While Antonio Felix Da Costa of BMW i Andretti Motorsport scored a win in the opening Ad Diriyah E-Prix, Mahindra Racing's Jerome d'Ambrosio secured a podium finish in the 2019 season opener.
With Jerome d'Ambrosio and Pascal Wehrlein leading the attack for team Mahindra Racing in the fifth season of the ABB FIA Formula E, the team got off to a good start today as Ambrosio secured a third-place finish for team Mahindra Racing in the Ad Diriyah E-Prix. BMW i Andretti Autosport's Antonio Felix da Costa won the season opener while reigning champion Jean Eric-Vergne of DS Techeetah took second place.
Pole-sitter Da Costa had pulled away on the first lap itself, followed by Sebastien Buemi (Nissan e.dams) and Jose Maria Lopez (Geox Dragon). Vergne, meanwhile, was successfully able to overtake Stoffel Vandoorne (HWA Racelab), who had started from the fourth position on the first lap itself. As Da Costa consolidated his lead, Vergne closed in on Buemi and passed him on lap nine after an aggressive move outside of turn 18. As the race progressed, Vergne was able to pass Da Costa to take P1, however, Vergne's drive-through pit penalty for using beyond permissible levels of power while using the newly-introduced 'Attack-Mode' meant that he rejoined in fifth, allowing Da Costa to regain the lead.
As the race saw the arrival of the safety car in the final stages due to Lopez's retirement, Da Costa once again had everyone right on his tail. However, Da Costa activated his Attack Mode off the back of the safety car to quickly re-open a two-second lead and then just about held off a resurgent Vergne. Making his Formula E debut, Felipe Massa (Venturi Formula E team) could only manage a 14th place finish as he too was handed a pit drive-through penalty for the same violation as Vergne.
Standing in as a temporary replacement for Pascal Wehrlein at Mahindra Racing, Felix Rosenqvist got a DNF as he retired after completing just 8 laps. (Due to Pascal Wehrlein's contractual obligation with Mercedes in the FIA DTM, he could not run the race for Mahindra Racing because of which the team roped in their ex-driver, Felix Rosenqvist).
This season, with the introduction of ‘Fanboost’ and the ‘Attack Mode’, promises plenty of fan engagement (a point that has been the bone of contention with Formula E fans around the world) and more competitive racing. The Fanboost feature allows fans to vote for their favourite driver in the six days prior to and leading up to 15 minutes into, each race. Then, the top five drivers with the highest number of votes get to use the Fanboost in the second half of the race, which allows them to use an extra 25kW surge of power for a five-second window. A similar power surge can also be used by drivers in the Attack Mode, which must be activated twice in the race by each driver, with each burst lasting four minutes. Another crucial format change for this season is that the races will now run for a 45-minute duration, switching from the previous lap-based system.