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Race report
Formula E Diriyah ePrix I

Diriyah E-Prix: De Vries begins Formula E title defence in style

Nyck de Vries opened his Formula E title defence in style, leading home team-mate Stoffel Vandoorne for a Mercedes 1-2 at the Diriyah E-Prix.

Stoffel Vandoorne, Mercedes-Benz EQ, EQ Silver Arrow 02, Jake Dennis, Andretti Motorsport, BMW iFE.21, Nyck de Vries, Mercedes-Benz EQ, EQ Silver Arrow 02, Andre Lotterer, Porsche, Porsche 99X Electric, the rest of the field at the start

Having missed almost all of the opening practice session of the weekend due to a crash, de Vries completed a full recovery over the remaining sessions, culminating in him pouncing on an attack mode error from Vandoorne to capture victory in the season-opener.

The rapidly starting Mercedes duo swept into the front two positions off the line, with de Vries overhauling a slightly sluggish Jake Dennis.

Vandoorne kept de Vries behind him, however, and looked every bit worth his lead in the early stages before an early safety car, brought out to extricate Oliver Rowland’s crashed Mahindra, dumped into the wall amid a close-quarters battle with Robin Frijns.

Rowland had originally given Frijns more than a fleeting tap into the wall in Turn 14, and thus Frijns repaid the favour two corners later with a nudge from behind.

Frijns’ robust attack earned him a drive-through penalty, ending his hopes of leaving the season opener with points on the board.

Vandoorne wasted no time and elected not to back up the pack at the restart, instead deciding to charge off to continue his tenure in the lead.

But in the process of trying to build a break, Vandoorne missed his marks on his second attack mode activation and ceded the lead to de Vries.

The reigning champion held strongly and, although Vandoorne attempted to atone for his earlier error and eat into de Vries’ lead, the Dutchman had the measure of him to capture an expertly managed win.

Mercedes’ domination ensured that they finished over eight seconds ahead of third-placed Dennis, who completed the podium.

After dropping a position at the start to de Vries, Dennis lost another spot to Andre Lotterer during the second round of attack mode, as the Porsche driver undercut him to hold third place.

But Lotterer began to overconsume his energy and this left him susceptible to multiple assaults from Dennis – who was left frustrated by the German’s riposte on the first time around at Turn 18 and ran wide, losing time.

Dennis eventually made a clean pass on lap 27, leaving Lotterer as prey for the chasing trio of Sam Bird, Lucas di Grassi and Nick Cassidy.

Bird cleared the ailing Lotterer three laps late and managed to keep di Grassi at bay over the final 10 tours to cement fourth place.

Edoardo Mortara made it two Venturis in the top six with a late clearance of Cassidy, who also began to struggle with power consumption towards the end – as 5m15s was added on in extra time following the safety car.

Behind, Jean-Eric Vergne prevailed in a lengthy scrap with Mitch Evans to claim eighth place, ahead of rookie Oliver Askew – who also passed Evans at the death to double his points haul from the race.

Lotterer dropped out of the points completely, finishing 13th behind team-mate Pascal Wehrlein and Maximilian Guenther.

Antonio Felix da Costa joined Rowland on the retirement list, calling it a day after lap 1 with suspension damage.

Results

Cla Driver Team Laps Time Gap
1 Netherlands Nyck de Vries Germany Mercedes 41 52'14.642  
2 Belgium Stoffel Vandoorne Germany Mercedes 41 52'15.278 0.636
3 United Kingdom Jake Dennis United States Andretti Autosport 41 52'23.444 8.802
4 United Kingdom Sam Bird United Kingdom Jaguar Racing 41 52'29.567 14.925
5 Brazil Lucas di Grassi Monaco Venturi 41 52'29.794 15.152
6 Switzerland Edoardo Mortara Monaco Venturi 41 52'30.657 16.015
7 New Zealand Nick Cassidy United Kingdom Virgin Racing 41 52'31.907 17.265
8 France Jean-Eric Vergne China Techeetah 41 52'39.718 25.076
9 United States Oliver Askew United States Andretti Autosport 41 52'40.341 25.699
10 New Zealand Mitch Evans United Kingdom Jaguar Racing 41 52'41.962 27.320
11 Germany Pascal Wehrlein Germany Porsche Team 41 52'43.423 28.781
12 Germany Maximilian Gunther France DAMS 41 52'45.178 30.536
13 Germany Andre Lotterer Germany Porsche Team 41 52'46.163 31.521
14 United Kingdom Alexander Sims India Mahindra Racing 41 52'49.214 34.572
15 Brazil Sergio Sette Camara United States Dragon Racing 41 52'51.423 36.781
16 Netherlands Robin Frijns United Kingdom Virgin Racing 41 52'54.595 39.953
17 Switzerland Sébastien Buemi France DAMS 41 52'55.976 41.334
18 United Kingdom Dan Ticktum United Kingdom NIO Formula E Team 41 53'03.864 49.222
19 United Kingdom Oliver Turvey United Kingdom NIO Formula E Team 41 53'05.607 50.965
20 Italy Antonio Giovinazzi United States Dragon Racing 41 53'31.169 1'16.527
  United Kingdom Oliver Rowland India Mahindra Racing 7 8'59.699 34 Laps
  Portugal Antonio Felix da Costa China Techeetah 0 52.913 41 Laps

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