First night race in Formula E

ABB FIA Formula E World Championship Season 7 was started in the dark in Diriyah in Saudi Arabia.

Nyck de Vries had taken Pole Position for Mercedes-EQ, ahead of Pascal Wehrlein for TAG Heuer Porsche, while Audi Sport ABT Schaeffler with Rene Rast had been third fastest in the qualifying.

There had been some issues for several drivers ahead of and during Qualifying. Robin Frijns at Envision Virgin Racing had to start from the last position, since he had crash damage from FP2 to repair, so he missed the Qualifying.

Tom Blomqvist, Nico Müller, and Nick Cassidy lost their qualifying times, since they had posted the fastest times during Yellow Flag zone, caused by Sergio Sette Camara, who had hit the barrier.

Diriyah E-Prix race 1 2021
Photo: ABB FIA Formula E World Championship

Defending Champion, Antonio Felix da Costa at DS Techeetah, was all the way back in 18th on the grid. The qualifying groups were down to the Championship standings from last year, so the Portuguese driver had to go out in Group 1, where the track was most dirty. He was one step ahead of teammate and 2017/18 and 2018/19 Champion Jean-Eric Vergne, and one spot behind 2015/16 Champ Sebastien Buemi, while 2016/17 Champ Lucas di Grassi was right in front of him.

Nico Müller chose to start the race from the pits.

This was the first time in F0rmula E history to run during the night. The drivers didn’t have much running during the dark – just 45 minutes yesterday evening – the same time as the duration of the race.

Everybody made it safely through Turn 1, where Rast pushed Wehrlein very hard but had to fall behind.

The day only got worse for Sergio Sette Camara, since he was handed a drive-through penalty, for not following FIA procedures.

The two Envision Virgin Racing drivers, Frijns and Cassidy were the first drivers to use their first Attack Mode, which all drivers had to use twice during the race.

Mitch Evans, Alexander Lynn, Sam Bird
Photo: ABB FIA Formula E World Championship

Tom Blomqvist was handed a Drive-through penalty, since he had too much re-gen during braking. Not that he personally could do much about it, since that would be controlled by the car itself.

Sam Bird made an aggressive move on Alexander Lynn, but thankfully didn’t touch each other.

Rast took second in the race, by overtaking Wehrlein around the outside. Wehrlein instantly dived for Attack Mode, right after.

Rene Rast & Pascal Wehrlein
Photo: ABB FIA Formula E World Championship

Wehrlein appeared to have problems, since he lost two spots to Edoardo Mortara and Mitch Evans, with Mortara taking full advantage of Attack Mode.

There were troubles at Turn 1, where Sam Bird and Alexander Lynn crashed into each other. Bird tried to overtake, while Lynn defended a lot. Lynn was turned around, and the two cars tangled. There was a bit of finger-pointing between the drivers, until Bird found Reverse, and headed for the pitlane, to get a new nose for the car. The race was over for Lynn, since his front suspension had been damaged on the Mahindra racer.

Antonio Felix da Costa, Stoffel Vandoorne, Lucas di Grassi, Nyck de Vries, and Jake Dennis were the five drivers, that received Fan Boost in the race today.

The stranded Lynn plus some debris resulted in the Safety Car having to be deployed.

It took almost 10 minutes, until the race went green again, so that left the drivers with just 14 minutes plus a lap left.

The green flag period wasn’t long, until Maximilian Günther hit the concrete wall, ripping the rear wheel off his car. That resulted in another Safety car period.

That went a lot smoother, so the drivers had just over 5 minutes of racing left.

Nyck de Vries
Photo: ABB FIA Formula E World Championship

Mortara lost the second spot, when he went for his final Attack Mode. He quickly gained the spot back, with the speed advantage, down the following, long straight.

Mitch Evans got past Rene Rast too, making his way onto the podium.

Oliver Rowland tried to overtake Pascal Wehrlein, but the door was firmly shut for the Brit.

Nyck de Vries won the race, without being under pressure at any time. Edoardo Mortara finished second, while Mitch Evens finished third.

Sebastien Buemi just made it over the finishing line, before the car ran out of power. The slower car, going out of the final turn, resulted in a bit of contact between the cars behind him.

The second ABB FIA Formula E World Champion race in Ad Riyadh will be run tomorrow, at the very same Diriyah circuit in Saudi Arabia.

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