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São Paulo E-Prix: Bird and Rowland’s winning strategy

Sam Bird finally broke his winless streak in fashion at the São Paulo E-Prix. Rowland took the final podium spot in a nail-biting finish. That saw action across the entire field.

Mitch Evans was beaten by Sam Bird in a thrilling final lap duel of the 2024 São Paulo E-Prix, securing the first NEOM McLaren win in Formula E. The fourth round of the 2024 Formula E World Championship in Brazil had everything that a great race should have. Unpredictability, Safety Cars, impressive driving and a fight that went down to the wire. How did Bird achieve his victory?

Bird’s Redemption and McLaren’s Maiden Voyage

Sam Bird’s long-awaited victory for NEOM McLaren was the culmination of a strategic masterclass. From the start of the race the Englishman had a strong plan in mind. His path to victory was anything but conventional for a Formula E race. In fact, Right from the start, Bird took advantage of a chaotic opening lap to surge into the lead.  Apart from the periods of Attack Mode, the McLaren driver stayed ahead for a long time, managing the race, despite clearly not being able to benefit from the slipstream of rivals to save on battery.

Pascal Wehrlein, TAG Heuer Porsche Formula E Team, Porsche 99X Electric Gen3, leads Jake Hughes, NEOM McLaren Formula E Team, e-4ORCE 04, Mitch Evans, Jaguar TCS Racing, Jaguar I-TYPE 6, and the rest of the field at the start

The first safety car on lap seven proved to be a pivotal moment. Bird, had just activated his Fanboost, thus was able to manage his energy consumption more effectively under the yellow flag.

The second safety car deployment, triggered by championship leader Cassidy’s crash on lap 16, threw another twist into the mix. This neutralized the strategies of drivers who had already used Attack Mode, including Jake Dennis, the DS Penske’s, and Oliver Rowland.

When racing resumed, the focus shifted to the battle for the lead. Mitch Evans, hungry for his first win of the season, tried to defend. Bird made his move by positioning himself on the outside of the fast turn ten, while Evans attempted to defend the inside line. The Englishman completed the overtake by extending his braking point into the subsequent corner, enabling him to seize the lead. However, as revealed later, technical issues hampered Evans’ car on the final lap, diminishing his challenge.

Bird’s victory moves him into second place in the championship standings. He is now just 10 points behind leader Mitch Evans.

Nissan Powertrain Emerges as a Contender

The final corner wasn’t the only place where excitement unfolded. Starting from a lowly sixth position, Oliver Rowland executed an incredible overtake on Dennis and Wehrlein, clinching the final podium spot in a move that defied expectations. This strong performance highlighted the competitiveness of the Nissan powertrain, with Rowland managing to outfox his rivals despite having significantly less battery life remaining compared to Dennis.

Oliver Rowland, Nissan Formula E Team, 3rd position, with his trophy on the podium

However, amidst Rowland’s stellar drive, something surely went wrong on the Porsche garage. While Dennis had showcased formidable pace throughout the race, particularly in the closing stages, he seemed unable to mount a decisive challenge for the lead. It’s possible that the Porsche may have struggled with the demanding race temperatures, hindering its ability to unleash its full potential.

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