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Formula E, Diriyah E-Prix: Bird, Sims score wins

24th Nov 2019 1:43 pm

Porsche and Mercedes kick off Formula E campaign on a high note too, with podium finishes.

Ever-changing track conditions in Saudi Arabia set the stage for an unpredictable pair of races, as the lights went green on an all-new season of Formula E. Sam Bird and Alexander Sims ended up winning a race each at the Diriyah E-Prix, and the two races also saw both the new entrants – Porsche and Mercedes – impress with podium finishes on their Formula E debut. However, in typical Formula E fashion, a clear order of performance has yet to emerge after the season-opener.

Round 1

Despite securing pole position for the first race, Sims’ chances of clinching victory soon slipped away. After the race, the BMW i Andretti driver revealed that he knew he was in for a difficult race, realising fairly early on that his car was consuming more energy than his competitors. After holding on to the lead for majority of the race, he found himself drop down the order with 15 minutes to go; he was passed by Stoffel Vandoorne, Sam Bird and Andre Lotterer in quick succession.

The attack mode – which gives drivers an extra 35kW of power for a brief period but requires them to drive off the racing line to activate it – played a crucial role in the race. All drivers have to compulsorily use it twice during a race, thereby making room for strategic gameplay.

Vandoorne may have been in the lead, but he was the only frontrunner to yet take his final attack mode. Bird finally pulled off a crucial race-winning move on the Mercedes driver, with 10 minutes to go, clinching the race lead. Meanwhile, Vandoorne lost a place to Lotterer as he took his final attack mode. The safety car was brought out soon after, as Daniel Abt’s car crashed into the wall after making contact with Antonio Felix da Costa. At the re-start, Bird was able to successfully pull away and he kept both Lotterer and Vandoorne at bay to win the first race of the season. Nevertheless, a 2nd- and 3rd-place finish can be considered to be a dream start for Formula E’s new entrants, Porsche and Mercedes.

It was a tough day on track for Mahindra Racing, with Jerome d’Ambrosio finishing the race in 9th place and Pascal Wehrlein finishing just outside the points in 11th place.

Round 2

The second race ended up being a drive of redemption for Sims as this time around, he was able to successfully convert his pole position into victory. The British driver remained in firm control in the lead from the very start and crossed the finish line in first place to clinch his maiden Formula E victory.

But behind Sims, it was an incident-packed race. While attempting an overtaking move for 2nd place, da Costa nudged Sebastien Buemi, sending the Nissan driver into oncoming traffic. Buemi rejoined the field in 15th place but several drivers were forced to take avoiding action as he did so. As a result, da Costa was handed a drivethrough penalty for causing a collision, while Buemi was handed a 10-second time penalty for his actions.

Coming off the high of winning the first race, Envision Virgin Racing endured a disastrous second race with both its drivers – Bird and Robin Frijns – retiring. The Safety Car was called out as the marshals collected Bird’s stricken car. At the re-start, Sims’ BMW teammate Maximillian Günther overtook Lucas di Grassi and Vandoorne before getting to the Safety Car line – an incident for which he was handed a 24-second time penalty after the race.

As a result, despite crossing the line in 2nd place and standing on the podium after the race, Günther has been classified as finishing the race in 11th place. This promoted di Grassi to 2nd place, while Vandoorne moved up to 3rd, handing Mercedes yet another podium. Meanwhile, Mahindra Racing walked away from the race with no points as d’Ambrosio had to retire due to technical issues and Wehrlein finished 15th after sustaining some damage on track.

After the opening two races, Sims now leads the drivers’ standings with 35 points, followed by Vandoorne with 30 points and Bird with 26 points. The 2019/20 Formula E season will now resume after a long break, with the Santiago E-Prix in Chile on January 18, 2020.

Results

Diriyah E-Prix Round 1

Pos

Driver

Team

Car

Gap

1

Sam Bird

Virgin

Audi

46m17.371s

2

Andre Lotterer

Porsche

Porsche

1.319s

3

Stoffel Vandoorne

Mercedes

Mercedes

1.672s

4

Oliver Rowland

e.dams

Nissan

1.944s

5

Robin Frijns

Virgin

Audi

3.983s

6

Nyck de Vries

Mercedes

Mercedes

4.560s

7

Edoardo Mortara

Venturi

Mercedes

5.122s

8

Alexander Sims

BMW

BMW

5.715s

9

Jerome d'Ambrosio

Mahindra

Mahindra

6.628s

10

Mitch Evans

Jaguar

Jaguar

7.048s

11

Pascal Wehrlein

Mahindra

Mahindra

7.460s

12

Felipe Massa

Venturi

Mercedes

8.166s

13

Lucas di Grassi

Audi

Audi

8.404s

14

Antonio Felix da Costa

DS Techeetah

DS

8.853s

15

Oliver Turvey

NIO

NIO

10.172s

16

James Calado

Jaguar

Jaguar

11.572s

17

Neel Jani

Porsche

Porsche

15.429s

18

Max Guenther

BMW

BMW

25.662s

19

Brendon Hartley

Dragon

Penske

52.219s

20

Ma Qing Hua

NIO

NIO

1 Lap

-

Daniel Abt

Audi

Audi

Retirement

-

Jean-Eric Vergne

DS Techeetah

DS

Retirement

-

Sebastien Buemi

e.dams

Nissan

Retirement

-

Nico Muller

Dragon

Penske

Not started

 

Diriyah E-Prix Round 2

Pos

Driver

Team

Car

Gap

1

Alexander Sims

BMW

BMW

46m48.327s

2

Lucas di Grassi

Audi

Audi

2.817s

3

Stoffel Vandoorne

Mercedes

Mercedes

3.581s

4

Edoardo Mortara

Venturi

Mercedes

4.294s

5

Oliver Rowland

e.dams

Nissan

5.475s

6

Daniel Abt

Audi

Audi

16.942s

7

James Calado

Jaguar

Jaguar

17.221s

8

Jean-Eric Vergne

DS Techeetah

DS

19.394s

9

Brendon Hartley

Dragon

Penske

20.702s

10

Antonio Felix da Costa

DS Techeetah

DS

22.634s

11

Max Günther

BMW

BMW

25.383s

12

Sebastien Buemi

e.dams

Nissan

26.291s

13

Neel Jani

Porsche

Porsche

27.493s

14

Andre Lotterer

Porsche

Porsche

29.046s

15

Pascal Wehrlein

Mahindra

Mahindra

35.290s

16

Nyck de Vries

Mercedes

Mercedes

36.318s

17

Felipe Massa

Venturi

Mercedes

45.758s

18

Mitch Evans

Jaguar

Jaguar

1m01.105s

19

Ma Qing Hua

NIO

NIO

1m28.165s

-

Oliver Turvey

NIO

NIO

Disqualified

-

Nico Muller

Dragon

Penske

Retirement

-

Robin Frijns

Virgin

Audi

Retirement

-

Sam Bird

Virgin

Audi

Retirement

-

Jerome d'Ambrosio

Mahindra

Mahindra

Not started

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