds. The champion was also in the lead. Because Bird and Evans drove through the attack zone, he even took first place on lap 13, followed after 15 of 31 laps by Bird, Evans, Wehrlein, Felix da Costa and Nick Cassidy, who had damaged his front wing on the rear of de Vries. Günther had already moved up to 10th place!

Then came the shock for Jaguar: World championship leader Cassidy crashed into the wall at a 45-degree angle on lap 16 and severely damaged his car. Among other things, one of his right wheels rolled across the track. He had to end the race in the run-off zone. The safety car came out onto the track for the second time. "His defective front wing slipped under the right front wheel so that he could no longer steer. Thank goodness he's okay," explained Jaguar team boss James Barclay a short time later on TV World Signal.

Evans fights his way past Bird

Bird led the field at the restart on lap 20. He was followed by Evans, Wehrlein and Felix da Costa, who was overtaken by Dennis in turn 1 shortly afterwards. The two safety car phases had allowed the drivers to save more energy than originally planned. Bird sensed that he had an outside chance against the efficient Jaguar and Porsche cars behind him. However, by lap 23, the Briton had already used one per cent more energy than Evans and even two per cent more than Wehrlein.

The German repeatedly attacked Evans in front of him, but the latter defended himself. "We're in a good position with the energy - everything on the attack," Wehrlein's race engineer radioed. Then the next setback for Müller: the ABT driver missed the braking point in turn 1 and came to a halt outside the chicane. Like Edo Mortara in practice, he was initially unable to continue under his own power. Ultimately, however, Müller drove on.

Evans, meanwhile, dared to attack Bird, who defended himself vehemently. On lap 28, the time had finally come: Evans took the lead from Bird on the outside! Now Wehrlein was also in a hurry to get past the McLaren driver. Instead, however, the Porsche driver had to let his team-mate Dennis pass! The champion was now third ahead of the two Porsche drivers.

Bird achieves the impossible

Dennis had the biggest energy advantage in the leading group, but couldn't find a way past Bird. Why the Porsche drivers did not attack harder despite their energy reserves was incomprehensible from the outside. Race control decided to extend the race by three additional laps due to the two safety car periods. Surprisingly, Bird continued to put pressure on his former team-mate Evans, but was told to cool his car more - it was 36 degrees Celsius in Sao Paulo!

On the last lap, the drama took its course: Sam Bird started an overtaking manoeuvre just a few corners before the chequered flag and passed Evans on the outside! Sensationally, he won the Sao Paulo E-Prix on the final groove and gave McLaren its first ever Formula E victory!

Oliver Rowland came out of nowhere in the final few metres and overtook all the Porsche cars in front of him with a surprise attack on the last corner. The Nissan driver took the podium behind Evans by complete surprise! Wehrlein finished fourth ahead of Dennis and Felix da Costa. Vergne, Vandoorne, Günther (!) and Buemi completed the top 10 of a crazy race.

Despite his retirement, Nick Cassidy continues to lead the 2024 Formula E World Championship ahead of Pascal Wehrlein. Mitch Evans is now third. Jaguar has extended its lead among the teams, while Porsche is now second overall. ABT and Mahindra also remained without points in Sao Paulo. The next Formula E race will take place in a fortnight - on 30 March 2024. The electric series will then make its debut in front of the spectacular backdrop of the Japanese metropolis of Tokyo.

Results & times

Overall standings (drivers & teams)

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