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Flag of Saudi Arabia 2018 Ad Diriyah E-Prix
Ad Diriyah Layout 2018
The new Ad Diriyah Street Circuit
Race Information
Date 15 December 2018
Official Name 2018 SAUDIA Ad Diriyah E-Prix
Location Flag of Riyadh Ad Diriyah Street Circuit, Ad Diriyah, Riyadh, Saudi Arabia
Lap length 2.495 km (1.550 mi)
Distance 33 laps / 82.335 km (51.161 mi)
Support Race Flag of Saudi Arabia 2018 Ad Diriyah eTrophy Race
Qualifying Result
Pole Sitter Portugal António Félix da Costa
Team Germany BMW i Andretti Motorsport
Time 1:17.728
Fastest Lap
Driver Germany André Lotterer
Team People's Republic of China DS Techeetah
Fastest Lap 1:12.591 on lap 32
ePrix Result
First Second Third
Portugal António Félix da Costa France Jean-Éric Vergne Flag of Belgium Jérôme d'Ambrosio
Winner Team Germany BMW i Andretti Motorsport
Time 0:46:29.377
ePrix Guide
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2018 New York City E-Prix II 2019 Marrakech E-Prix
Post-Race Test Flag of Saudi Arabia 2018 Ad Diriyah Test

The 2018 Ad Diriyah E-Prix, otherwise officially known as the 2018 SAUDIA Ad Diriyah E-Prix (2018 بطولة الدرعية الإلكترونية in Arabic), was the opening round of the 2018/19 ABB FIA Formula E Championship, staged at the Ad Diriyah Street Circuit on the 15 December 2018.[1][2] The race, which was the first E-Prix to be staged in the Middle East, saw Jean-Éric Vergne open his title defence after staying with DS Techeetah.[1]

Qualifying would not, however, go to plan at the opening round, for heavy rain disrupted the schedule so much that the field had to be split into two groups, while Super Pole was dropped altogether.[3] Regardless, António Félix da Costa would sweep to pole on a damp track ahead of José María López, while six drivers received penalties for power and/or technical infringements.[3]

da Costa would duly lead the field away from pole, despite making a mess of slotting his car onto his grid slot, while López lost out to Sébastien Buemi on the run to the chicane.[4] The rest of the field made it through the opening corners fairly cleanly, until Edoardo Mortara sent himself skating into the barriers at turn one, breaking his front wing.[4]

Mortara would, however, manage to drag himself out of the barriers and return to the pits for repairs, while da Costa tried to break away out front.[4] Indeed, after the opening tour the man to watch proved to be defending Champion Vergne, with the Frenchman scything past López on lap four and dragging teammate André Lotterer along with him.[4]

As the two DS Techeetahs set about chasing down the leading duo of da Costa and Buemi, Oliver Turvey became the first driver to activate Attack Mode, and duly entered a scrap with similarly boosted teammate Tom Dillmann.[4] It was, however, around this time that the first retirements of the season came, with Felix Rosenqvist and Gary Paffett both stopping on track with issues.[4]

Fortunately both cars were cleared without the need to interrupt the race, allowing Vergne to elbow his way past Buemi without issue.[4] A couple of laps later and the Frenchman sent his DS Techeetah around the outside of da Costa for the lead at the chicane, although the Portuguese racer did not simply allow Vergne to disappear up the road.[4]

Indeed, da Costa would soon be rewarded for his efforts to stay with the Techeetah racer, for Vergne was one of a number of drivers to be sent through the pitlane after using too much re-gen.[4] The Frenchman rejoined in fifth behind López, Jérôme d'Ambrosio and Buemi, although he soon found himself in third as the Argentine sent his GEOX Dragon into the barriers with a handful of minutes to go.[4]

Ultimately a combination of FanBoost and Attack Mode would settle the race, with da Costa using both at the restart to pull away from d'Ambrosio and Vergne with a couple of laps to go.[4] Vergne would, however, run him very close, sending a late lunge at the Portuguese racer into the chicane on the final lap, having elbowed past d'Ambrosio at the restart.[4]

Regardless, da Costa was able to hang on and claim his first win in FE since the 2015 Buenos Aires ePrix, while Vergne and d'Ambrosio completed the podium.[4] Mitch Evans sneaked up to fourth in the closing stages ahead of Lotterer, another driver slapped with a penalty mid-race, while Buemi slumped to sixth after the restart.[4]

BackgroundEdit

It proved to be a busy summer ahead of the opening round of the fifth edition of the ABB FIA Formula E Championship, with a base new car, two new manufacturers, a selection of new drivers and a hugely revised calendar to examine. Indeed, Ad Diriyah was one of the new unknowns for the series, with the historic Saudi Arabian capital set to make its debut as a host of the FE Championship.[5] The new Ad Diriyah Street Circuit would be located close to the historic city centre, with a mix of chicanes and sweeping curves making up the circuit.[2]

