Finally, the 5th season of the FAI Formal E championship had its kick-off start in one of the most exotic places on the race calendar – Ad Diriyah Saudi Arabia.
Staged in the heart of a UNESCO World Heritage site, the world saw its Formula E debut race in Saudi Arabia, the first ever circuit race in Saudi Arabia. With a fantastic entertainment program and exciting race action everyone agreed, it was a great success.
First in qualifying, da Costa had trouble parking his car on the grid. Trying to correct this minor embarrassment by doing the classic reverse move, his car finally pointed towards the barriers.
Yet, he led the pack in the first corners but lost the lead temporarily in lap 15 to Jean-Eric Vergne.
However, Vergne and Lotterer were given drive-through penalties for technical infringements, as were Alexander Sims and Felipe Massa.
After a safety car incident, due to a left-rear suspension failure by Lopez, Vergne emerged in fifth position bringing him back into play for the final laps of the race.
Using Attack Mode Vergne regained second and in a dramatic final lap, he made a last attempt to capture back the lead from da Costa.
But Vergne fell short by 0.462s as da Costa prevailed. It would be da Costa’s second win in Formula E and the first for his team BMW on its FE debut.
d’Ambrosio finished on the podium for Mahindra, demonstrating again Mahindras competitiveness in Formula E. Felix Rosenquist had to retire early who replaced d’Ambriosio official teammate Pascal Wehrlein.
Wehrlein had a contractual obligation with Mercedes his former employer, to miss this race. However, he will have his debut race for Formula E next month in Marrakesh.
Mitch Evans from NZL Panasonic Jaguar Racing came in P4, ahead of Lotterer and Buemi. Oliver Rowland finished P7, with Daniel Abt, Lucas di Grassi and Nelson Piquet Jr.
Lotterer also got an extra point for securing the fastest lap of the ePrix.
Felipe Massa was 14th on his FE debut but was running inside the points when he received his penalty.
According to Fia Formula E, drivers praised the track, and motor sport fans were treated with plenty of action, surprising rain, and a first-class entertainment program that included live music, and cultural events.
For the first time, the Gen2 cars made their debut on the 2.495km track in the desert country. With a new futuristic design, they did not only impress the drivers with a fast laps, but also the audience.
Alongside new cars, new drivers, new teams and a new track, the 2018 SAUDIA Ad Diriyah E-Prix saw the debut of a new power mode in the form of ATTACK MODE.
Placed off the racing line on the exit of Turn 17, all 22 drivers had to pass through the ATTACK MODE activation zone twice, each time collecting an additional 25kW of power that they could engage for four minutes each time during the race.
With the season opener and Saudi showdown already over and done with, we’re already looking forward to the next race – the 2019 Marrakesh E-Prix where Formula E returns for the third time in the series’ history. Get ready for sand, souks and a spectacular showdown in Morocco’s magical city of Marrakesh. The battle for the streets is back. Join us.
1. Antonio Felix da Costa POR BMW i Andretti Motorsport 33 laps
2. Jean-Eric Vergne FRA DS Techeetah + 0.462s
3. Jerome d’Ambrosio BEL Mahindra Racing + 4.033s
4. Mitch Evans NZL Panasonic Jaguar Racing + 5.383s
5. Andre Lotterer BEL DS Techeetah + 5.579s
6. Sebastien Buemi SUI Nissan e.dams + 6.625s
7. Oliver Rowland GBR Nissan e.dams + 9.105s
8. Daniel Abt GER Audi Sport ABT Schaeffler + 9.819s
9. Lucas di Grassi BRA Audi Sport ABT Schaeffler + 10.936s
10. Nelson Piquet Jr. BRA Panasonic Jaguar Racing + 11.564s
11. Sam Bird GBR Envision Virgin Racing + 11.747s
12. Robin Frijns NED Envision Virgin Racing + 12.189s
13. Oliver Turvey GBR NIO Formula E Team + 13.104s
14. Felipe Massa BRA Venturi Formula E Team + 13.610s
15. Tom Dillmann FRA NIO Formula E Team + 14.273s
16. Maximilian Gunther GER GEOX Dragon + 16.161s
17. Stoffel Vandoorne BEL HWA Racelab + 20.013s
18. Alexander Sims GBR BMW i Andretti Motorsport + 47.712s
19. Edoardo Mortara SUI Venturi Formula E Team + 1 lap
Ret. Jose Maria Lopez ARG GEOX Dragon 25 laps
Ret. Gary Paffett GBR HWA Racelab 9 laps
Ret. Felix Rosenqvist SWE Mahindra Racing 8 laps