Sam Bird felt that he had no chance of winning the Rome ePrix after seeing the pace of Mahindra driver Felix Rosenqvist in the race.
Rosenqvist had built a comfortable three-second margin over Bird, but a suspension failure after hitting a kerb at Turn 17 brought an end to the Swede’s race and enabled Bird to inherit the lead.
“I didn’t think I would be in this position to win,” stated Bird. “After I saw the pace of Felix in qualifying and in the race, I was like: “we don’t have it in us to win.” So I was ready to settle for second and the 18 points. But then I think he was struggling with his brake bias, and I was able to catch him, which was great.
“It didn’t look like Felix hit the wall, but apparently he broke his suspension on the kerb, which is a shame for him, but you take it when it comes,” added the Englishman.
It wasn’t all plain sailing for Bird though as he had to negotiate intense pressure from Mitch Evans and Lucas di Grassi to claim victory.
“It was tough; I knew they had more energy and that they would come at me. I had to try and place the car correctly, but then I made a mistake at Turn 5, and that cost me in the fight, which allowed Mitch Evans to have a go, but I survived it. Then it was just about putting my head down and seeing the race out, and that’s what I did.
Bird has overtaken Rosenqvist to lie second in the driver’s standings, and is now 18 points behind Jean-Eric Vergne, but the DS Virgin Racing driver is not thinking of the championship just yet.
“Let’s see where we are points-wise in New York. Then we will talk championship. I don’t think we have caught, or are closing in on Vergne after today’s race. I need at least three or four good races to properly close in if we don’t have any issues from now until the rest of the season.”