The Ad Diriyah E-Prix will also be the first E-Prix to feature a support race, with the 2018/19 Jaguar I-Pace eTrophy kicking off with its inaugural race.[6]

Regulation RevisionsEdit

Elsewhere the most significant change ahead of the 2018/19 campaign would be the addition of the new Spark SRT05e, replacing the series' old Spark-Renault SRT_01E as the base chassis for all 22 entries.[7] The new car featured a hugely revised body, with elements of prototype sports cars mixed with a traditional single-seater style.[7] All 22 cars also featured the HALO safety device as well, and were built in partnership between Dallara, Spark Racing Technologies and McLaren Applied Technologies.[7]

Indeed, the revised car signalled a change in regulations, with the McLaren sourced battery intended to last an entire race distance.[8] Furthermore, the race format was changed, making each race last 45 minutes plus one lap, a change intended to make race strategies more dynamic, due to the lack of a mid-race pitstop.[8] Additionally, the updated regulations included a power increase to 250 kw/h (335 bhp) in qualifying mode, a 200 kw/h (270 bhp) limit in race mode, and a provision for a new "Attack Mode" boost to be used during the E-Prix.[9]

Changes were also made to the qualifying format ahead of the new season, with the group/Super Pole format retained, but with some minor tweaks.[10] Indeed, each group would now be based on Championship position, with the top five (or six) in the Championship in the opening group, sixth (or seventh) to tenth (or twelfth) in the second, and so on.[10] Super Pole was also expanded to include a sixth driver, although each driver would still get a completely empty circuit to complete their pole lap on.[10]

There was also a proposed change to the point scoring system, with the fastest lap point set to be replaced by an "efficiency" bonus point for the most efficient driver.[10] However, the scheme was to be delayed for a season by the World Motor Sport Council, with the fastest lap point retained for an additional year.[11]

It was also announced that the opening round would be followed by a one-day test, scheduled to use the Ad Diriyah circuit the day after the race.[12] This test was intended to allow a number of female racers to get a taste of FE, and give teams more running time with their new-for-2018/19 equipment.[12]

Enticing EntrantsEdit

The new season would also see a new team join the series, increasing the total number of entries to 22 for the season.[13] The new team would be HWA Racelab, a longstanding partner of Mercedes in the DTM, with powertrains built by Venturi Automobiles.[13] Indeed, HWA's maiden campaign in FE was part of the Silver Arrows' impending arrival in 2019/20, with the German squad set to become their factory squad in season six.[14]

HWA reveal 2018

HWA Racelab revealed their first FE livery in early October, with Gary Paffett and Stoffel Vandoorne listed as their drivers.

The new effort would also field to new drivers to FE, partnering a two-time DTM Champion with a Formula One refugee.[15][16] Indeed, veteran Mercedes racer Gary Paffett would lead the team on the track, the Brit having aided development of the VFE 05 since its creation.[15] He would later be joined by ex-McLaren racer Stoffel Vandoorne, who had been left without a seat in F1 for the 2019 season.[16]

Elsewhere, Nissan made their debut in the series, becoming the first Japanese car manufacturer to compete in FE.[17] They replaced alliance partners Renault as the French manufacturer moved focus to their F1 programme, although Nissan would retain the former's partnership with e.Dams to run their cars.[17] They would also use a powertrain developed by Renault for the fifth FE season, while they also retained season two Champion Sébastien Buemi to lead the team.[18] The Japanese-French squad would also test a number of drivers to partner the Swiss ace after releasing Nicolas Prost, before ultimately settling on Formula Two star Alexander Albon.[18]

However, on the eve of the 2018 Valencia Test it was revealed that Scuderia Toro Rosso, an entrant in F1, were in talks to sign Albon for the 2019 FIA Formula One World Championship after various driver transfers in that particular series.[19] Those negotiations would ultimately prevent Albon taking part in the test, his place taken by one-time FE racer Oliver Rowland, although the Anglo-Thai racer was still listed on the official entry list published in early November.[20] The talks between Albon, e.Dams and Toro Rosso continued, however, until Albon was officially released by e.Dams and subsequently signed by Toro Rosso on the 26 November 2018, leaving the Japanese-French squad to look for another driver on the eve of the season.[21] It was subsequently revealed that Rowland would inherit Albon's seat for the full 2018/19 campaign in the buildup to the Ad Diriyah E-Prix.[22]

BMW were also set to make their long awaited debut as a manufacturer, partnering with Andretti Motorsport to form BMW i Andretti Motorsport.[23] Indeed, the new German-American alliance saw BMW factory driver Alexander Sims join the team, partnering FE veteran, and fellow BMW star racer António Félix da Costa.[24] Indeed, the pair had been co-operating in developing the car long before the end of the 2017/18 season, with Andretti Technologies staff working alongside the Bavarian manufacturer's engineers.[25]

