2018 Ad Diriyah ePrix

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2018 Ad Diriyah ePrix
Race 1 of 13 of the 2018–19 Formula E season
Diriyah Circuit Image.png
Race details
Date 15 December 2018 (2018-12-15)
Official name 2018 Saudia Ad Diriyah E-Prix
Location Riyadh Street Circuit, Ad Diriyah, Riyadh, Saudi Arabia
Course Street circuit
Course length 2.495 km (1.550 mi)
Distance 33 laps, 82.335 km (51.161 mi)
Weather Cloudy
Pole position
Driver Andretti-BMW
Time 1:17.728
Fastest lap
Driver Germany André Lotterer Techeetah-DS
Time 1:12.591 on lap 32
Podium
First Andretti-BMW
Second Techeetah-DS
Third Mahindra

The 2018 Ad Diriyah ePrix (formally the 2018 Saudia Ad Diriyah E-Prix) was a Formula E electric car race held at the Riyadh Street Circuit in the town of Diriyah, which is located north-west of the Saudi Arabian capital of Riyadh on 15 December 2018 before a crowd of about 23,000 spectators. It was the first round of the 2018–19 Formula E season, the inaugural edition of the event and the first Formula E race to occur in the Middle East. The 33-lap race was won by António Félix da Costa of the Andretti team from a pole position start. Techeetah driver Jean-Éric Vergne finished in second and Jérôme d'Ambrosio placed third for Mahindra.

The one day event was affected by heavy rain which flooded the track; as a result, the two scheduled practice sessions were cancelled and combined into a single 35 minute session. Qualifying was restructured into a half an hour two-group session that saw Félix da Costa claim the first pole position of his career. He held the lead for the opening 13 laps until Vergne passed him going into turn 18 on the 14th lap. As Vergne appeared set to take his first victory of the season, he incurred a drive-through penalty for exceeding the maximum amount of power permitted under electrical energy harvesting. He took the penalty in the pit lane and fell to fifth. He recovered through the field but he could not make a successful pass on Félix da Costa who claimed the second win of his career and BMW's first as a manufacturer in Formula E.

Because this was the first race of the season, Félix da Costa left Ad Diriyah as the Drivers' Championship leader with 28 points scored (25 for the win and three for the pole position). Vergne was ten points behind in second and d'Ambrosio was another three points adrift in third. Mitch Evans was fourth with 12 points and André Lotterer rounded out the top five drivers with 11 points after earning an extra point for setting the fastest lap. In the Teams' Championship, Techeetah led with 29 points, ahead of Andretti with one point less. Mahindra, e.Dams-Nissan and Jaguar were all one point behind each other in positions three to five with twelve races left in the season.

Background[edit]

Regulation changes[edit]

The Spark SRT05e (pictured in black and gold Techeetah livery at the 2018 Paris Motor Show) made its Formula E competition debut in the Ad Diriyah ePrix.

The race saw the introduction of a brand new chassis to replace the Spark-Renault SRT_01E that had been used since Formula E began in 2014.[1] The new car, the Spark SRT05e (or "Gen2"), eschews the conventional design of having a rear wing in favour of incorporating aerodynamic elements into the chassis and floor and features the halo for driver head protection. It was also designed to last the entire race due to a new McLaren Applied Technologies designed battery, eliminating the need for mid-race car switches.[2] Cars will have a series of pre-set power modes introduced to encourage strategic racing without allowing a team to gain a competitive advantage through powertrain development.[3] In a further regulation change, the maximum power permitted to be used by each driver during the race increased from 180 kW (240 hp) to 200 kW (270 hp) and up to 250 kW (340 hp) in practice and qualifying.[4]

Also, the championship introduced a system dubbed "attack mode" or "Mario Kart mode" in which drivers received an additional 25 kW (34 hp) of power by driving through a designated area of the circuit off the racing line.[1][4] The duration of the boost mode and the number of boosts available was decided in advance of a round by the sport's governing body, the Fédération Internationale de l'Automobile (FIA), to stop teams from anticipating its use and incorporating it into race strategy.[5] Furthermore, LED lights embedded into the halo illuminatde electric blue when a car enters attack mode and magenta when a driver deploys FanBoost to help television viewers and spectators follow the race easier.[5] In a final change to the regulations, races were no longer be run to a set number of laps. Rather, they lasted 45 minutes and completed an additional lap once the time limit expired.[4]

Driver changes[edit]

2008 Formula One World Championship runner-up Felipe Massa (pictured in 2017), one of five drivers to debut in Ad Diriyah.

