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

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

    Published On Nov 24, 2019 01:43:00 PM

    4,341 Views

    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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