06 Aug 20
03 Jul 20
To get you back up to speed over the next few weeks ahead of the nine-day six-race showdown in Berlin, starting August 5, we're re-running all five rounds of the 2019/20 ABB FIA Formula E Championship to-date. Next up: six talking points from Round 2, the second race of the Diriyah double-header back in November.
The historic Saudi town of Ad-Diriyah played host to not only the season-opener but a double header - the instant chance at redemption for the likes of reigning champion Jean-Eric Vergne, whose DS Techeetah suffered mechanical problems in the opener, as well as the opportunity to hammer home early-season authority for Round 1 winner - Envision Virgin Racing's Sam Bird.
Introduced ahead of the previous campaign in what was a world-first for motorsport, drivers now had access to a higher power mode, in addition to FANBOOST, throwing an extra hit of horsepower into the mix.
ATTACK MODE would yield an additional 10kW of power for 2019/20, rising from 225kW to 235kW and sure enough, it caused a whole heap of drama and strategic gameplaying throughout the field in Diriyah as drivers and teams got to grip with the extra juice at their fingertips.
After lifting his second championship trophy in New York City just a few months prior, the reigning champ, DS Techeetah driver Jean-Eric Vergne's return in Saudi Arabia was a distant cry from his triumph in The Big Apple.
Things didn't get much better from there for the Frenchman. A meeting with the wall during practice on the morning of the second race in Diriyah saw the Frenchman receive a 20-place grid drop after damage to his battery meant that the unit would need to be changed. He was slapped with a stop/go time penalty for good measure, as he couldn't be demoted the full 20 spots having qualified 10th.
Still, after starting from the back of the pack, JEV managed to battle his way through to finish eighth, with the help of a few post-race penalties dished out to other drivers.
Not an ideal way to begin a title defence, but that fighting spirit saw Vergne leave Saudi with points on the board.
BMW i Andretti Motorsport's Alex Sims finally converted a golden run of three pole positions into an elusive maiden race win in the all-electric street racing series, after the Brit saw the chequered flag in following a commanding lights-to-flag victory.
Sims' weekend went from 'disaster' to a sensational success. Far from expected, he said:
"We seemed to get every decision right. The pace was good, which was probably the fundamental thing that was really on my side. I felt like the car was really strong and we made all the right calls.
"I'd worked through some pretty tough moments over the past year and the team stuck by me and gave me all the help I needed. It's never the expectation from my side - you just work hard and hope for the best."
His immediate reaction after scooping his breakthrough victory in the all-electric street racing series? To ask how our commentators were, of course. Ever the gentleman!
The newly-formed Mercedes-Benz EQ outfit led the way in the Teams' standings after its inaugural ABB FIA Formula E Championship race weekend with 38 points from the double-header in Diriyah - no mean feat - pipping Envision Virgin Racing and BMW i Andretti Motorsport.
A pair of podiums for Stoffel Vandoorne and a sixth place finish for rookie Nyck de Vries saw the German giant off to an historic start - never before had a team made it onto the podium twice in its first two races.
Whilst impressive, it wasn't entirely as it might have seemed. Mercedes did spend 2018/19 scoping out the Formula E landscape with the participation of HWA RACELAB specifically geared towards supporting the entry of the Stuttgart-based car manufacturer a season later.
Still, it is anything but easy to string everything together over a Formula E encounter, let alone on your first outing proper.
It was all looking good for BMW i Andretti Motorsport's Maximilian Guenther in Diriyah. He'd made it onto the podium but found himself under investigation after the race for overtaking Audi Sport ABT Schaeffler's Lucas di Grassi whilst under the BMW i Safety Car.
This incurred the wroth of the stewards, who slapped Max with a 24-second time penalty, relegating him down the order to 11th and promoting Mercedes - and Stoffel Vandoorne - onto the podium, thus handing their rival German manufacturer that impressive record of being the first debutants to score a podium in their first two races in Formula E.
“Naturally, it is tough to be awarded a penalty like that retrospectively," said Guenther post-race. "The situation at the restart after the safety car period was unclear and it was frantic."
"Stoffel obviously made a quick decision to drive into the Attack Zone, which saw me come into contact with him slightly and damage the front of my car.
"Also, I was already alongside him at that point, and from my perspective there was no turning back. The action was unfortunate and I had hoped that it would be okay.
"The race officials saw things differently. I had to accept the decision. What remained was the fact that I drove a strong race and had the speed to finish on the podium."
Keep your eye on fiaformulae.com for our look back at Round 3 of the 2019/20 ABB FIA Formula E Championship from Santiago, Chile.