Diriyah E-Prix: Mercedes' de Vries wins FE's first night race

Mercedes racer Nyck de Vries controlled every lap of the Diriyah E-Prix from pole position to score his first Formula E race win ahead of Edoardo Mortara. 

Diriyah E-Prix: Mercedes' de Vries wins FE's first night race
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De Vries completed a race one clean sweep, topping both practice sessions, group qualifying and the superpole shootout as the new Mercedes car made a dominant competitive debut in FE's first night race in Riyadh. 

The manufacturer’s powertrain wrapped up an effective 1-2, with customer team Venturi Racing driver Edoardo Mortara pulling a late move on Audi’s Rene Rast to score second. 

De Vries made a very clean getaway to convert his pole position into the lead on the approach to Turn 1 as he stretched out an immediate 1.2s advantage. His initial escape was aided by a poor start for second-starting Pascal Wehrlein. The Porsche driver then had to defend from Rast, which delayed the pair. 

Although de Vries ran for much of the race with 1% less useable energy, he remained in control of the race despite two safety car intervals. 

A brief concern regarding overconsumption stopped de Vries from pulling completely clear, but he soon swapped mode to amend the issue and balance it out. 

In that time, Rast made his move for second place. He passed Wehrlein around the outside on the approach to the Turn 18 chicane, which prompted Wehrlein to dive for his first use of the 235kW attack mode.  

But the Audi driver never truly closed in on de Vries to threaten his lead, and after the two safety car interludes, the Dutch racer ran to victory by an emphatic 4.1s. 

Fourth-starting Edoardo Mortara used his attack mode to devasting effect, pulling an astonishing double pass on the Jaguar of Mitch Evans and then Wehrlein. Having access the higher power mode, he easily outdragged Evans and then darted across his nose to weave through the shrinking gap between him and Wehrlein. 

Mortara did drop back to third after Rast used his second attack mode, but a second safety car – called for Maximillian Gunther’s heavy crash into the wall after clattering an apex barrier – nullified Rast’s advantage almost immediately. 

That allowed Mortara to take attack mode on the restart and pass the three-time DTM champion to score an impressive second place finish. Evans then managed to demote Rast a place further, as Wehrlein fell to a somewhat quiet fifth place. 

The Nissan e.dams charge was headed by Oliver Rowland, a late climber thanks to BMW Andretti driver Gunther’s shunt. He also gained two positions from the collision between Sam Bird and Alex Lynn, who had been trading placed for sixth. 

But as Bird lunged for the inside line, Lynn appeared to pull across the track to leave Bird with nowhere to go and they spun, ending up facing nose-to-nose. Lynn would retire almost immediately with broken front-left suspension, and Bird continued for some time before pulling into the pits after reporting a strange noise from his car. 

That all allowed a recovering Alexander Sims to lead the Mahindra Racing charge in seventh, as yet another fanboost reward gave second Mercedes driver Stoffel Vandoorne fastest lap and eighth place. Lucas di Grassi completed the Audi line-up in ninth, as Oliver Turvey was a strong 10th for the improving NIO 333 team. 

After a botched group one qualifying run, reigning champion Antonio Felix da Costa did well to progress form 18th to 11th, despite tangling with 13th-placed Sebastien Buemi over the line. 

The pair were split by the BMW Andretti of rookie driver Jake Dennis, with fellow first-timers Norman Nato and Nick Cassidy in 14th and 19th. 

Double champion DS Techeetah driver Jean-Eric Vergne ran to a tame 15th ahead of the second Porsche of Andre Lotterer. 

Race results:

Cla # Driver Team Laps Gap
1 17 Netherlands Nyck de Vries Mercedes-EQ Formula E Team 32  
2 48 Switzerland Edoardo Mortara Monaco Venturi 32 4.119
3 20 New Zealand Mitch Evans Jaguar Racing 32 4.619
4 33 Germany René Rast Germany Team Abt 32 4.852
5 99 Germany Pascal Wehrlein Germany Porsche Team 32 7.962
6 22 United Kingdom Oliver Rowland France DAMS 32 9.318
7 29 United Kingdom Alexander Sims India Mahindra Racing 32 9.686
8 5 Belgium Stoffel Vandoorne Mercedes-EQ Formula E Team 32 9.973
9 11 Brazil Lucas di Grassi Germany Team Abt 32 11.089
10 8 United Kingdom Oliver Turvey United Kingdom NIO Formula E Team 32 15.518
11 13 Portugal Antonio Felix da Costa China Techeetah 32 16.225
12 27 United Kingdom Jake Dennis United States Andretti Autosport 32 17.025
13 23 Switzerland Sébastien Buemi France DAMS 32 17.273
14 71 France Norman Nato Monaco Venturi 32 17.312
15 25 France Jean-Eric Vergne China Techeetah 32 18.402
16 36 Germany Andre Lotterer Germany Porsche Team 32 18.417
17 4 Netherlands Robin Frijns United Kingdom Virgin Racing 32 18.822
18 88 United Kingdom Tom Blomqvist United Kingdom NIO Formula E Team 32 19.072
19 37 New Zealand Nick Cassidy United Kingdom Virgin Racing 32 19.951
20 7 Brazil Sergio Sette Camara DRAGON / PENSKE AUTOSPORT 32 20.174
21 6 Switzerland Nico Müller DRAGON / PENSKE AUTOSPORT 32 20.586
  28 Germany Maximilian Gunther United States Andretti Autosport 23 9 Laps
  10 United Kingdom Sam Bird Jaguar Racing 22 10 Laps
  94 United Kingdom Alex Lynn India Mahindra Racing 16 16 Laps
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