FASTEST LAP FOR DS VIRGIN RACING IN MONACO EN ROUTE TO PARIS
DS Virgin Racing’s Sam Bird achieved fastest lap in the 2017 Monaco ePrix to earn a Championship point for him and the Team, but early incidents for both drivers resulted in this being the sole consolation at this weekend’s race in the Principality.
After a promising start in both practice sessions with both drivers in the top five fastest, the team had high hopes for the day. However, neither driver could get enough heat in their tyres and qualified outside the top five with Jose Maria Lopez starting in 7th place and Sam Bird in 10th on the grid.
With the chaos of the 2015 Monaco ePrix in mind, the teams and drivers were particularly wary of incidents at the 1st turn. This year was not as dramatic, but congestion on the inside of the first turn caused Lopez to be hit from behind and pushed into the car in front, damaging both his front and rear wing. At the same time Bird pulled off an excellent move around the outside of turn 1 to move into 7th position.
Bird was looking strong and pushing Engel in P6 when he broke his suspension after brushing the wall coming out of the swimming pool chicane and had to pit. The team did an incredible job and managed to fix the suspension in the pit lane but with lap times at under a minute Sam could only return to the race 3 laps behind the leaders. Jose Maria Lopez entered the pit lane shortly after Sam’s departure having been forced by the race officials to replace the damaged wings he sustained at the first corner.
As a result of being 3 laps behind, Sam changed strategy to aim for fastest lap, which he achieved on lap 24. Jose also changed to the same strategy and returned to the pits at lap 43 to make adjustments to the front wing flaps and tyre pressures to optimise his chances of success, he made a number of very quick laps to challenge Sam and came to within a tenth of a second of Sam’s fastest time.
Sam commented “It was a tough day. I struggled with the rear tyres from the beginning of the race but I made a good start and everything was looking good, but then the rear tyres overheated and I had massive oversteer. I knew the race was done because we were 3 laps down, we’re never going to score points from there and the only option we had was to go for fastest lap. Thankfully we get one point, that was the maximum we could achieve and we did it”.
Pechito said “I wanted to have a clean race, I had a very good FP1 & 2 with no mistakes from my side. I think we still have to work a bit to understand the car but I think the potential is there to easily be in the top 3, it’s just hard to bring everything together”.
Following the race, Team Principal Alex Tai commented “The team did a great job with both drivers coming into the pits in succession and carrying out the required repairs. We’re pleased to have got fastest lap and come away with a point, but it was a frustrating race and again our pace deserved better than this result today. We’ll be pushing in Paris for the results that we know we can achieve”.
Xavier Mestelan Pinon, DS Performance Director commented “Our preparation went well up until the end of FP2 and the drivers were happy with the car. Our target for qualification was to avoid mistakes and we ended up in 7th and 10th position. Following the race incidents both drivers moved to fastest lap strategies. It was a very frustrating weekend as we knew we had the potential to have a very good race but sometimes everything does not go as well as it should. Our focus now is the home race for DS, the Paris ePrix, which is only a week away so we can move on quickly”.