14 Sep 20

Victory Parade: A look at 2019/20's first-time race winners, starting with Sims' Diriyah triumph

The 2019/20 ABB FIA Formula E Championship saw some fresh faces get their hands on the winners' Moet & Chandon champagne and make their way onto the top step of the podium. The first of the new winners in Season 6 was Alexander Sims, with a dominant drive in Round 2 in Diriyah, back at the season-opening double-header.

The 32-year-old Brit has been involved with Formula E since its inception in 2014, first as a test and reserve driver for a number of outfits, before securing a race seat for season five with BMW i Andretti Motorsport.

His first season with the German marque brought about a maiden Julius Baer Pole Position in New York City, with his season six highlight undoubtedly that opening weekend victory in Diriyah, with a pole position double and a maiden Formula E win in Round 2 of the Saudi double-header.

“If you just look at the way he drives and his commitment, it’s very impressive," said BMW i Andretti Motorsport team principal Roger Griffifths. "He is so analytical, so calm and precise. One of our senior performance engineers described him as a ‘qualifying animal’ in Diriyah."

Three poles on the bounce for the 'qualifying animal' eventually brought about that debut on the top step of the Formula E podium. He fired away from pole and never looked back, utterly dominant in victory with the rest of the pack unable to contend with his pace and performance on the day.

"That was pretty much a dream race!" said a jubilant Sims after the race. "We executed everything really well and we made the right decisions at the right time. Crossing that line was an amazing feeling."

"He got the job done and was in total control, which in Formula E is a very rare thing. " added Griffifths. "Sometimes Alexander needs a bit of a prod to say, 'come on, you can be more aggressive here'. We were definitely looking for spirited performances and he did that more in Diriyah with his starts after safety car periods and just knowing when to push."

An instant classic! Highlights from the 2019 SAUDIA Diriyah E-Prix Round 2

Slip down the standings

Sims was unable to maintain the momentum after his second-round dominance. Santiago saw him slip, forced into retirement after coming off worst in a clash with a barrier.

Mexico City brought about a return to form as he fought his way through the pack to finish fifth after qualifying down in 18th, but in Marrakesh he suffered another none-finish.

After the season was put on hold due to the coronavirus pandemic, the six-race finale at Berlin Tempelhof offered a clean slate for the whole grid. Struggling to find a rhythm in his BMW, Sims was unable to capitalise. Over the six races he was only able to collect a total of three points, following a ninth and tenth place finish, and ended the season down in 13th position in the Drivers' standings.

"It's a real shame that after a season that started so well for me at Diriyah that it ended like this," said Sims, reflecting on his 2019/20 campaign.

"I couldn't find the rhythm in Berlin that I had earlier in the season. When we arrived, I thought we would fight for a place in the top three of the championship of drivers. So falling so low in the table is quite bitter," said Sims at the conclusion of the intense season finale.

Fresh challenge for Season 7

Mahindra Racing confirmed the signing of Sims for the 2020/21 ABB FIA Formula E World Championship, announcing that he would replace Jerome D'Ambrosio.

CEO and team principal Dilbagh Gill feels he's secured a proven talent, a team player and someone who marries with Mahindra Racing's ethos perfectly.

“I’m thrilled on behalf of the whole team to welcome Alexander. I’m extremely excited about working with him and the prospect of what we can achieve together is motivating," said Gill.

"In Alexander we have a proven racing talent plus someone that embodies what Mahindra Racing stands for with his personal principles in the areas of electrification and sustainability. He is an intellectual driver, a very nice guy and a team player."

“I’m delighted to be joining Mahindra Racing and continuing my Formula E journey," added Sims. "It is an exciting opportunity to bring on the team’s package and challenge for strong results.

"It’s been a huge learning curve coming into Formula E. It’s such a different discipline in motorsport and brings with it great new challenges. I’m excited to continue developing and to use my knowledge to support Mahindra Racing in the upcoming season.”

Formula E

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