Heading into the new season, three teams opted to keep the same line-up as they had in the previous season; however, several teams changed drivers. One of the main changes involved the début appearance of HWA Racelab with 2015 GP2 Series champion and former McLaren driver Stoffel Vandoorne and two-time Deutsche Tourenwagen Masters champion Gary Paffett. BMW entered Formula E as a manufacturer team with partner Andretti Autosport, employing its development driver Alexander Sims along with two-time Macau Grand Prix winner António Félix da Costa.[6] Nissan entered the series to replace its strategic partner Renault in their partnership with racing team DAMS, retaining Sébastien Buemi and employing FIA Formula 2 Championship driver Oliver Rowland to fill in for Nico Prost.[a][6][7]

2008 Formula One World Championship runner-up and 11-time Grand Prix victor Felipe Massa made his series début with Venturi, and he was partnered two-time Macau Grand Prix winner Edoardo Mortara; Massa took over from 2016 Formula V8 3.5 Series champion Tom Dillmann who in turn moved to NIO to replace the outgoing Luca Filippi.[6] After spending the 2017–18 season out of Formula E, Audi factory driver Robin Frijns joined Virgin to replace the departing Alex Lynn.[8] The final change involved Nick Heidfeld moving to a reserve role at Mahindra as the team signed Jérôme d'Ambrosio (his Dragon car was driven by Formula 2's Maximilian Günther) and 2015 Deutsche Tourenwagen Masters champion Pascal Wehrlein to be their drivers. However, Wehrlein was prohibited by his Mercedes-Benz contract to race for another team until 31 December 2018. Hence, Felix Rosenqvist drove in his final event before he switched to the IndyCar Series in 2019.[6] Defending series champion Jean-Éric Vergne stayed at DS Techeetah after his title-winning campaign and he was again joined by three-time 24 Hours of Le Mans winner André Lotterer.[6]

Preparations for the race[edit]

The first meeting to discus a potential Saudi Arabian Formula E race was held on 14 December 2017 with presentations and proposals discussed with series officials such as CEO Alejandro Agag.[9] On 17 May 2018, it was officially announced that the series was set to race its all-electric single seater racing cars in the kingdom's capital of Riyadh and in its Al Diriyah district.[10] A ten-year contract was signed twelve days beforehand by its General Sports Authority and the Saudi Arabian Motor Federation to be the series' season-opening round.[9][10] Saudi Arabian authorities were also granted permission to bar another Middle Eastern ePrix as part of its agreement with the championship.[9] It was officially confirmed as part of the 2018–19 season by the FIA World Motor Sport Council in October 2018 and took place on 15 December.[11] The race is part of the Saudi Vision 2030 plan that seeks to diversify Saudi Arabia's economy away from oil exports and into developing public service sectors.[12] Prior to the ePrix, the first in the Middle East, Riyadh hosted the 2018 Race of Champions, which former Formula One driver David Coulthard won.[13]

The layout of the 21-turn 2.847 km (1.769 mi) Riyadh Street Circuit was unveiled in a public ceremony at the Diriyah Governorate on 25 September.[14] The track's design, overseen by Samer Issa-El-Khour,[15] features a number of flowing corners and high-speed turns along with few 90-degree hand corners that is typical of Formula E street circuits.[14] The existing road network was upgraded to comply with FIA standards, with construction performed in close collaboration with UNESCO and the Diriyah Gate Development Authority to ensure that the area's heritage was conserved for future generations.[15] D'Ambrosio spoke of his belief that the track's sweeping corners would be the main objective to setting a fast lap time and that the race would be about electrical energy management, "This is definitely not a classic Formula E track that we have used before, especially all the way from turn 1 to turn 14 which will be a lot of part-throttle and high speed for Formula E.”[16]

Concerns about human rights[edit]

Following the initial announcement of its inauguration, the race was subject to criticism by Formula E members and outside observers in light of Saudi Arabia's human rights record regarding its treatment of women, minorities and migrant workers, its oil wealth and dependency, and other major geopolitical problems.[17][18] In response to these concerns, Agag revealed the Saudi Arabian authorities requested that women be allowed to participate in the weekend's racing activities and were granted dispensation to report on and be spectating the race, "We are happy to be part of that change and we see Formula E as a force for good and in this case is a very specific place under very specific circumstances, but we think Formula E can make a contribution also for good in that country by doing this.”[19]