The other change in allegiances came at Techeetah, who managed to usurp Virgin Racing to become the factory DS squad for 2018/19.[26] The Chinese squad also retained their duo of defending Champion Jean-Éric Vergne alongside André Lotterer, with the Frenchman again leading the team in hopes of becoming the first driver to successfully defend his crown.[27] Virgin, meanwhile, were left to obtain a customer powertrain deal, duly signing up with 2017/18 Champions Audi to keep competing in the Championship.[28]

Virgin themselves would also managed to hold onto their star driver from season four in the form of Sam Bird, bringing in Audi factory driver Robin Frijns to replace Alex Lynn.[29][30] The British team also announced that they had changed their name to Envision Virgin Racing, having moved their headquarters to Silverstone from Donington Park.[28] Audi, meanwhile, would retain their title winning duo of Lucas di Grassi and Daniel Abt, and started the season as favourites having dominated the second half of 2017/18.[23][31]

Elsewhere, the NIO Formula E Team had a new driver to partner Oliver Turvey, with Tom Dillmann brought in after being released by Venturi.[32] Venturi themselves had also been busy revising their line-up, bringing in ex-F1 racer Felipe Massa to partner Edoardo Mortara.[33][34] Indeed, the Monegasque squad had also had a change in backroom staff over the summer, with Susie Wolff, wife of Mercedes boss Toto Wolff, brought in as Team Principle.[35]

Jaguar I Pace eTrophy car 2018

While Jaguar's FE team was unchanged, the British marque were running their own FE support series for 2018/19.

The only team to start the campaign with an unchanged driver or team line-up would be Jaguar Racing, with Nelson Piquet Jr. and Mitch Evans sticking with the British manufacturer.[36] Elsewhere, Dragon Racing obtained a new title sponsor in the form of GEOX, with José María López retained for season five, before announcing that they had signed Maximilian Günther after a promising run at the 2018 Valencia Test.[37][38] Their former driver Jérôme d'Ambrosio, meanwhile, would join Mahindra Racing, with the Belgian set to be partnered by Mercedes DTM refugee Pascal Wehrlein.[39][40] However, the Mahindra line-up would be revised ahead of the opening race, with Felix Rosenqvist returning for the season opener as Wehrlein still had to fulfil commitments for Mercedes.[41]

Future FormationsEdit

Away from the intrigue around the Ad Diriyah E-Prix, there would also be news of the following FE season, set to kick off in December 2019. This news centred upon the revelation that a race in Seoul was being negotiated, with plans visiting the South Korean capital in 2020 being negotiated by Formula E Holdings.[42] There was also news from incoming manufacturers Porsche, who announced that their new powertrain was already being tested on a dynamometer, while ex-Dragon racer Neel Jani would lead their maiden FE charge.[43][44]

Entry ListEdit

The full entry list for the 2018 Ad Diriyah E-Prix is displayed below:

2018 Ad Diriyah E-Prix Entry List
No. Name Entrant Constructor Car
2 Flag of the United Kingdom Sam Bird Flag of the United Kingdom Envision Virgin Racing Audi e-tron FE05
3 Brazil Nelson Piquet Jr. Flag of the United Kingdom Panasonic Jaguar Racing Jaguar I-Type III
4 Dutch Flag Robin Frijns Flag of the United Kingdom Envision Virgin Racing Audi e-tron FE05
5 Flag of Belgium Stoffel Vandoorne Germany HWA Racelab Venturi VFE 05
6 Germany Maximilian Günther Flag of the United States GEOX Dragon Penske EV-3
7 Argentina José María López Flag of the United States GEOX Dragon Penske EV-3
8 France Tom Dillmann Flag of the United Kingdom NIO Formula E Team NIO Sport 004
11 Brazil Lucas di Grassi Germany Audi Sport ABT Schaeffler Audi e-tron FE05
16 Flag of the United Kingdom Oliver Turvey Flag of the United Kingdom NIO Formula E Team NIO Sport 004
17 Flag of the United Kingdom Gary Paffett Germany HWA Racelab Venturi VFE 05
19 Brazil Felipe Massa Monaco Venturi Formula E Team Venturi VFE 05
20 Flag of New Zealand Mitch Evans Flag of the United Kingdom Panasonic Jaguar Racing Jaguar I-Type III
22 Flag of the United Kingdom Oliver Rowland Flag of Japan Nissan e.Dams Nissan IM01
23 Switzerland Sébastien Buemi Flag of Japan Nissan e.Dams Nissan IM01
25 France Jean-Éric Vergne People's Republic of China DS Techeetah DS E-Tense FE 19
27 Flag of the United Kingdom Alexander Sims Germany BMW i Andretti Motorsport BMW iFE.18
28 Portugal António Félix da Costa Germany BMW i Andretti Motorsport BMW iFE.18
36 Germany André Lotterer People's Republic of China DS Techeetah DS E-Tense FE 19
48 Switzerland Edoardo Mortara Monaco Venturi Formula E Team Venturi VFE 05
64 Flag of Belgium Jérôme d'Ambrosio Flag of India Mahindra Racing Mahindra M5Electro
66 Germany Daniel Abt Germany Audi Sport ABT Schaeffler Audi e-tron FE05
94 Flag of Sweden Felix Rosenqvist Flag of India Mahindra Racing Mahindra M5Electro
Source:[45]

