Formula E: Britons rule at 2019/2020 curtain raiser in Saudi Arabia
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Formula E: Britons rule at 2019/2020 curtain raiser in Saudi Arabia


Sam Bird (Envision Virgin Racing/Michelin) and Alexander Sims (BMW I Andretti Motorsport) took the two wins at the opening meeting of the 2019/2020 Formula E Championship in Diriyah, Saudi Arabia. Michelin has been the official tyre supplier to the FIA’s all-electric racing series since its creation in 2014.

Race 1: Bird kicks off Season 6 in style

Sam Bird was first past the chequered flag to claim the first of the weekend’s two e-prix in Saudi Arabia, ahead of André Lotterer (TAG Heuer Porsche) and Stoffel Vandoorne (Mercedes-Benz EQ). Their Michelin Pilot Sport tyres helped to provide competitive grip despite the brushing of sand that could be seen off the racing line.

The 2019/2020 championship’s opening meeting saw the chief new feature of Michelin’s involvement in Formula E this season – Michelin Track Connect – used for the first time in a competitive situation. The new system is founded on a pressure sensor located inside the drivers’ Michelin Pilot Sport tyres which automatically provides Michelin Motorsport and FIA engineers with encrypted tyre pressure-related data. To verify the solution’s accuracy, pressures were also taken using manual gauges and the results coincided perfectly to confirm Michelin Track Connect’s reliability and accuracy.

In contrast to the race’s first half-hour, which saw the three drivers who started from the front of grid – namely Sims, Vandoorne and Nyck de Vries (Mercedes-Benz EQ) – hold position, the closing stages proved extremely spectacular as Bird and Lotterer pulled off some great moves to move up the order.

Having started from Row 2, Bird secured the ninth Formula E win of his career, chased by drivers competing in the colours of the championship’s newcomers, Porsche and Mercedes. Oliver Rowland (Nissan e.dams) and Robin Frijns (Envision Virgin Racing) rounded out the top five, but the competition’s former champions struggled. Jean-Eric Vergne (DS Techeetah) and Sébastien Buemi (Nissan e.dams) both failed to finish, while Lucas di Grassi (Audi Sport Abt Schaeffler) had to settle for 13th spot.


Race 1 – Final classification:

1. Sam Bird (Envision Virgin Racing),

2. André Lotterer (TAG Heuer Porsche), +1.319s

3. Stoffel Vandoorne (Mercedes-Ben EQ Formula E Team), +1.672s

4. Oliver Rowland (Nissan e.dams), +1.944s

5. Robin Frijns (Envision Virgin Racing), +3.983s


Race 2: Sims collects maiden Formula E success

After topping both of the weekend’s qualifying sessions, Sims produced a lights-out to chequered flag win in Race 2 to beat di Grassi and Vandoorne.

Compared with the previous day’s clash, there was more grip available and Race 2 turned out to be far more drama-packed, with numerous collisions, two safety car interruptions and a long list of penalties.

Hostilities kicked off in earnest on Lap 9 when Antonio Felix da Costa (DS Techeetah) punted Buemi’s Nissan to move up to second spot, leading to a thrilling scrap for the podium placings between the Portuguese driver, di Grassi and Bird.

The Safety Car was deployed for the first time on Lap 14 after Bird tangled with Mitch Evans (Panasonic Jaguar Racing) and Pascal Wehrlein (Mahindra Racing), and again five laps later after Frijns smacked a wall.

Sims’ team-mate was second over the line but was later disqualified, handing third place to Vandoorne who completed both races inside the top three.

Next round: Santiago, Chile (January 18, 2020)

Race 2 – Final classification:

1. Alexander Sims (BMW I Andretti Motorsport), 30 laps

2. Lucas di Grassi (Audi Sport Abt Schaeffler),+2.817s

3. Stoffel Vandoorne (Mercedes-Benz EQ Formula E Team), +3.581s

4. Edoardo Mortara (Rokit Venturi Racing), +4.294s

5. Olivier Rowland (Nissan e.dams), +5.475s