After the assassination of The Washington Post columnist Jamal Khashoggi in the Consulate of Saudi Arabia in the Turkish capital of Istanbul in October 2018, Agag told the Associated Press that the Ad Diriyah ePrix would go ahead as scheduled but stated that Formula E would monitor the situation, "Referring to the incident, we obviously have no comment to make. At this moment there are no plans to change the Formula E calendar this season."[20]

Post-race test session[edit]

The first in-season test session of the 2018–19 campaign was scheduled to be held at the circuit the day after the ePrix. Teams were permitted six hours of running divided into two sessions and were allowed to field one or two cars. Teams were encouraged to field female drivers as part of an FIA Women in Motorsport initiative due to Saudi Arabia lifting its restriction on barring women from driving in the kingdom in June 2018.[21][22] Nine women tested:[23] Sauber test driver Tatiana Calderón, Italian F4 Championship participant Amna Al Qubaisi, Jaguar I-Pace eTrophy's Katherine Legge, 2015 British GT4 champion Jamie Chadwick, IndyCar Series racer Pippa Mann, BMW junior driver Beitske Visser, Supercars competitor Simona de Silvestro, former GP3 Series participant Carmen Jordá,[21][23] and GT racer Carrie Schreiner.[24][b]

Report[edit]

Shakedown[edit]

A half an hour shakedown session was held on Friday afternoon to allow teams to check the efficiency and reliability of their cars at reduced speed.[25] Sam Bird and Massa stopped during the session; although Bird continued, Massa pulled over to the side of the circuit to end his session early.[26] After shakedown, several drivers praised the circuit's challenge. Paffett explained that its elevation changes were greater than had been expected from pre-race simulations and Dillmann compared it to the Suzuka Circuit.[27] Additionally, Rosenqvist likened the track to the Circuito Cittadino dell'EUR, "Just surviving the track is going to be an achievement itself."[27] Félix da Costa opined that the most likely areas for overtaking manoeuvres on the narrow circuit away from turn 18 were the final turn and the first corner.[27]

However, concerns were raised about the attack mode activation zone that was positioned on the track's right-hand side leaving turn 17, which required drivers to take a tighter line than normal and reduce their speed on the racing line in order to enter the area and drive near the barrier.[28] Vergne spoke of his feeling that the zone was too close to the corner's exit,[28] while Jaguar's Mitch Evans argued that it should have been placed 50 m (160 ft) further along the track.[26] Dillmann argued that drivers could lose up to two seconds worth of time and that drivers would activate the system under safety car conditions. Félix da Costa said he felt the rate of speed within the racing line would be different and it was dangerous to him.[28] Despite the criticism, the FIA did not initially consider altering or moving the zone because of a perceived limit of alternative areas.[26]

Free practice[edit]

Stoffel Vandoorne (pictured in 2017) set the fastest lap time in the restructured practice session

Two practice sessions—both on Saturday morning—were scheduled to be held before the late afternoon race. The first session was scheduled to run for 45 minutes and the second was due to last half an hour.[25] Torrential rain fell in Riyadh overnight and returned when the first practice session was about to begin. Thus, the FIA delayed and then later cancelled first practice 20 minutes after its commencement because the conditions did not improve and track marshals had too much standing water to clear and pump away.[29] Particular water drainage problems emerged at turns eight, ten, eleven and seventeen due to the temporary erection of barriers, which created a lack of drainage and caused rivers to collate across the circuit due to the natural undulations in those areas.[30][31] To compensate for the loss of on-track driving,[32] the FIA planned for the second practice session to last for an hour from 08:35 to 09:35 Arabia Standard Time (UTC+03:00) rather than the scheduled half an hour to provide drivers with an opportunity for track familiarisation before qualifying.[33]

However, heavy rain continued to fall and the FIA delayed second practice before it was cancelled 25 minutes after its planned start because the clearing of deep standing water areas with course vehicles capable of pumping water failed to improve track conditions.[34] Bird accompanied FIA race director Scot Elkins in a course car to for a reconnaissance lap and a track inspection.[35] When the two returned to the pit lane, several drivers, including Vergne, Lucas di Grassi of Audi and Buemi congregated there to discuss the situation and its impact on the race.[34] Vergne proposed a hybrid-practice session where competitors would simultaneously set lap times with the maximum amount of available power reduced from 250 kW (340 hp) to determine the starting order. Other drivers supported Vergne's proposal because of a lack of preparation in the changeable conditions.[34][35] It was also suggested that the Jaguar I-Pace eTrophy cars circulate the track to dry it because of the sport utility vehicle's increased ride height compared to Formula E machinery.[35]

