FORMULA E: Bird rules the roost in Putrajaya

As published in Sunday Mail today

By Nicolas Anil

PUTRAJAYA - Virgin Racing’s Sam Bird soared to a dominant win in an action-packed second race of the Formula E at Putrajaya yesterday.
Bird, who finished third at the maiden race in Beijing two months ago, was emotional after his victory.
“I want to dedicate this victory to a good friend of mine who is ill. It’s really unfortunate that he has to struggle so much right now, so this one is for him," said Bird without naming his friend.
“It’s been an amazing week for me. I did well in practice and started second on the grid and my good start helped pave the way to a consistent race. This is our first win as a team in our first season. I’m delighted and hope we can keep this up.”
Bird's masterclass driving saw him lead the 20-driver field from the first lap held a seven-second lead before he turned into the pitlane.
The ex Formula 3 driver regained the lead, temporarily held by Audi Sport’s Daniel Abt, with four laps to go and blitzed to his first win in the championship in 51:11.979 seconds.
Brazil’s Lucas di Grassi, who had won the first race, benefitted from several crashes to finish second (51:16.154) despite starting from 18th, while Switzerland's Sebastian Buemi’s was third (51:17.718s).
The big names suffered crashes and Venturi E Team driver Nick Heidfeld was slalomed by Frenchman Franck Montagy who made contact in his bid to overtake the German.
The former Formula One driver, who was also involved in an accident with Nicolas Prost in Beijing, was forced to retire.
He was joined in the non-classification by Nelson Piquet Jr who was also ruled out after being infringed by Italy’s Jarno Trulli.
Di Grassi leads the drivers' standings on 43 points, three ahead of Bird.
The drivers and teams will head to Punta del Esta in Uruguay for the next race on Dec 13. The 10-race championship will conclude in London in June next year.

Top five
1. Sam Bird (Virgin Racing) 51:11.979s
2. Lucas di Grassi (Audi Sport) 51:16.154s
3. Sebastian Buemi (e.dams Renault) 51’17.718s
4. Nicolas Prost (e.damn Renault) 51’21:531s
5. Jerome D’Ambrosio (Dragon Racing) 51’25:701s

Excitingly fun day at Formula E

By Audrey Edwards

PUTRAJAYA — Months of hard work culminated in less than an hour when drivers of the FIA Formula E Champioship drove their hearts out in a race that saw the safety car come out twice before 10 laps of the race was done. 
And throughout the morning and afternoon, spectators who turned up at the Putrajaya ePrix circuit had the entire stretch of both sides of the circuit to stroll and take part in various activities offered to them besides taking a timeout at the cooling zone or grabbing a bite at the food trucks and stalls that dotted near the eVillage. 
Among the attractions that drew the crowds were the Formula E race simulators, autograph sessions from the 20 drivers and the power bike challenge carried out by DHL. 
The e-bike action booth also saw them checking out cyclists carrying out various tricks while EJ (electric jockey as opposed to disc jockey) also made an appearance at the eVillage. 
Umbrellas and caps were the chosen accessories while those who turned up were not dressed in the usual favourite team t-shirt although one or two cut a figure with their Formula One Red Bull Racing shirts. 
Some of those at the grandstand near the grid also called out to Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Razak when he took a tour of the paddock area and starting line-up before the race started. 
There was a slight tingle of anticipation before the race got started on its 31 laps as people looked forward to hearing the electric cars start the race. 
Some said it sounded like a giant remote control car while others described it as something out of a science fiction movie. 
The sound, which is approximately 80 decibels (more than the 70 decibels produced by an average petrol car) comes courtesy of a combination of the tyres on track, the car’s aero package and electric drivetrain. 
And as the cars went down the straight at fast speeds, the crowds could take comfort in the fact there was no need to put on ear plugs as opposed to the noisier Formula One races. 
It was a race never seen before in Malaysia and it was only the second venue after Beijing to host a Formula E Championship. 
The street circuit, which was easy to walk on with its pedestrian walkways and trees to provide shelter from the searing heat definitely made the going easier for those who turned up in droves.
There were also benches for them to rest after walking the length of the circuit while there were makeshift pedestrian bridges to cross from one side of the track to the other.  
And in the distance, landmarks like the Prime Minister’s Office could be seen.
Those lucky enough had the chance to take a walk on the grid before the start of the race and take random shots of drivers and other team members. 
The grid girls proved popular among those frantically snapping photos. And the same went for the three girls who held the FanBoosted sign for the three drivers (Katherine Legge, Bruno Senna and Nick Heidfeld) who received the most votes from FanBoost. 
FanBoost allows fans to vote for their favourite driver by giving them an extra “speed burst” during the race, which helps in overtaking.
When the race started, fans were seen either staying put at the grandstands or walking from one spot to another behind the metal safety barriers to catch a glimpse of the cars whizzing by. 
And they went wild and cheered enthusiastically for Sam Bird from Virgin Racing, who became the first Putrajaya ePrix winner. 
And while the fans waited hours before the race started, their exit from the circuit seemed easy enough with the different exit points while others stayed behind to take more shots of the venue in the midst of overcast clouds. 