PracticeEdit

FP1Edit

FP2Edit

QualifyingEdit

Qualifying ahead of the opening round of the 2018/19 season would have to be heavily revised after a morning of heavy rain in Ad Diriyah, with the original groups restructured, and Super Pole cancelled completely.[46] Instead of four groups of between five or six drivers, the field was split into two, with the original group one and group three merged, as were groups two and four.[46] Each super group would then get a fifteen minute window in which to set a single full power lap, although the number of permitted 200kW laps was up in the air as the first drivers hit the circuit.[47]

Group AEdit

The opening super group of the weekend would feature the top six from the 2017/18 Championship, combined with those who finished in the second half of the table that season.[46] That meant that defending Champion Jean-Éric Vergne would hit the circuit first alongside title rival Sam Bird, with former FE Champions Lucas di Grassi and Sébastien Buemi also in action.[46] Daniel Abt would join them too alongside one of the pre-season favourites António Félix da Costa, with Edoardo Mortara, Jérôme d'Ambrosio, José María López, Tom Dillmann and the returning Robin Frijns completing the first XI.[46]

The first driver out onto the very damp Ad Diriyah Street Circuit would be Dillmann, although just why the Frenchman decided to go out in the opening moments of the session was not entirely clear.[47] However, it was soon revealed that the Frenchman, as well as the NIO squad, were gambling on a change of rules due to the conditions, for Dillmann completed several 200 kW laps on an completely empty circuit.[47] Unfortunately the officials had not changed the rules regarding the number of laps that could be completed at 200kW, which were limited to one, and so the Frenchman was immediately put under investigation.[47]

Regardless, Dillmann recorded one of the best laps of the day when he did eventually attempt a full 250kW power lap, slithering around Ad Diriyah to record a 1:17.893, just as the rest of the field headed out onto the track.[47] López went next in the first of the GEOX Dragons, ending up two tenths off, before Vergne opened his title defence with a very slithery lap.[47] Indeed, the defending Champion would have two scary moments as his car twitched through turns six and the final corner, before crossing the line some seven tenths off of Dillmann's effort.[47]

As Vergne slithered across the line all of the attention was placed on da Costa, who was quietly shaving a few hundredths off of Dillmann's lap every sector.[47] Come the end of the lap the Portuguese ace was 0.165s up on the Frenchman, putting him on provisional pole.[47] Indeed, the only man on course to beat da Costa's BMW-Andretti was Bird, although a mistake in the final sector ultimately saw the Brit slip to fifth at the end of the group's session.[47]

Group BEdit

The second FE XI of the afternoon would see those who finished seventh through to twelfth in the 2017/18 campaign hit the circuit, combined with almost all of the new faces to the series.[46] Most interest in the group therefore focused on new-boy Alexander Sims in the BMW-Andretti after his impressive run at the 2018 Valencia Test, with the two Jaguars of Nelson Piquet Jr. and Mitch Evans also on track.[46] Felix Rosenqvist would also hit the circuit alongside Oliver Turvey, Oliver Rowland and André Lotterer, while Gary Paffett, Stoffel Vandoorne, Felipe Massa, Maximilian Günther and the aforementioned Sims would all get their first tastes of FE qualifying on a still wet Ad Diriyah circuit.[46]

The circuit was hardly any better when the first of the group B drivers hit the circuit, with large puddles lurking just off the racing line ready to catch out the drivers.[47] Paffett was the first to venture out in the opening minutes of the session, although a very scruffy lap, with two huge slides at turns ten and fourteen leaving him down the order.[47] Rowland followed his compatriot out, but a brush against the wall at turn one destroyed his lap early on, while Turvey and Sims had quiet runs to slot ahead of the HWA Racelab racer.[47]

Indeed, the star of the group proved to be Vandoorne, who slithered through the final chicane to record the fastest time in group B, a 1:18.490.[47] Lotterer was on-course to beat his effort, only for red flag to be thrown after Maximilian Günther clipped the wall and stopped at turn seven.[47] The session resumed with three minutes to go, with Lotterer, Massa, Evans, Piquet and Rosenqvist still to run.[47]

Lotterer was the first of those to go, but a mistake in the final sector left him adrift of Vandoorne's time, despite having a cleaner opening to the lap.[47] Rosenqvist was set to follow him through in the Mahindra, although a hydraulic failure heading into the final corner sent the #94 car bouncing along the outside wall before smashing into the tyre barriers.[47] That caused another red flag, although Piquet, Evans and Massa all completed their laps before the marshals managed to throw the signal.[47]