A 35 minute practice period was held and it was followed shortly after by a two-group qualifying session. The majority of the competitors remained in the garage bar Vergne who ventured outside to observe the weather conditions.[36] Drivers then spent five minutes (three laps) at reduced speed behind the safety car to gather knowledge on how the Spark SRT05e handled on a saturated circuit before green flag running commenced.[37][38][39] Frijns set a benchmark lap,[37] before a 17 minute red flag was necessitated as Mortara had a brake-by-wire problem and crashed into the turn one TecPro barrier.[31][40] The session resumed with ten minutes to go and lap times lowered.[40] Vergne, Bird, Rowland and Evans all led but Vandoorne set the fastest overall lap at 1 minute and 18.868 seconds, followed by Bird, Buemi, Rowland, Evans, Vergne, Sims, Félix da Costa, Günther and Audi's Daniel Abt.[37] With more than a minute left, Rosenqvist made an error and hit the turn one wall at low speed with damage to his car's nose cone. Massa drove straight to avoid colliding with him. One of Rosenqvist's wheel arches detached on the main straight linking turns 17 and 18 while driving back to the pit lane.[37][40]

Qualifying[edit]

José María López (pictured in 2014) started on the front row of the grid after the application of penalties.

Saturday morning's half an hour qualifying session was divided into two groups of eleven cars rather than the customary four of either five or six. Each group was permitted 15 minutes of on-track activity and all drivers were limited to a single timed lap at 250 kW (340 hp). The starting order was determined by the combined fastest overall lap times from both groups.[35][37] The driver and team who recorded the pole position lap time were awarded three points towards their respective championships.[25] Félix da Costa took the first pole position of his career with a 1 minute and 17.728 seconds lap.[c][42] Dillmann was the first driver to circulate the track;[43] he spent the first ten minutes recording multiple lap times at 200 kW (270 hp) of power and set the second-fastest time. He was investigated for completing more qualifying laps than permitted due to the amended schedule confusing his team.[44][41] Dragon's José María López was the second driver to record a lap time with five minutes left of group one but he could not better Dillmann's effort and was in provisional third.[45][46] Buemi took fourth and Vandoorne was the sole group two to qualify with the top ten and he was highest-placed rookie in fifth.[42] Bird was sixth.[47] Vergne complained of car problems and recorded the seventh-quickest lap.[42] Frijns, d'Ambrosio and Lotterer completed the top ten provisional qualifiers with Lotterer one and a half seconds slower than Félix da Costa.[47]

Di Grassi was the fastest driver not to set a top ten qualifying time; his best lap of 1 minute and 19.527 seconds was almost 1.8 seconds off Félix da Costa's pace,[44] and described his car as "undriveable".[42] Evans was the faster of the two Jaguars in 12th.[44] 13th-placed Rowland was an early pace setter of the second group but he made minor contact with the turn one barrier during his maximum power lap,[45][48] and Oliver Turvey of NIO was 14th-quickest.[45] Paffett could only manage to set the 15th-fastest lap time because of an driver error on his best lap.[42][45] Following him on the provisional starting grid were Mortara, Sims, Abt, Massa and Nelson Piquet Jr. in the second Jaguar.[47] 21st-place qualifier Günther scraped the barrier lining the track with the left-front of his car and qualifying was stopped with four minutes left in the second group after he stopped at turn seven and had to be extricated by a recovery vehicle.[43][45][46] Rosenqvist was slowest overall because he lost control of his car and made contact with the outside barrier at the edge of turn 21 at high speed.[45][47] With Rosenqvist stranded, a track marshal created confusion by waving a red flag but race control did not officially issue its deployment.[41][45]

Post-qualifying[edit]

Following deliberation in the pre-race driver meeting, the attack mode activation zone was moved 23 m (75 ft) closer to the start line and painted white lines indicating the beginning and exit points of the zone were enlargened to improve visibility.[49] Seven drivers received grid penalties after qualifying: Dillmann had all of his qualifying laps invalidated because he exceeded amount of permitted number of laps and his car lacked a data logger sensor.[48] His teammate Turvey also had all of his timed laps cancelled for having no data logger sensor.[49] The two Virgin teammates of Frijns and Bird along with di Grassi and Rowland had all of their fastest qualifying times deleted for exceeding 250 kW (340 hp) due to a power overshoot from hitting a trackside bump.[48][49] Mortara was issued a three-place grid penalty because Venturi had transgressed Formula E's 2018–19 season battery software implementation guide.[48] Hence, the grid lined up after penalties as Félix da Costa, López, Buemi, Vandoorne, Vergne, d'Ambrosio, Lotterer, Evans, Paffett, Sims, Abt, Massa, Mortara, Rowland, Piquet, Günther, Rosenqvist, di Grassi, Bird, Frijns, Turvey and Dillmann.[50]

