01 Aug 20
26 Jun 20
To get you back up to speed over the next few weeks ahead of the nine-day six-race showdown in Berlin, we're re-running all five rounds of the 2019/20 ABB FIA Formula E Championship to-date, starting with six talking points from a Saudi spectacular from Diriyah back in November.
Diriyah welcomed Mercedes-Benz EQ and the TAG Heuer Porsche to the Formula E fold for the eagerly-anticipated debuts of the powerhouse German pair in the all-electric series. A record, expanded 12-team entry list saw 24 of the world’s top drivers take to the grid for the first race of the 2019/20 Championship in Saudi Arabia.
Also on debut were James Calado at Panasonic Jaguar Racing and FIA Formula 2 Champion Nyck de Vries at Mercedes-Benz EQ, while Brendon Hartley and Nico Mueller formed the new-for-Season 6 GEOX Dragon line-up. New Zealander Hartley would have something of a baptism of fire in the opener.
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.
Envision Virgin Racing's Sam Bird scooped the first win of the season, leading TAG Heuer Porsche's Andre Lotterer and Mercedes-Benz EQ's Stoffel Vandoorne in third - teeing up the battle of the German powerhouses for the season to come in fine style.
Bird steered the customer Audi E-Tron FE06 to the head of the pack having qualified fifth, behind both Mercedes' on the grid with Vandoorne and Nyck de Vries lining up an impressive second and third respectively on the marque's debut.
Sims kept the two Mercedes' at bay for two-thirds of the encounter but eventually slipped back through the pack to eighth - far beneath his early-weekend pace and potential.
Bird, meanwhile, travelled in the opposite direction, pipping Vandoorne with a winning move inside the last ten minutes of the race and holding off Andre Lotterer for victory as Stoffel slipped back.
The reigning, and now double-champ struggled in Saudi. Jean-Eric Vergne qualified down in 11th and a technical problem with his DS Techeetah meant things went from bad to worse in quick-time, as a steering issued meant Round 1 would end in retirement.
The exasperated Frenchman firmly on the back foot in his bid for a third title right from the off, then, thanks to that mechanical failure - though even prior to that point he had hardly clicked in Diriyah.
With the city hosting a double-header on the opening weekend, however, the opportunity was there for the Parisian to put things right straight away should he find form.
It was a perfect first day in Formula E for the two legendary German auto-makers. A sign of things to come for the competition?
Andre Lotterer took the second step on the podium for TAG Heuer Porsche and was followed by Mercedes-Benz EQ's Stoffel Vandoorne in third.
Impressive, given the trademark competitiveness of the all-electric street racing series but perhaps a mark of both firms' history, steeped in motor racing heritage and glory from their inception - and across all disciplines.
Whilst Porsche were entirely fresh, 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.
Diriyah played host to not only the season-opener but a double header - the instant chance at redemption for the likes of Vergne and the opportunity to hammer home early-season authority for Round 1 winner Bird.
Keep your eye on fiaformulae.com for our look back at Round 2 of the 2019/20 ABB FIA Formula E Championship from the historic Saudi city.