Mercedes-EQ driver Nick de Vries stole victory in Formula E's first ever night race as Season 7 of the FIA Formula E World Championship commenced in Saudi Arabia.
Today marked the start of a new chapter in the history of the Formula E series as it has gained FIA World Championship status for 2021. Season 7 of the championship commenced with the series’ first ever night race in Diriyah.
Starting from the pole position, Nick de Vries got a perfect getaway to cover off Audi’s Rene Rast and Porsche’s Pascal Wehrlein. The Dutchman managed to build up a gap from the chasing group of Wehrlein, Rast, Edoardo Mortara, Mitch Evans and Alex Lynn.
While Wehrlein was looking to struggle with the pace, Rast did not hesitate to launch a move and improve to the second spot. De Vries, in the meantime, looked in control of the race, maintaining his excellent race pace.
Reacting to the overtaking manoeuvre, Wehrlein activated his attack mode, but Rast was able to increase the gap despite himself using the normal power mode. The Audi driver elected to make use of the full 235kW on Lap 14. Wehrlein started to struggle with Mortara and Evans discovering an opportunity to attack the German. Both drivers found the way past Wehrlein, overtaking him in a stunning three-wide double pass.
On Lap 16, Bird and Lynn came together while battling for sixth. The Mahindra driver’s car sustained significant damage, forcing Lynn to park his car down on the road. The Safety Car was deployed, neutralising the happenings at the half-way stage of the E-Prix.
De Vries, Rast, Mortara, Evans, Wehrlein, Guenther, Oliver Rowland (Nissan e.dams), Porsche’s Andre Lotterer, Mahindra Racing’s Alexander Sims and Lucas di Grassi (Audi Sport ABT Schaeffler) rounded out the top ten when the action was resumed.
Just a few laps later, Maximilian Guenther got it wrong at Turn 2 with his mistake sending him into the barriers. The BMW i Safety Car rolled out on to the track for a second time.
When the action continued, only five minutes plus a lap remained. De Vries still led from Mortara, Rast, Evans, Wehrlein, Sims, Rowland, di Grassi, Vandoorne and Oliver Turvey.
Rast could not fend off the attacks from Mortara and Evans with both of them enjoying the extra boost of 35kW.
In the meantime, de Vries kept his cool and crossed the line with a healthy lead, taking his maiden Formula E win.
The Dutchman commented: "My first victory in Formula E! What a fantastic result and a perfect start to our second season. I don't know why, but I was quite calm after the race despite the pleasure of winning. It's been a great weekend for me so far, setting the fastest time in every session and then winning the E-Prix itself.
„That's obviously a very nice feeling, but it was by no means an easy race. There were so many safety car deployments, and it was difficult to always select the right energy management. It took a lot of communication with the team, but it's great that I was able to come home with the win in the end.
„Many thanks to the whole team. I know it sounds like a cliché, but everyone in our team has worked very hard over the winter to get us up here on the podium today. So again, a huge thank you to the whole squad for their tireless work. You've earned this victory," de Vries concluded.
Formula E's back to do it all again tomorrow, with Round 2 and more dicing in the dark from Diriyah's Riyadh Street Circuit and a second jolt of electric street racing to launch the 2020/21 campaign.