Race[edit]

The race began before a crowd of about 23,000 people at 15:05 local time.[18][51] Weather conditions at the start were dry and clear with the track slippery and damp but drying.[52] The air temperature was between 17.60 and 17.95 °C (63.68 and 64.31 °F) and the track temperature ranged from 21.1 and 21.7 °C (70.0 and 71.1 °F);[50] forecasts indicated a 20 percent chance of rain.[51] Each driver was mandated to use the attack mode twice during the ePrix and were permitted to arm the system no more than five times.[49] A special feature of Formula E is the "Fan Boost" feature, an additional 25 kW (34 hp) power to use during the race's second half. The five drivers who were allowed to use the boost were determined by a fan vote.[25] For the Ad Diriyah ePrix, Félix da Costa, Vandoorne, Massa, Abt and di Grassi were handed the extra power.[53] Before the lights went on for the start, Félix da Costa overshot his starting slot because he looked in the incorrect position.[52][54] He reversed to ensure that he was in the correct position but he was skewed at an angle towards the left-hand side barrier and risked locking his rear tires.[55][56][57] Nevertheless, Félix da Costa held the lead on the approach to the first turn as López made a poor start and was overtaken on the outside by Buemi.[55][57]

Vandoorne was passed by Vergne for fourth as Rowland appeared to jump the start but he was not investigated.[56][58] While the majority of the field avoided a first lap incident,[54] Mortara locked his brakes and crashed straight into the turn one outside TecPro barrier as the rest of the pack passed by.[55][57][59] He reversed to complete almost an entire lap and went into the pit lane for a replacement front wing.[54][59] This created confusion with track marshals at the turn who felt a full course fellow flag was necessary to recover Mortara's car but they later discovered that the procedure was not officially activated as Mortara had left the area. It came as Lotterer steered to the outside line to pass d'Ambrosio for sixth entering turn 18. But, d'Ambrosio made contact with the rear of Lotterer's car but the damage to it was minimal. That prompted to Massa to pass both Paffett and Abt around the outside on the entry to the final turn to move into tenth. Further back, Abt then overtook Paffett to advance into 11th and Günther was passed by the Virgin duo of Bird and Frijns and fell to 17th. Piquet got ahead of Paffett for 13th on the straight entering turn 18 on lap two as Vandoorne fell to seventh when Lotterer and d'Ambrosio overtook him.[60]

Jean-Éric Vergne (pictured in 2016) lost his chance of the victory after incurring a drive-through penalty for overusing electrical power.

On lap three, Vergne pressured López for third and tried to pass him into turn 18 but López turned right to block him.[60] He did succeed on the next lap and Lotterer also got ahead of López to move into fourth soon after.[50][54] Both Techeetahs battled for third as Félix da Costa opened up a two second advantage over Buemi. It concluded when Lotterer ran wide on the inside line through turn 17 on the sixth lap. He then held off López on the outside entering the next corner. Doing this meant López fell into d'Ambrosio's clutches but was not close enough to affect a pass.[60] In the meantime, Turvey and his teammate Dillmann used the attack mode in an attempt to advance through the field with 34 minutes to go.[59] On his eighth lap, Rosenqvist retired with a rear transmission failure.[30] During the following lap, Buemi was out-braked by Vergne on the outside at turn 18 for second.[57] An driving error from Paffett put him off the racing line between turns eight and nine and he collided with the barrier and retired on lap ten.[61] On lap 11, Massa got past Vandoorne on the inside line and moved into ninth.[59]

As Vergne began to draw closer to Félix da Costa, Lotterer went to the inside to pass Buemi for third at turn 18 on the next lap.[57] Vergne moved to within passing distance of Félix da Costa on the 13th lap and he almost took first place when the latter ran wide at turn 17 but waited for another lap.[60] The two ran close by each other through lap 14 until Vergne made a pass on the defensive Félix da Costa around the outside of turn 18 for the lead.[57] On lap 17, Abt used the attack mode to try a pass on Rowland but the latter kept tenth by driving into the corner's run-off area. Buemi held off López's attack on the following lap on the outside for fourth entering turn 18 and he then stopped d'Ambrosio from passing. That prompted López to be more aggressive on the outside at the same turn on lap 19 and passed Buemi that time round. Buemi ran wide leaving the next corner and allowed d'Ambrosio through into fifth.[60] Lotterer used the attack mode to get ahead of Félix da Costa on the straight linking the final and first turns to advance into second at the start of the 22nd lap.[57][59]

