Sam Bird handled the heat under pressure from Pascal Wehrlein to win his first Formula E race of the season in the sweltering Santiago sunshine Saturday.With temperature hitting 95 degrees Fahrenheit and Wehrlein hot on his heels in the closing stages of the warmest Formula E race on record, Bird held his nerve with a perfect performance around the perimeter roads of Parque O’Higgins in the center of the Chilean capital.

The field takes the green flag in Santiago, Chile, on Saturday.

Bird had to keep a close eye on his mirrors with both drivers on alternative Attack Mode strategies. Without any activations left, Bird found himself vulnerable from behind, as Wehrlein saved his final burst of energy in a bid to vault ahead with only minutes to spare.

Despite his best efforts, however, Wehrlein couldn’t make a move and had to settle for second.

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Fellow countryman Daniel Abt rounded out the podium places, inheriting a position from Alexander Sims after the BMW i Andretti Motorsport driver incurred a penalty for causing a collision with Edoardo Mortara.

Contact with Sims sent Mortara spinning, but the Venturi Formula E Team driver valiantly fought back to finish fourth.

Buemi wasn’t so lucky to avoid the barriers, crashing out of the lead in close quarters with Bird at the turns six and seven chicane, the same corner he encountered trouble with in practice earlier in the day.

The 2015/16 champion led away from the front after being promoted to Julius Baer pole position following the exclusion of Lucas di Grassi for an infringement in qualifying. However, Buemi couldn’t convert a first win for the newly named Nissan e.dams outfit.

Winner in Marrakesh and championship leader coming into the race, Jérôme D’Ambrosio came home in eighth, but later dropped to 10th after being handed a five-second penalty for speeding under Full Course Yellow.

The result means D’Ambrosio relinquishes his place to Bird at the top of the driver standings, with title protagonists Antonio Felix da Costa and Jean-Eric Vergne failing to add to their points tally.

Formula E now heads to Mexico City and the Autódromo Hermanos Rodríguez for round four of the 2018/19 ABB FIA Formula E Championship on February 16.

“We went with Audi for a reason,” Bird said. “Through the help of Audi Sport, the skillset of the data engineers who pulled back the pace and mechanics, I’m here, and we’ve been able to claw back time and learn from mistakes. Everyone was struggling out there so I’m absolutely delighted to bring it home.”

Formula E Chili Podium

Formula E now heads to Mexico City and the Autodromo Hermanos Rodriguez for round four of the 2018/19 ABB FIA Formula E Championship on February 16.PHOTO BY MOTORSPORT IMAGES-LAT
1Sam BirdEnvision Virgin Racing47:02.511s
2Pascal WehrleinMAHINDRA Racing+6.489s
3Daniel AbtAudi Sport ABT Schaeffler+14.529s
4Edoardo MortaraVENTURI Formula E Team+17.056s
5Robin FrijnsEnvision Virgin Racing+20.276s
6Mitch EvansPanasonic Jaguar Racing+23.755s
7Alexander SimsBMW i Andretti Motorsport+27.590s
8Oliver TurveyNIO Formula E Team+45.059s
9Jose María LopezGEOX DRAGON+45.376s
10Jerome D’AmbrosioMAHINDRA Racing+46.984s
11Nelson Piquet Jr.Panasonic Jaguar Racing+48.635s
12Lucas di GrassiAudi Sport ABT Schaeffler+1:03.552s
13André LottererDS TECHEETAH+1:14.706s
14Gary PaffettHWA RACELAB1 Lap

Source: Autoweek