For the second straight day, Alex Sims won an ABB Formula E Championship pole. Unlike yesterday, though, he also scooped the bigger prize. Having faded from first to an eighth-place finish in Friday’s race, the British driver delivered a dominant performance to lead a 1-2 sweep for the BMW i Andretti Motorsport team in Saturday’s second half of the season-opening Diriyah E-Prix doubleheader.
Leading the way at the start with Nissan e.dams’ Sebastian Buemi in second and Audi Sport Abt Schaeffler’s Lucas di Grassi in third, Sims maintained his position up front while DS Techeetah’s Antonio Felix da Costa attacked from fifth. But in the process he made contact with Buemi’s car, sending him spinning into oncoming traffic. The Nissan driver rejoined the pack in 15th. The Techeetah driver was assessed a 10-second drive-through penalty for causing the incident with Buemi, while the Nissan driver was also handed the same punishment for his re-entry into the race that was deemed unsafe.
Race 1 winner Sam Bird, who had started seventh, was tapped by Panasonic Jaguar Racing’s Mitch Evans going through Turn 4, and then hit again by Mahindra Racing’s Pascal Wehrlein going through Turn 5, sending the British driver’s Envision Virgin Racing entry into the wall and out of the race. The incident led to a 10-second penalty to Evans for avoidable contact.
Worse soon followed for Envision Virgin as Bird’s teammate Robin Frijns lost control of his Audi-powered car between Turn 5 and 6, hitting the wall sideways in Turn 7. The yellow flag was raised while his Frijns’ car was recovered.
With eight minutes left on the clock, Sims maintained his lead while, further down the pack, Jaguar’s Evans was handed a 10-second drive through penalty for the collision with Bird.
Taking his Attack Mode, di Grassi temporarily lost a position before blasting back past Mercedes-Benz EQ’s Stoffel Vandoorne with his 35kW of extra power. Meanwhile, despite not taking the power boost, Sims’ teammate Max Guenther made his way around them both to put two BMWs out front in the closing minutes.
While Sims stretching his lead to over three seconds with five minutes left, Guenther defended hard against di Grassi, holding the Attack Mode-enabled Brazilian at bay. With the added power, the Audi driver set the fastest lap during his attack against the German. But it wasn’t enough: Both BMWs crossed the line in tandem as Sims clinched his first career Formula E win.
“That was pretty much a dream race! We executed everything really well and we made the right decisions at the right time,” related Sims. “Crossing that line was an amazing feeling. We keep learning so many lessons and there are many more to come in the near future. The team have put a lot of effort in and to deliver a win now… it’s really cool.”
“I knew it was going to be unpredictable, but I never thought of having a podium finish today,” admitted Guenther, who unlike his pole-sitting teammate had to carve his way iup from ninth at the start. “I’m extremely happy for achieving my first podium in Formula E and with BMW i Andretti Motorsport. Also a one-two for the team is a fantastic result and big congratulations to my teammate.”
The Formula E season now takes a couple months off before the next round on the streets of Santiago, Chile on January 18.