At this point, it appeared that Vergne would win and that Techeetah would finish 1–2, but Vergne and his teammate Lotterer incurred separate drive-through penalties for exceeding the maximum amount power permitted during electrical energy harvesting because of a software problem that used more electrical energy beyond the level defined in the FIA suppliers' implementation guide, a transgression of Article 27.9 of Formula E's sporting regulations.[52] This eroded Vergne's 2.7 second lead and he fell to fifth and Lotterer dropped to seventh and lost 20 seconds of time.[52][56][62] Hence, Félix da Costa retook the lead with López second and d'Ambrosio third. Massa and Sims were also issued drive-through penalties for the same infraction as the Techeetahs. On lap 24, López failed to earn the extra amount of power by missing the attack zone and lost second to d'Ambrosio. He tried again on the next lap and missed the attack zone for a second time.[57] López fell to fifth, behind Buemi and Vergne.[57] He damaged his rear suspension which left him fighting for control of his car until its rear-left wishbone collapsed on a kerb.[55][56][63] López retired at the exit to turn 14.[59]

António Félix da Costa (pictured in 2013) took the second victory of his career and his first since the 2015 Buenos Aires ePrix.

Elkins deployed a brief full course yellow flag and later the safety car to allow López's car to be extricated by a recovery vehicle but he had considered using a system that would have had the field close up to the leader.[30][55][56] Félix da Costa immediately activated his first attack mode as the safety car circulated the track for three laps (five minutes).[55][57] Shortly before racing continued for a four-lap sprint after the safety car's withdrawal, nine drivers, including Félix da Costa and Vergne, strategically used the attack mode for a second time.[52][59][62] The disruption to proceedings allowed all to drive at full speed until the end but some opined that the event was not limited by electrical energy in all circumstances.[52] Félix da Costa led d'Ambrosio and Vergne at the lap 30 restart. That lap, Vergne passed d'Ambrosio on the main straight to move into second.[57] Buemi had less usable electrical energy and lost sixth to Evans and Lotterer on laps 30 and 31.[60] On the 32nd lap, Félix da Costa used his FanBoost to increase his lead over Vergne.[57] During the lap, Piquet ran into the left-hand quarter of di Grassi's car as the former got ahead of him for ninth on the approach to turn 18.[60] Lotterer earned one championship point for setting the fastest lap on lap 32, a 1 minute and 12.591 seconds.[50]

Félix da Costa led Vergne by 1.507 seconds at the start of the final lap but the latter narrowed the margin to hand himself an opportunity for a last-lap pass to claim the victory.[52] Although Félix da Costa achieved a good exit out of turn 17, it did not dissuade Vergne from an unsuccessful out-braking manoeuvre that saw him lock his brakes.[60] Thus, Félix da Costa held the lead for the final three corners to claim his second career victory, his first since the 2015 Buenos Aires ePrix and BMW's maiden Formula E win by 0.462 seconds over Vergne.[62][64] D'Ambrosio finished third despite nursing diffuser damage from his earlier contact with Lotterer.[30] Evans took fourth, Lotterer fifth, and the Nissans of Buemi and Rowland were sixth and seventh. The Audi duo of Abt and di Grassi took eighth and ninth and Piquet completed the top ten.[52] The last of the classified finishers were the Virgin duo of Bird and Frijns, NIO teammates Turvey and Dillmann, Günther, Vandoorne,[50] Massa (who received two-post race penalties for using his FanBoost earlier than allowed and for using 150 kW (200 hp) of energy rather than 100 kW (130 hp) while on FanBoost and incurred one e-licence penalty point),[65] Sims and Mortara.[50] The attrition rate was low, with 19 of the 22 starters finishing the race.[62]

Post-race[edit]

"I was far from giving up - I'm a fighter, after all. But it's hard - I'm also a winner and I hate to lose. To finally do it today, is just amazing... the DAC is back!"

