DIRIYAH, Riyadh: Alexander Sims of BMW i Andretti Motorsport won the second round of the ABB Formula E Championship in the Diriyah E-Prix on Saturday, holding off the challenge of teammate Maximilian Gunther, who originally claimed second spot, and third-placed Lucas di Grassi of Audi.
In an incident-packed race at the Diriyah Circuit, Friday’s first-round winner Sam Bird crashed out midway through proceedings and the safety car was deployed twice.
After taking pole position in the qualifying session earlier on Saturday, Sims led all the way to claim his first Formula E victory.
The victory puts the British driver on top of the championship standings with 33 points after the two rounds in Saudi Arabia.
“That was pretty much a dream race. Crossing the line was an amazing feeling — there are so many lessons we’ve learnt,” Sims said of his victory.
“We seemed to execute everything really well. Right decisions at the right times. Energy consumption was good. It all went smoothly today.
“I’ve been doing this for 20 years, so it’s not something that you get too pent up about. You have to keep doing your job and get rid of any distractions that creep into your head,” he added.
Sims’ teammate Gunther crossed the line in second place, but was under investigation immediately after the race for overtaking two rivals under the safety car. The 22-year-old German was stripped of his podium place after a ruling that he had gained position before the control line at the restart of the first safety car.
The penalty meant Di Grassi’s gritty performance was rewarded with a second spot, while Stoffel Vandoorne, who had a good race in a solid weekend for Mercedes, was given third place.
The manufacturer is one of two German teams making their debut in Formula E this season, with Porsche joining the fold for the 2019-2020 season.
It was another disappointing day for reigning champion Jean-Eric Vergne in the Techeetah car, who finished outside the points in 8th place, following a miserable first round on Friday.
The Frenchman was forced to start at the back of the grid after he received a 20-place grid penalty for hitting a wall during the practice session, which meant his battery had to be replaced — a breach of FIA rules.
The SAUDIA Diriyah E-Prix heralded the start of season six of the ABB FIA Formula E Championship and made motorsport history as the biggest-ever field of cars and drivers assembled at the Diriyah Circuit.
Also on Friday, having made history as the first Saudi female to drive competitively in the Kingdom, Reema Juffali was back behind the wheel of her Jaguar for the second day of I-PACE eTROPHY action, along with Team Saudi drivers Fahad Algosaibi and Mashhur Bal Hejaila.
Algosaibi managed a podium finish in the Pro-Am category in the first race, but on day two there was drama as he crashed into the wall and out of the race. Instead it was Bal Hejaila’s turn to climb the Pro-Am podium in third.