Race Reviews

Sims hits back in race 2 in Saudi Arabia

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Sims clinches his maiden win from Pole in fraught Saudi showdown. Guenther follows to make BMW one-two win with Audi’s di Grassi finishing third.  

27 SIMS Alexander (gbr), Spark-BMW BMW iFE.20, BMW i Andretti Motorsport, action 23 BUEMI Sebastien (che), Spark-Nissan Nissan IM02, Nissan e-Dams, action start race 2 during the 2020 Formula E championship, at Riyad, Saudi Arabia, from november 22 to 24, 2019 – Photo Gregory Lenormand / DPPI

With the lights out, it was Poleman BMW i Andretti Motorsport’s Alex Sims who pulled away in the lead after securing his second Pole in a row on day two of the 2019 SAUDIA Diriyah E-Prix.

Leading the way with Nissan e.dams’ Sebastian Buemi in second and Audi Sport Abt Schaeffler’s Lucas di Grassi in third, the British driver maintained his position up front while DS Techeetah’s Antonio Felix da Costa – who moved into fourth after Mahindra Racing’s Jerome d’Ambrosio retired from the race due to technical difficulties – was on the attack. 

Making his way through the pack, da Costa was eager to make the podium, attacking Buemi and nudging the back of his car while sending him spinning into oncoming traffic. The Nissan driver rejoined the pack in 15th but came under investigation by the FIA. 

With more than 30 minutes left on the clock, Bird was tapped by Panasonic Jaguar Racing’s Mitch Evans going through Turn 4, before being tapped again by Mahindra Racing’s Pascal Wehrlein going through Turn 5. The British driver – who clinched the win in the first race only a day before – met with the wall. With significant damage to his car, the Brit was out of the race. 

After consideration by the FIA, Da Costa was handed 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. 

02 BIRD Sam (gbr), Spark-Audi e-tron FE06, Envision Virgin Racing, action during the 2020 Formula E championship, at Riyad, Saudi Arabia, from november 22 to 24, 2019 – Photo Gregory Lenormand / DPPI

While his teammate was already out of the race, fellow Envision driver Robin Frijns lost control of his Audi-powered car between Turn 5 and 6, hitting the wall sideways on Turn 7. Damaged and stranded in his car, the Yellow Flag was raised while his 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 in third temporarily lost a position before blasting back past Mercedes-Benz EQ’s Stoffel Vandoorne with 35kW of extra power. Not taking the ATTACK MODE, Sims’ teammate Max Guenther slipped into second as the two BMW’s led the way with only minutes left on the clock.   

Stretching the lead to over three seconds with five minutes left on the clock, 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 on the attack against the German. 

With both BMWs crossing the line in tandem, the Sims clinched his first ever race win in the ABB FIA Formula E Championship with his teammate in second and Audi’s di Grassi in third. 

Following a chaotic season opener in Saudi Arabia, BMW i Andretti Motorsport’s Max Guenther lost his podium finish after the FIA found him in breach of the regulations for overtaking Audi Sport ABT Schaeffler’s Lucas di Grassi while the BMW i Safety Car was out. 

After a fraught race, which saw Guenther’s teammate Alex Sims dominate the race from Pole to finish, the German driver took second place in front of di Grassi – what would have been his maiden podium in Formula E. 

Coming under investigation after the race, the 22 year-old driver was handed a 24 second time penalty, which relegated him down the order. Moving up to the podium was Mercedes’ Stoffel Vandoorne, who clinched his second podium of the race weekend, rounding off a sensational debut performance for new manufacturer works squad Mercedes-Benz EQ team.

Quotes

Alexander Sims, BMW i Andretti Motorsport

“That was pretty much a dream race! We executed everything really well and we made the right decisions at the right time. 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.”

Lucas di Grassi, Audi Sport Abt Schaeffler Formula E Team

“It was the 60th race in Formula E and my 31st podium finish. I’m extremely happy. After a troubled weekend we’re back on top with this podium today. The fight for the title starts now! The team works non-stop, although we don’t have the tools now, we’re going to have them as the season wraps up. Now we need to work to be able to tackle the next phase of the season.”

Stoffel Vandoorne, Mercedes-Benz EQ Formula E Team

“I moved up from eleventh on the grid to finish third, so that was an action-packed race that ended with a good result for me. I was patient initially at the start and then showed good pace. I even managed to save some energy and deploy Attack Mode once I had pulled out a gap on those behind me, and so, did not lose too many positions. Still, in view of the fact that this was only the team’s first race weekend, we can be satisfied with our points haul.”