António Félix da Costa talking about his performance in the previous three seasons after the event.[66]

The top three drivers appeared on the podium to collect their trophies and spoke to the media in a later press conference. Félix da Costa spoke of his happiness over his win and called it "a perfect start" to the season, "When I crossed the line I was happy obviously but I was just assimilating everything. It was when I saw everyone’s faces and felt all the emotion from the rest of the guys that it all really came to me."[64] Vergne said his second-place result was "a taster of what is to come from Techeetah" and aimed for more podium results and his first win of the season, "I’m confident that we will continue to deliver some very exciting racing for the rest of the championship. We’re going to absorb all the lessons, continue in this spirit and come back for more."[67] D'Ambrosio said of his third-place finish, "I come also from two difficult years so it’s great to start this new relationship with the team in this way. We’ve worked really hard over the past few months to be ready and I think we were really fast and good in race pace. I’m really happy to be a part of such a great team – there are loads of great people and a great atmosphere."[68]

After retiring from a suspension failure, López spoke of his belief that he lost the chance to finish on the podium, but he hoped to maintain his pace at the season's next race in Marrakesh, "If we keep it, we’re going to be fighting the next race, so I really hope so. I know that we’re privateers, the outsiders but the truth today is that we were competitive. There were many positives today and we take more confidence now going in to Marrakesh."[63] Evans had mixed feelings over coming fourth but said he had a considered approach, which enabled him to compete in the top five with drivers such as Buemi, d'Ambrosio and López, "It was a strong race and a good one especially after the bad luck in quali. A bucket-load of points is a good start and we’ll take that at this early stage but to be so close to the podium is a little bittersweet."[69] Buemi stated that he was disappointed with his sixth-place result because of a lack of speed after running in second early on, "I could not fight the [Techeetahs]. I just did the best I could to lose the least amount of time but I was not in their league to be honest."[70]

Daniel Abt (pictured in 2015) argued that the attack mode concept should have its power increased to allow for more effective overtaking

Media reception to the race was mixed. Writing for The Guardian, Richard Williams said the race demonstrated that Formula E did not need to follow Formula One's example of the heavy imposition of penalties as it tried to showcase it was different from internal combustion motor racing. He was however complimentary of the driving on the circuit, "although it was an entertaining spectacle, the rules farrago towards the end was the last thing the formula needs".[71] Journalist Maurice Hamilton of ESPN wrote that the ePrix reminded him of Hans Christian Andersen's The Emperor's New Clothes in that it had "a similar impression of delusion appeared to infiltrate enthusiastic media and TV summaries referring to a 'brilliant race'" and that it did little to arouse deep emotion because the circuit appeared to him as "weaving through a building site thanks to the impression of high screens blanking off construction work".[72]

Views on the attack mode were mixed. Abt argued that the attack mode was like "a lose mode" because he lost a position activating it and proposed that its power be increased to allow for a more effective pass on other drivers. His teammate di Grassi concurred and said he believed there were less strategic possibilities with it.[73] Bird however opined that the system should lose drivers around six to eight seconds for better on-track action, "A bit like the joker lap in Rallycross - same sort of concept, only you lose six-eight seconds but you've got more power for the next three laps. Something like that would be cool."[73] Evans said his belief the system was effective but he also wanted a good balance of losing and gaining time.[74] Audi team principal Allan McNish considered the attack mode to have offered up unpredictability, "That's never a bad thing because I do believe that overtaking is a skillset a driver needs to have and so therefore we saw some guys doing some pretty strong overtaking manoeuvres."[75] Günther said he felt it was a helpful system for passing and close racing.[76]

Because this was the first race of the season, Félix da Costa led the Drivers' Championship with 28 points (25 for his win and the three points for earning the pole position). Vergne was ten points behind him in second and d'Ambrosio was a further three points adrift in third. Evans was fourth with 12 points and Lotterer rounded out the top five with 11 points.[77] In the Teams' Championship, Techeetah became the leader with 29 points picked up from Vergne's and Lotterer's finishing results of second and fifth. Andretti followed in second with 28 points. Mahindra, e.Dams-Nissan and Jaguar made up positions three to five with a point apiece with twelve races left in the season.[77]

Classification[edit]

Qualifying[edit]

