DIRIYAH: Mercedes-EQ driver Nyck de Vries won the Formula E season-opening Diriyah E-Prix for a second year running ahead of team-mate Stoffel Vandoorne, who failed to capitalize on his pole position under the floodlights in Riyadh.
De Vries, who missed almost all of the opening practice sessions because of a crash, managed to pull off a recovery that led to an impressive victory on Friday, ensuring a strong start to season eight for both him and Mercedes as they defend their championship titles.
“The result might be the same (as last year’s opener) but the way we achieved it was very different,” said de Vries. “I’m glad we were able to capitalize on our qualifying position; the way we managed to win this race and start the season strong, we worked really well as a team.”
An attack mode error by Vandoorne allowed de Vries to race to victory in Diriyah, as he failed to activate it correctly after leading the race from pole. After dropping behind his teammate, the Belgian driver was unable to close the gap, then took his second activation at the same time as de Vries on the following lap, effectively giving away the win to his counterpart.
“I messed up on my second activation; there’s only myself to blame for that,” said the runner-up. “I basically handed the position to Nyck. I’m a little bit disappointed with the way I handled the attack mode, and not handling the loop correctly, but it’s still a positive start to the season.”
Jake Dennis secured third place for Avalanche Andretti, after passing Andre Lotterer.
“Everything that I imagined happened, happened,” said Dennis. “We pulled away from the pack; it was generally a clean race.”
Lotterer dropped back several places, eventually finishing 13th, after Dennis passed him on turn 18 with less than 10 minutes remaining in the race. Five additional minutes were added due to the deployment of the safety car, meaning energy usage became critical.
In his first race with Venturi, Lucas di Grassi moved past Sam Bird on the straight to take fifth place. Rookies Dan Ticktum and former Alfa Romeo Formula One driver Antonio Giovinazzi had difficult debuts, with the former finishing 18th and the latter the last to take the checkered flag.
The safety car was deployed after Mahindra Racing’s Oliver Rowland made contact with Envision Racing driver Robin Frijns on turn 17, a collision that sent Rowland’s car into the wall. It earned Frijns a drive-through penalty, while Rowland was awarded a three-place grid drop from tomorrow’s second race in Diriyah.
Season 6 Diriyah ePrix winner Antonio da Felix Costa was forced to pit and retire after the first lap.