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10 June 2018

Sam closes in on Formula E title hunt with Zurich podium

  • Second-place finish for Briton as racing returns to Switzerland after 64 years
  • Result reduces Formula E title deficit to 23 points with two rounds remaining
  • DS Virgin Racing head to season finale fighting for both teams' & drivers' championship

DS Virgin Racing's Sam Bird reduced the FIA Formula E championship deficit to rival Jean-Eric Vergne by almost half, with a second-place finish during today's frantic inaugural Zurich E-Prix.

Sam on the Zurich podium

In the first single-seater race to be held in Switzerland since Juan Manuel Fangio won in Bremgarten in 1954, reigning Formula E champion Lucas di Grassi took victory but was eliminated from title contention. Sam's runner-up spot sets up a title-deciding weekend when the series heads across the Atlantic to the Big Apple in July.

The fully-electric Formula E cars will next race in Brooklyn against the backdrop of Lower Manhattan and the Statue of Liberty - just as they did last year when Sam took a clean sweep of both races.

And the 23-point gap between him and Vergne is the exact same amount di Grassi managed to overturn in Montreal last season to win the championship.

Sam said: "We had a little bit of luck today but even so the whole team did a fantastic job to get the result and leave in this position where we'll be fighting for the title in New York... and we know what happened there last year! Now I know what we need to do; I need to beat him [Vergne] in the first race, and if I can do that then we have a shot at the title."

Sylvain Filippi, Chief Operations Officer, said: "To be in this position heading into the final two rounds is a fantastic achievement by the whole team. To close the gap today means we're in real contention for both the drivers' and the teams' championship and for sure we'll be putting every effort into New York."

DS Performance Director Xavier Mestelan Pinon added: "It's been a very positive weekend for us with a podium for Sam and 17-points taken from Jean-Eric Vergne in the drivers' championship. The last two races will be in New York where we won both races last year. It is clear that the whole team will make the trip with great expectation."

Sam's podium followed a strong qualifying performance earlier in the day, and he battled hard throughout the early stages of the race to remain amongst the front runners with Vergne back down in the midfield. Just before the halfway mark a Full Course Yellow period led to a flurry of drivers heading to the pits to change cars.

Sam emerged fifth and keen to push on with Vergne down in ninth - but Vergne and several of the drivers ahead of Sam were penalised for speeding during the FCY and each handed drive-through penalties. That allowed Sam to move into second place and secure his 15th Formula E career podium and sixth of the season.