Pos. No. Driver Team Time Gap Grid
1 28 Portugal António Félix da Costa Andretti-BMW 1:17.728 1
2 8 France Tom Dillmann NIO 1:17.893 +0.165 221
3 7 Argentina José María López Dragon-Penske 1:18.113 +0.385 2
4 23 Switzerland Sébastien Buemi e.dams-Nissan 1:18.269 +0.541 3
5 5 Belgium Stoffel Vandoorne HWA-Venturi 1:18.490 +0.762 4
6 2 United Kingdom Sam Bird Virgin-Audi 1:18.511 +0.783 192
7 25 France Jean-Éric Vergne Techeetah-DS 1:18.571 +0.843 5
8 4 Netherlands Robin Frijns Virgin-Audi 1:19.036 +1.308 202
9 64 Belgium Jérôme d'Ambrosio Mahindra 1:19.077 +1.349 6
10 36 Germany André Lotterer Techeetah-DS 1:19.317 +1.589 7
11 11 Brazil Lucas di Grassi Audi 1:19.527 +1.799 182
12 20 New Zealand Mitch Evans Jaguar 1:19.712 +1.984 8
13 22 United Kingdom Oliver Rowland e.dams-Nissan 1:19.755 +2.027 142
14 16 United Kingdom Oliver Turvey NIO 1:19.912 +2.184 213
15 17 United Kingdom Gary Paffett HWA-Venturi 1:19.929 +2.201 9
16 48 Switzerland Edoardo Mortara Venturi 1:20.330 +2.602 134
17 27 United Kingdom Alexander Sims Andretti-BMW 1:20.367 +2.639 10
18 66 Germany Daniel Abt Audi 1:20.385 +2.657 11
19 19 Brazil Felipe Massa Venturi 1:20.407 +2.679 12
20 3 Brazil Nelson Piquet Jr. Jaguar 1:21.489 +3.761 15
21 6 Germany Maximilian Günther Dragon-Penske 1:21.883 +4.155 16
22 94 Sweden Felix Rosenqvist Mahindra 1:23.037 +5.309 17
Source:[50]
Notes

Race[edit]

Pos. No. Driver Team Laps Time/Retired Grid Points
1 28 Portugal António Félix da Costa Andretti-BMW 33 46:29.377 1 285
2 25 France Jean-Éric Vergne Techeetah-DS 33 +0.462 5 18
3 64 Belgium Jérôme d'Ambrosio Mahindra 33 +4.033 6 15
4 20 New Zealand Mitch Evans Jaguar 33 +5.383 8 12
5 36 Germany André Lotterer Techeetah-DS 33 +5.579 7 116
6 23 Switzerland Sébastien Buemi e.dams-Nissan 33 +6.625 3 8
7 22 United Kingdom Oliver Rowland e.dams-Nissan 33 +9.105 14 6
8 66 Germany Daniel Abt Audi 33 +9.819 11 4
9 11 Brazil Lucas di Grassi Audi 33 +10.936 18 2
10 3 Brazil Nelson Piquet Jr. Jaguar 33 +11.564 15 1
11 2 United Kingdom Sam Bird Virgin-Audi 33 +11.747 19
12 4 Netherlands Robin Frijns Virgin-Audi 33 +12.189 20
13 16 United Kingdom Oliver Turvey NIO 33 +13.104 21
14 8 France Tom Dillmann NIO 33 +14.273 22
15 6 Germany Maximilian Günther Dragon-Penske 33 +16.161 16
16 5 Belgium Stoffel Vandoorne HWA-Venturi 33 +20.013 4
17 19 Brazil Felipe Massa Venturi 33 +43.610 127
18 27 United Kingdom Alexander Sims Andretti-BMW 33 +47.412 10
19 48 Switzerland Edoardo Mortara Venturi 32 +1 Lap 13
Ret 7 Argentina José María López Dragon-Penske 25 Suspension 2
Ret 17 United Kingdom Gary Paffett HWA-Venturi 9 Accident 9
Ret 94 Sweden Felix Rosenqvist Mahindra 8 Driveshaft 17
Source:[50]
Notes
  • ^5  — Three points for pole position.[25]
  • ^6  — One point for fastest lap.[25]
  • ^7  — Felipe Massa was twice penalised half a minute for using FanBoost earlier than allowed and for using the system with 150 kW (200 hp) of energy rather than 100 kW (130 hp).[65]

Standings after the race[edit]

  • Notes: Only the top five positions are included for both sets of standings.

Notes and references[edit]

Notes[edit]

  1. ^ Formula 2 driver Alexander Albon had originally signed a three-year contract to partner Sebastien Buemi but he later went to drive for Toro Rosso in the 2019 Formula One World Championship.[6]
  2. ^ Schreiner replaced FIA Formula 3 European Championship driver Sophia Flörsch who fractured her spine in an heavy accident during the 2018 Macau Grand Prix.[24]
  3. ^ Félix da Costa was fastest in qualifying for the 2016 Long Beach ePrix but his pole position lap was nullified because of a tyre irregularity.[41]

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Previous race:
2018 New York City ePrix
FIA Formula E Championship
2018–19 season
Next race:
2019 Marrakesh ePrix
Previous race:
N/A
Ad Diriyah ePrix Next race:
TBD