A future with electric cars, says PM

By Audrey Edwards

PUTRAJAYA — Malaysia will push and play its part for a future where electric cars are the mainstay of the day.
“I think the way forward is electric cars. We must go electric,” Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Razak said yesterday after attending the inaugural Putrajaya Formula E race. 
“It’s the future. And you talk about carbon emission, I think all cars should be electric one day.”
He said the key was to produce batteries which were cheaper and lasted longer.
On the race itself, Najib said the Putrajaya street circuit was ideal for Formula E races.  
“We will try to continue with it.”
He said the race had managed to showcase Malaysia and the country’s administrative capital to 120 countries that telecast it “live”.
Najib said the race, which is the second race in the FIA Formula E Championship calendar after Beijing, was an “excellent” race. 
“It was very exciting and the circuit is lovely. Everybody is happy. I’ve talked to the drivers and organisers, and they are happy.”
Formula E Malaysia Sdn Bhd chairman Datuk Seri Johann Young said there were about 91,000 people who came in with general admission ticket and another 3,000 were on the grandstands, adding that the “live” broadcast was also the best branding one could get for the country. 
“It has been a great success for Malaysia,” Young said.
Young said the crowds were spread out throughout the circuit area and they were treated to various entertainment by way of the cultural and e-villages. 
When asked about teething problems faced by the organiser, he said they would continue improvng on it. 
“It’s our first year. It takes time to learn what mistakes we made,” he said, adding that a post-mortem would be carried out. 
Former prime minister Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad also said the race was a “good thing” as it promoted the country overseas. 
“They have a chance to see Malaysia and also Putrajaya. I feel good.”


Autograph seeker brimming with joy at being the first 

PUTRAJAYA — The way Mohammad Basheer was shrieking with joy and sprinting towards his friends, it looked like he had just won the lottery. 
The 16-year-old’s excitement was because he had been the first in line for the FIA Formula E Championship drivers’ autograph session and proceeded to show off his “loot” to the rest of his friends.
He had just gotten the autographs of his favourite drivers Lucas di Grassi and Daniel Abt from the Audi Sport Abt team. 
“I even got a flash drive because I was the first in line,” said the Nilai International School student, adding that he had been queued for about two hours before the session started. 
Mohammad, from Saudi Arabia, was among the thousands of people who turned up to watch the Putrajaya ePrix yesterday. 
“I was so excited  I couldn’t sleep last night.
“I have been looking forward to this and my teacher bought the tickets a month ago.”
The 34 students were chaperoned by their teacher, Wan Dalila Wan Ismail, who said the trip was part of their business studies to study about green technology. 
Another racing fan who was spotted at the circuit after the autograph session was Farah Lee, who came with her mother Rosalind Leong. 
“It was a huge rush and I felt like a tiny tuna in a very compact can,” Lee said. 
“There just wasn’t any designated line for us.”
Lee, 30, who has been to the Formula One races at the Sepang International Circuit, added that the Formula E could be a viable start for races in the future. 
She also said that the organisation of the race could be improved including having more promotional activities.
Ahmad Fazilla Othman, who works with Putrajaya Holdings, said the event was a good idea to showcase Putrajaya and Malaysia to the world. 
“At least there is some excitement plus I’m excited to see these environmental-friendly cars,” he said. 
James Hayduk, a Brit who has been working in Malaysia for the past year in the oil and gas industry, was seen with his two sons, Edward, four; and George, two.
“My son (Edward) loves watching race cars and I had wanted to take him for the Formula One but we thought it would be too loud for him,” he said. 
“But here, it’s not too loud and the race is only an hour, which is perfect. It’s great to see street racing and it’s something that boys like. He said the cars were faster than Lightning McQueen (from the movie Cars).”


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