Sam Bird sealed a dramatic Hong Kong E-Prix victory in Formula E’s 50th race but under investigation after a race-long duel with Andre Lotterer ended in penultimate lap contact.
Techeetah’s Lotterer had led for the majority of the race, after snatching the lead from Bird early on when the Brit ran wide at Turn 2.
The two, who were able to pull away from the chasing pack at a rate of one second per lap, proceeded to run nose-to-tail until the penultimate lap.
Bird attempted to pass Lotterer on the inside of the 90-degree right-hander at Turn 2. Lotterer defended the line and Bird’s nose made contact with the Techeetah’s right-rear tyre, cutting the rubber and causing a puncture.
Bird took the lead and victory, while Lotterer crawled across the line last of the finishers.
The Envision driver, who claims the championship lead with his second win of the season, is under investigation for the incident.
Should he receive a time penalty, Venturi’s Edoardo Mortara would earn his first FE victory having finished in second place.
He was sixth at the end of lap one, but picked up positions when drivers slipped out of contention ahead and maintained track position in the closing laps despite being one of the few front-runners without attack mode.
Oliver Rowland had seized the lead from polesitter Stoffel Vandoorne at the start. However, Rowland temporarily lost drive on the exit of Turn 1 on the second lap, dropping to 10th before later crashing out.
Vandoorne was running third until a driveshaft issue at mid-race distance led to retirement. His pole position had delivered HWA’s first points in FE.
Lucas di Grassi ended up sealing third place, surviving late pressure from Robin Frijns during a late-race restart following the clean up after Rowland’s crash. Frijns settled for fourth-place.
Sebastien Buemi had battled Frijns earlier on in the race, before the Nissan e.dams driver was forced to retire with a suspected suspension issue.
Daniel Abt was fifth ahead of Felipe Massa in sixth and Mitch Evans was able to pass Gary Paffett on the penultimate lap to beat the reigning DTM champion to seventh place. Paffett’s eighth-place finish was still enough to earn his first points in FE.
Reigning champion Jean-Eric Vergne failed to score points after another difficult race. Replicating a lock-up by Alexander Sims into Turn 1 on the second lap, Vergne made contact with the back of the BMW Andretti car while Sims was parked against the wall.
He reversed away from the incident but failed to make significant progress back through the field.
Mahindra’s day was curtailed when both Jerome d’Ambrosio, who led the championship entering the race, and team-mate Pascal Wehrlein crashed into the back of Felipe Nasr who had buried his Dragon car into the wall at Turn 2 after failing to make the corner due to front wing damage.