Post QualifyingEdit

After the session it was revealed that six drivers had received penalties, including three of the four Audi powered cars.[48] Indeed, di Grassi, Bird and Frijns were all found to have had a power spike during their full-power runs, meaning their times were officially deleted and hence left them at the back of the field.[48] A similar fate befell Rowland, while the two NIOs of Turvey and Dillmann were thrown out of qualifying completely after a mandatory sensor required for the FIA's data logging systems were found to be absent.[48]

The final qualifying result for the 2018 Ad Diriyah E-Prix are outlined below:

2018 Ad Diriyah E-Prix Qualifying Result
Pos. No. Name Team Time Gap Grid
1st 28 Portugal António Félix da Costa Germany BMW i Andretti Motorsport 1:17.728 1
2nd 7 Argentina José María López Flag of the United States GEOX Dragon 1:18.113 +0.385s 2
3rd 23 Switzerland Sébastien Buemi Flag of Japan Nissan e.Dams 1:18.269 +0.541s 3
4th 5 Flag of Belgium Stoffel Vandoorne Germany HWA Racelab 1:18.490 +0.762s 4
5th 25 France Jean-Éric Vergne People's Republic of China DS Techeetah 1:18.571 +0.843s 5
6th 64 Flag of Belgium Jérôme d'Ambrosio Flag of India Mahindra Racing 1:19.077 +1.349s 6
7th 36 Germany André Lotterer People's Republic of China DS Techeetah 1:19.317 +1.589s 7
8th 20 Flag of New Zealand Mitch Evans Flag of the United Kingdom Jaguar Racing 1:19.712 +1.984s 8
9th 17 Flag of the United Kingdom Gary Paffett Germany HWA Racelab 1:19.929 +2.201s 9
10th 48 Switzerland Edoardo Mortara Monaco Venturi Formula E Team 1:20.330 +2.602s 10
11th 27 Flag of the United Kingdom Alexander Sims Germany BMW i Andretti Motorsport 1:20.367 +2.639s 11
12th 66 Germany Daniel Abt Germany Audi Sport ABT Schaeffler 1:20.385 +2.657s 12
13th 19 Brazil Felipe Massa Monaco Venturi Formula E Team 1:20.407 +2.679s 13
14th* 22 Flag of the United Kingdom Oliver Rowland Flag of Japan Nissan e.Dams 1:20.849 +3.121s 14
15th 3 Brazil Nelson Piquet Jr. Flag of the United Kingdom Jaguar Racing 1:21.489 +3.761s 15
16th 6 Germany Maximilian Günther Flag of the United States GEOX Dragon 1:21.883 +4.155s 16
17th 94 Flag of Sweden Felix Rosenqvist Flag of India Mahindra Racing 1:23.037 +5.309s 17
18th* 11 Brazil Lucas di Grassi Germany Audi Sport ABT Schaeffler 1:25.104 +7.376s 18
110% Time: 1:25.500[45]
NC* 2 Flag of the United Kingdom Sam Bird Flag of the United Kingdom Envision Virgin Racing 1:29.625 +11.897s 19
NC* 4 Dutch Flag Robin Frijns Flag of the United Kingdom Envision Virgin Racing 1:31.566 +13.833s 20
EXC 16 Flag of the United Kingdom Oliver Turvey Flag of the United Kingdom NIO Formula E Team 1:19.912 21
EXC 8 France Tom Dillmann Flag of the United Kingdom NIO Formula E Team 1:17.893 22
Source:[45]
  • * Rowland, di Grassi, Bird and Frijns all had their full 250kW power laps deleted for exceeding the power limit.[48]
  • The 110% Time rule was abandoned due to the conditions.[47]
  • Turvey and Dillmann were excluded from the results as a sensor required for the FIA datalogger was missing.[48]

RaceEdit

The inaugural Ad Diriyah E-Prix was set to get underway at 3:00pm local time, with the circuit almost completely dry after the chaotic qualifying session, and the eTrophy Race held shortly before.[49] There was also an announcement regarding the new Attack Mode system, with the activation point moved further from the exit of turn seventeen after complaints from the drivers after the shakedown about losing too much time trying to get into the zone.[50] It was also revealed that the drivers would have to use the system twice during the race, with the 225kW mode lasting for four minutes each time it was engaged.[50]

ReportEdit

It would prove to be a relatively tame opening to the "new era" of Formula E at the start, despite António Félix da Costa making a mess of his approach to the grid ahead of the start.[49] Indeed, the Portuguese ace was so focused on warming up his tyres that he managed to overshoot his pole position grid slot, and duly had to reverse back into the slot, as well as try to get his car to point in a straight line.[49] Ultimately, however, da Costa would manage to nudge his car back far enough to be registered in his grid slot, although the nose of his car was still pointing towards the outside wall as much as it was to the first corner.[49]

