Mercedes dominates Formula E opener as de Vries wins in Diriyah

Andrew Ferraro/Motorsport Images

Mercedes dominates Formula E opener as de Vries wins in Diriyah

International Racing

Mercedes dominates Formula E opener as de Vries wins in Diriyah


Reigning champion Nyck de Vries started the new ABB FIA Formula E World Championship season in dominant fashion, winning today’s first race of the season at the Diriyah street course in Saudi Arabia.

De Vries took advantage of an uncharacteristic slip-up by Mercedes-EQ teammate Stoffel Vandoorne when the Belgian missed the Attack Mode power boost 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.

Jaguar 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, edging American rookie Oliver Askew, who’ll be happy with his first effort in the series and points on the board. 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 Vandoorne taking to it quickest and also claiming the Julius Baer Pole Position. After beating teammate de Vries in the semi final, Vandoorne saw off Avalanche Andretti’s Dennis in the final Duel on his way to sealing pole position.

“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,” related de Vries, still ruing a mistake in practice. “It put myself and the team on the back foot, 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 capitalize 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.”

Vandoorne admitted, “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.

“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.”

Round 2 from Diriyah airs live on CBS Sports Network beginning at 11:30 a.m. ET.