Nyck de Vries wins first race of the season in dominant Mercedes-EQ display
Stoffel Vandoorne takes first Julius Baer Pole Position trophy in new Formula E qualifying
Reigning World Champion Nyck de Vries started the new ABB FIA Formula E World Championship season in dominant fashion after winning the first race of the season at the Diriyah UNESCO World Heritage Site.
De Vries took advantage of an uncharacteristic slip-up by Mercedes-EQ teammate Stoffel Vandoorne when the Belgian missed the ATTACK MODE activation line. The pair and Mercedes-EQ were superior from then on, winding up eight seconds clear of third place Avalanche Andretti’s Jake Dennis.
TCS Racing’s Sam Bird crossed the line a fighting fourth, with TAG Heuer Porsche Formula E’s Andre Lotterer looking strong early on – particularly in a feisty duel with Dennis – but eventually slipped down from a provisional podium position as his usable energy became ever more marginal as the race drew on.
Lucas di Grassi finished fifth on debut for ROKiT Venturi Racing just ahead of teammate Edoardo Mortara and Nick Cassidy – the Envision Racing man also taking the point for TAG Heuer Fastest Lap.
DS TECHEETAH’s Jean-Eric Vergne followed in eighth, pipping rookie Oliver Askew who’ll be happy with his first effort in the series and points on the board – no mean feat. Jaguar’s Mitch Evans rounded out the points-paying positions.
Formula E’s new knockout Duel qualifying format delivered a new challenge for all drivers with Stoffel Vandoorne taking to it quickest and also claiming the Julius Baer Pole Position. After beating teammate and race winner Nyck de Vries in the semi final, Vandoorne saw off Avalanche Andretti’s Jake Dennis in the final Duel on his way to sealing pole position.
Nyck de Vries, Mercedes-EQ Formula E Team, #17, said: “The result might be the same, but the way we achieved it felt very different – obviously starting with yesterday tapping the wall in lap one didn’t help. It put myself and the team on the backfoot, then you have to rebuild your confidence and the conditions were very slippery, very different to last year. There is always a lot of track evolution, so you have to build it up in FP2 and then straight into qualifying. So I was actually very happy with what we achieved in qualifying, and then I knew we had a strong race car to capitalise on our qualifying position. We had great pace, the team did a great job and I was a bit fortunate with Stoff missing his ATTACK MODE, but at the end of the day it was faultless from our garage and we managed to win the first race. I am very pleased with the way we managed to win this race and start the season strong.”
Stoffel Vandoorne, Mercedes-EQ Formula E Team, #5, said: “I’m a little bit disappointed, I think it’s not bad to be disappointed with the second place today. I was leading the race, everything was under control, we had really strong pace in the car today – but then I missed the loop on the second attack activation which handed the position to Nyck. We were pushing each other, cruising away from the others and had a one-two finish for the team. It’s been a great team result. I can’t be disappointed, qualifying on pole in the first new qualifying format – to finish second today is a good one and we have another opportunity tomorrow. You can never have relief in Formula E. The nature of the Championship is so close that the moment you give up a bit of performance, someone else is going to be there. It is not a guarantee that we win today we win tomorrow, but we are going to try and do everything to repeat the performance in qualifying, and from my side do a bit better in the race.”
Jake Dennis, Avalanche Andretti, #27, said: “I felt quite comfortable behind the Mercedes, I think we were on the same strategy, things were looking quite good, but when the top four breakaway it isn’t the best being in third as it allows the car behind to have free attack zones. André (Lotterer) undercutting us ruined our race a bit, but I wanted a podium so bad today – we deserved it as a team. We tried it the first time, completely got it wrong, but the second time I learned from my mistakes and put it right, got the overtake done and then we pulled clear and tried to close down the Mercedes, but they were a little too quick in the end. We had a great race.”