Fortunately for the Portuguese ace his positional challenges would go unpunished, for fellow front row starter José María López made a poor enough getaway to allow da Costa to dart into the lead.[49] López was instead faced with the prospect of defending from Sébastien Buemi into the first corner, with the Nissan e.Dams duly sweeping ahead of the GEOX Dragon, with the rest of the field piling in behind.[49] There was also some minor confusion at the back of the field, as one of the cars in the middle of the pack appeared to move before the lights went out to signal the start, although no punishment was forthcoming.[49]

Yet, it would take until the official start of the opening lap for any real action to take place, with Edoardo Mortara finding himself skating towards the barriers after getting shoved out of the pack on the run into turn one.[49] He duly smacked into the barriers nose first, damaging his front wing, but ultimately managed to drag his car out of the barriers and back into the fray, albeit for a lonely trip back to the pits.[49] This caused some more confusion for the inexperienced marshals at the scene of the accident, whom decided that a full course yellow was required to cover the car, only to find that Mortara had gone without their aid.[49]

The FCY would not officially be called, however, and so the rest of the field were still dicing hard, as shown by André Lotterer as he went scything around the outside of Jérôme d'Ambrosio on the brakes for the turn 18/19 chicane.[49] Indeed, the German was fortunate not to receive a penalty or worse when he decided to pull across the nose of the Mahindra, with d'Ambrosio having little option but to smack into the back of the DS Techeetah, yet miraculously not cause any damage.[49] The resulting crunch behind saw Mitch Evans also get involved, while Felipe Massa used it as a chance to pull an excellent double move on Daniel Abt and Gary Paffett to break into the top ten.[49]

Out front, meanwhile, da Costa would establish a small lead over Buemi, leaving López to defend from Stoffel Vandoorne, although the Belgian was about to be relegated to fifth by Jean-Éric Vergne at the start of the second tour.[49] Next up was Lotterer, d'Ambrosio and Evans, with Massa, Abt and Paffett completing the top half of the field.[49] Mortara, meanwhile, would make it back to the pits without losing any major pieces of front wing, but lost a lap as the Venturi team fitted a spare to his car.[49]

The early minutes of the race would subsequently see the order sorted out at the lower end of the top ten, with Vandoorne steadily slipping down the order, a legacy of a suspension knocking brush with the wall on the opening scramble.[51][49] Out front, meanwhile, López would be forced into making a terrific rearguard action against Vergne, with the Argentine somehow hanging on around the outside of the Frenchman through the chicane on lap three.[49] Ultimately, however, the defending Champion was out for victory at the season opener, and duly elbowed his way into third on the following tour, taking teammate Lotterer along with him.[49]

The two Techeetahs duly engaged in a skirmish as they raced to catch up da Costa and Buemi, who had managed to pull two seconds clear of López as those behind fought.[49] The Techeetah brawl was subsequently ended when Lotterer ran wide through turn seventeen, allowing López and d'Ambrosio to optimistically lunge at the German, although it was a lunge from Lotterer to the inside chicane across the nose of López that caused more moaning over the Argentine's radio.[49] Regardless, all three made it through without contact or punishment, with Lotterer soon escaping up the road once again to assist teammate Vergne in harassing Buemi.[49]

In truth Vergne would not need much help in taking the Nissan e.Dams, simply blasting past on the brakes into the chicane on lap eight moments before Felix Rosenqvist retired with an issue.[49] Paffett was the next retirement a few moments later, the HWA grinding to a halt a lap and a half on from the Swede, although neither stoppage required an interruption to the action on track.[49] That hence allowed Lotterer to elbow his way past Buemi unhindered at the start of lap eleven, just after Oliver Turvey became the first driver to use the new Attack Mode system to overtake another driver, Maximilian Günther the Brit's victim.[49]

Günther duly repaid the compliment a few laps later, while Massa pulled a well practised overtake on Vandoorne through turn 21 to move into eighth.[49] As all this was going on, however, Vergne had moved into striking distance of race leader da Costa in the BMW i Andretti Motorsport, and was almost gifted the lead when the Portuguese racer drifted wide through turn seventeen on lap twelve, although Vergne ultimately decided to wait for a better move.[49] That opportunity came a lap later into the chicane, with Vergne's brave move around the outside just enough to get the Techeetah ahead of the BMW in spite of da Costa's best efforts to hold on, although the Portuguese ace was able to keep ahead of the lurking Lotterer.[49]

As the lead trio sorted themselves out López set about attacking Buemi, sending a lunge at the Swiss racer into the chicane on lap eighteen.[49] That effort was easily swatted aside by Buemi, prompting López to try an even more aggressive move on the following lap, diving across the track as they hit the brakes for the chicane to try and squeeze the Swiss racer towards the inside wall.[49] Buemi held on once again, but ultimately had to surrender the position on the following lap, with d'Ambrosio also sneaking through as the Nissan and Dragon clashed on the apex.[49] The Belgian then almost managed to smuggle fourth away from López into turn 21, although the Argentine managed to place his car in the middle of the circuit to block d'Ambrosio's lunge.[49]

