At the Formula E season opener in Saudi Arabia, Mercedes driver Nyck de Vries and Edoardo Mortara from the Mercedes customer team Venturi snatched up the two trophies. A late safety car phase in the second race caused trouble.
Formula E got off to a successful start in its eighth season in Diriyah. There was already a lot of excitement on Friday (January 28) at the premiere of the new qualifying mode. After a group phase, the front starting positions are now being fought out in a shootout mode in a direct duel between two pilots. In the end, Stoffel Vandoorne prevailed against Jake Dennis in an exciting final and secured the first pole position of the year.
In the race, however, the Mercedes driver was unable to turn his good starting position into a win. Instead, his teammate Nyck de Vries grabbed the biggest trophy. The previous year's champion had already moved up from third place at the start to second position, past Dennis. The decision in the internal Silver Arrows duel then fell in the second half of the race.
Vandoorne missed the activation zone for the second Attack mode on the first try, falling behind his teammates. De Vries was then able to easily keep the sister car behind him to the finish and easily clinched the first win of the season. Behind him, Jake Dennis in the Andretti racer completed the podium.
For a long time it looked as if André Lotterer could also have a say in the awarding of the cup. In the early stages, the Porsche driver had meanwhile moved up to third place. But the player from Duisburg needed too much energy for his attack, which he had to save again in the end. Lotterer was finally passed down to 13th place. The other two Germans in the field, Pascal Wehrlein (11th) and Maximilian Günther (12th) just missed out on the points.
Mortara wins the second race
In the second race on Saturday, history seemed to repeat itself. Another Mercedes driver was on pole position. This time it was De Vries who narrowly defeated Edoardo Mortara in the decisive duel. Only five thousandths separated the factory Mercedes from the Venturi customer car.
But Mortara turned the tables in the race. The Swiss made clever use of his attack mode and uncompromisingly overtook several competitors on his way to victory. De Vries had won the start. But in the second half of the race things went backwards for the previous day's winner.
Because he waited too long to activate the second attack mode, De Vries was passed by several competitors. He was then unable to make up for the lost positions when he activated the extra power himself.When Jean-Eric Vergne pushed his way past de Vries with a touch, the world champion lost his step and was finally passed down to tenth place.
Behind Mortara, Robin Frijns and Lucas di Grassi secured the other podium places. After the disappointment of the day before, André Lotterer fought back with a strong fourth place. With Pascal Wehrlein in ninth place, the second Porsche driver also scored his first points. Günther, on the other hand, finished 14th in the second race for Nissan with nothing.
Trouble because of the safety car
A late safety car phase in the second race caused discussions. Alexander Sims slipped into the gang with his Mahindra shortly before the end. To secure the crane during recovery, the safety car stopped just before the scene of the accident, causing the field to collapse without warning. Rear-end collisions could only be avoided with luck. The race was not restarted after the neutralization.
Mortara took the lead in the drivers' standings after the first two races. With 33 points, the Venturi driver is just ahead of the Mercedes duo de Vries (29) and Vandoorne (28). The Venturi customer team (58) and the Mercedes works team (57) are also very close in the manufacturers' classification.