Sam Bird has hailed his victory in Santiago as an “incredible achievement” for the Envision Virgin Racing squad after a mixed start to the 2018/19 FIA Formula E season. 

The British team scored no points after a tough opening round in Ad Diriyah but bounced back with a pole position and double podium in Marrakesh, before Bird became the third different winner of season five in Chile having capitalised on a mistake by erstwhile race-leaser Sebastien Buemi. 

Bird assumed the lead when the Nissan e.dams driver crashed out and held off the advances of Mahindra’s Pascal Wehrlein to take his first victory of 2018/19, a result that saw him become the only driver to have won a race in every FE campaign to date. 

“That was a great, but challenging race,” Bird said. 

“No-one really knew going into this race how the battery and tyres would react in these extreme temperatures. The whole race we were going into the unknown. 

“But to get the result we did is fantastic, and my thanks goes to everyone at Envision Virgin Racing for once again putting in the hours to give us this win. 

“It’s been a steep learning curve for the team, with the limited testing we’ve had, so to find ourselves in a situation where we’re winning races - to go with pole positions and podiums from previous races - is an incredible achievement.”

The win - coupled with a post-race time penalty for Jerome d’Ambrosio - moves Bird into a two-point lead at the top of the drivers’ standings, while Virgin, which switched to an Audi e-Tron powertrain for 2018/19, now leads the way in the teams’ championship. 

“We went with Audi for a reason,” Bird added. “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.”

Virgin managing director Sylvain Filippi praised his team for the “huge effort” that ultimately went into winning the race. 

“After the success of our double podium at the last race, it’s an amazing feeling to come here to Chile and go even better,” he said. 

“The whole team, as always, put in a huge effort to prepare for this race and that hard work clearly shows in the results here. I’d also like to thank the whole Audi Sport team for their contribution to this result. 

“The high temperatures were always going to make the conditions tough, but Sam and Robin drove superbly, and we now head to the next race in Mexico full of confidence.”