However, their fight was about to become a fight to finish on the podium, for news emerged that both Vergne and Lotterer had been slapped with a drive-through penalty for overuse of the re-gen system.[49] This came just before Lotterer used Attack Mode to blast past da Costa, who had just been informed of the German's penalty and hence opted not to resist, with the pair coming in at the end of lap 22.[49] Felipe Massa and Alexander Sims, da Costa's teammate, were also hit with the same penalty, and duly served theirs a lap later, having all engaged Attack Mode before they did so.[49]

With Vergne in fifth and Lotterer seventh, López suddenly found himself fighting for the podium again, and duly decided it was time to enter Attack Mode for the first time with eleven minutes to go to defend from d'Ambrosio.[49] Unfortunately the Argentine would miss the first part of the timing loop, gifting d'Ambrosio second as he lost pace and failed to gain the boost.[49] His second attempt a lap later also faltered, López again missing the first element of the loop, with that delay allowing Buemi and Vergne to slip through as well.[49]

A lap later and López's blushes were over, however, for the Argentine suffered a suspension failure after clipping a kerb through turn nine, just as Evans and Lotterer caught onto the back of him.[49] He was forced to park his ruined GEOX Dragon up against the barriers at turn fourteen, with the marshals ultimately deciding that a tractor was required to remove the car from the circuit.[49] A FCY and then safety car was required to cover the removal of the Argentine's car, meaning da Costa's handsome four second lead was lost, while Vergne was back in contention for victory having just moved past Buemi for third.[49]

The late safety car would end with three and a half minutes, plus one lap, left to run, with da Costa and Vergne, among others, still needing to use Attack Mode for a second time.[49] They tactically decided to engage it just as the safety car came in, giving them a 25kW power advantage over second placed d'Ambrosio, who was simultaneously unable to either attack da Costa, or resist Vergne when the race did resume on lap 30.[49] Others to gain through a similar tactic included Evans, Lotterer, Abt, Nelson Piquet Jr., Sims, Massa, Vandoorne and Mortara, all gaining at least one position at the restart.[49]

Indeed, the biggest victim of the late race sprint proved to be Buemi, who had used his second and final Attack Mode engagement right at the start of the safety car period, believing it was more of a hindrance than a help in terms of energy consumption.[49] However, the majority of the field still had 20% of their battery reserve left for the final three laps of racing, and so Buemi was duly mugged by Evans and Lotterer at the restart, and was only able to keep from slipping down further when teammate Oliver Rowland drew onto the back of him.[49] Out front, meanwhile, da Costa and Vergne were pushing very hard, with the Portuguese ace having to use FanBoost to keep away from Vergne as they entered the final lap.[49]

It proved to be a stunning final lap, with Vergne throwing his Techeetah at the BMW at every opportunity, although da Costa did just enough to hold the lead, and get a good drive through turn seventeen and hence get a strong run down the back straight.[49] That did not dissuade Vergne from trying a move, however, with the Frenchman trying a desperate lunge on the brakes into the chicane, locking up all four wheels on the outside of da Costa, who calmly weaved his way through.[49] Vergne was left too far back to send a lunge into the final corner, turn 21, meaning it was da Costa who swept home to claim his first victory since the 2015 Buenos Aires ePrix, half a second ahead of the defending Champion.[49]

Four seconds behind them would come a very happy d'Ambrosio, who had simply cruised during the final laps after the restart knowing that he could not fight the two ahead while they deployed Attack Mode.[49] Evans was next, a second off the Belgian, having quietly sneaked through the field throughout the race, with Lotterer hot on his tail having set fastest lap on the penultimate tour.[49] Buemi and Rowland were next for Nissan with Abt on their tail, while Lucas di Grassi and Piquet had a particularly bruising battle for ninth on the final tour, the former emerging just ahead after the two literally barged against one-another through the chicane.[49]

ResultEdit

The final classification of the 2018 Ad Diriyah E-Prix is displayed below, with the fastest lap setter indicated in italics, and the pole sitter shown in bold:

2018 Ad Diriyah E-Prix Race Result
Pos. No. Name Team Laps Race Time Fastest lap Pts.
1st 28 Portugal António Félix da Costa FanBoosticon Germany BMW i Andretti Motorsport 33 0:46:29.377 1:13.265 28
2nd 25 France Jean-Éric Vergne People's Republic of China DS Techeetah 33 +0.462s 1:12.750 18
3rd 64 Flag of Belgium Jérôme d'Ambrosio Flag of India Mahindra Racing 33 +4.033s 1:13.830 15
4th 20 Flag of New Zealand Mitch Evans Flag of the United Kingdom Jaguar Racing 33 +5.383s 1:13.427 12
5th 36 Germany André Lotterer People's Republic of China DS Techeetah 33 +5.579s 1:12.591 11
6th 23 Switzerland Sébastien Buemi Flag of Japan Nissan e.Dams 33 +6.625s 1:13.397 8
7th 22 Flag of the United Kingdom Oliver Rowland Flag of Japan Nissan e.Dams 33 +9.105s 1:14.026 6
8th 66 Germany Daniel Abt FanBoosticon Germany Audi Sport ABT Schaeffler 33 +9.819s 1:14.301 4
9th 11 Brazil Lucas di Grassi FanBoosticon Germany Audi Sport ABT Schaeffler 33 +10.936s 1:13.914 2
10th 3 Brazil Nelson Piquet Jr. Flag of the United Kingdom Jaguar Racing 33 +11.564s 1:14.803 1
11th 2 Flag of the United Kingdom Sam Bird Flag of the United Kingdom Envision Virgin Racing 33 +11.747s 1:14.307
12th 4 Dutch Flag Robin Frijns Flag of the United Kingdom Envision Virgin Racing 33 +12.189s 1:13.735
13th 16 Flag of the United Kingdom Oliver Turvey Flag of the United Kingdom NIO Formula E Team 33 +13.104s 1:14.343
14th 8 France Tom Dillmann Flag of the United Kingdom NIO Formula E Team 33 +14.273s 1:13.205
15th 6 Germany Maximilian Günther Flag of the United States GEOX Dragon 33 +16.161s 1:14.018
16th 5 Flag of Belgium Stoffel Vandoorne FanBoosticon Germany HWA Racelab 33 +20.013s 1:14.850
17th* 19 Brazil Felipe Massa FanBoosticon Monaco Venturi Formula E Team 33 +43.610s 1:13.950
18th 27 Flag of the United Kingdom Alexander Sims Germany BMW i Andretti Motorsport 33 +47.712s 1:13.604
19th 48 Switzerland Edoardo Mortara Monaco Venturi Formula E Team 32 +1 Lap 1:14.547
Ret 7 Argentina José María López Flag of the United States GEOX Dragon 25 Suspension 1:14.306
Ret 17 Flag of the United Kingdom Gary Paffett Germany HWA Racelab 9 Retired 1:16.654
Ret 94 Flag of Sweden Felix Rosenqvist Flag of India Mahindra Racing 8 Retired 1:16.113
Source:[45]
  • FanBoosticon Indicates a driver was awarded FanBoost during the race.
  • * Massa handed a combined 30 second penalty for improper use of FanBoost.[45]

MilestonesEdit

StandingsEdit

Pole and victory at the season opening round ensured that it was António Félix da Costa who led the charge, leaving Ad Diriyah with a ten point advantage. Jean-Éric Vergne was second, three ahead of Jérôme d'Ambrosio, while Mitch Evans was a point ahead of fastest lap setter André Lotterer. Sébastien Buemi and Oliver Rowland were next ahead of Daniel Abt, while Brazilian rivals Lucas di Grassi and Nelson Piquet Jr. completed the early top ten.

In the Teams Championship it was DS Techeetah who led the way after the opening race, a point clear of the race winning BMW i Andretti Motorsport squad. It was then a comparatively huge thirteen point gap back to third placed Mahindra Racing, with Nissan e.Dams and Jaguar Racing glued to their tail. Reigning Champions Audi Sport ABT Schaeffler, meanwhile, would open their title defence in sixth as the last of the point scoring teams.

 
2018/19 Drivers Championship
Pos. Name Pts. +/-
1st Portugal António Félix da Costa 28 ◄0
2nd France Jean-Éric Vergne 18 ◄0
3rd Flag of Belgium Jérôme d'Ambrosio 15 ◄0
4th Flag of New Zealand Mitch Evans 12 ◄0
5th Germany André Lotterer 11 ◄0
6th Switzerland Sébastien Buemi 8 ◄0
7th Flag of the United Kingdom Oliver Rowland 6 ◄0
8th Germany Daniel Abt 4 ◄0
9th Brazil Lucas di Grassi 2 ◄0
10th Brazil Nelson Piquet Jr. 1 ◄0
2018/19 Teams Championship
Pos. Name Pts. +/-
1st People's Republic of China DS Techeetah 29 ◄0
2nd Germany BMW i Andretti Motorsport 28 ◄0
3rd Flag of India Mahindra Racing 15 ◄0
4th Flag of Japan Nissan e.Dams 14 ◄0
5th Flag of the United Kingdom Jaguar Racing 13 ◄0
6th Germany Audi Sport ABT Schaeffler 6 ◄0

Only point scoring drivers and teams are shown.

ReferencesEdit

Videos and Images:

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  48. Cite error: Invalid <ref> tag; no text was provided for refs named PQP
  49. Cite error: Invalid <ref> tag; no text was provided for refs named RH
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