Alexander Sims is the leader of the 2019-20 FIA Formula E Championship standings at the end of the Diriyah ePrix double-header after the BMW i Andretti driver claimed a lights-to-flag victory in Saturday’s race.

The Briton led home teammate Maximilian Günther to claim a 1-2 result for the team, however the German youngster was subsequently stripped of his maiden podium finish and handed a post-race drive-through penalty for overtaking under Safety Car conditions.

With Günther dumped out of the points to eleventh place, that promoted Audi Sport ABT Schaeffler’s Lucas di Grassi to second place and gave Mercedes-Benz EQ’s Stoffel Vandoorne back-to-back podium finishes in the Silver Arrows’ factory debut.

Sims’ calm run to his first Formula E race win was in stark contrast to a chaotic race behind him. He initially led away from pole position ahead of Nissan e.dams’ Sébastien Buemi who started alongside him on the front row and steadily built a gap over the Swiss driver who was left to contend with de Grassi and DS Techeetah’s António Félix da Costa.

2019 FIA Formula E Championship Diriyah ePrix start

Having claimed three pole positions in a row, Sims finally broke through for his maiden Formula E race win.

More circumspect with his energy use than in Race 1 when he tumbled down the order in the final laps, Sims used his first of two compulsory ‘Attack Mode’ activations on Lap 7 to increase his advantage.

Behind him, da Costa had worked his way past di Grassi at Turn 18 and was now running in Buemi’s wheeltracks. As the pair exited the right-hander, Buemi slowed and jinked to the right with the intent of passing through the ‘Attack Mode’ activation zone, but was clipped by da Costa and tipped into a spin.

That plummeted the Swiss driver down the order and his dangerous return to the circuit forced several drivers to take avoiding action – this would later earn him a post-race time penalty. Da Costa was later issued with a drive-through penalty for punting Buemi, which he later served during the race.

Yet to serve his penalty, da Costa took his ‘Attack Mode’ and dropped behind di Grassi before launching an attack at Turn 1 on the next lap.

This triggered the race’s next major drama and as di Grassi checked up at the corner exit that in turn baulked Race 1 winner Sam Bird, which saw the Envision Virgin Racing driver come under attack from Jaguar’s Mitch Evans.

The New Zealander took the inside line at Turn 3 and as the pair fed into the long right-hander at Turn 5 they touched. Bird drifted wide and clipped the outside wall before being collected by Mahindra’s Pascal Wehrlein. The secondary contact put Bird out of the race, with Evans later issued a harsh drive-through penalty for his role in the incident.

Sam Bird, Envision Virgin Racing Audi e-tron FE06 - 2019 FIA Formula E Championship Diriyah ePrix

Bird’s hopes of claiming back-to-back victories ended in the wall, triggered by contact with Evans and Wehrlein.

The Safety Car was deployed so Bird’s car could be cleared away, erasing Sims’ hard-earned lead.

As the field bunched up to take the restart, several drivers opted to take an ‘Attack Mode’ activation with the zone positioned before the Safety Car line.

Sims was one such driver to do so, with the following da Costa (who did not take an ‘Attack Mode’ and was still to serve his earlier drive-through penalty) smartly backing off to ensure he did not overtake the British driver while still under Safety Car conditions.

The same could not be said of Sims’ teammate Günther who quite blatantly overtook several drivers to move himself into podium contention.

Da Costa served his penalty after the restart, promoting di Grassi into second place. The green flag conditions would not last long, however, as Envision Virgin Racing suffered a double retirement when Robin Frijns lost the back of his car and hit the wall at Turn 9.

The Safety Car was summoned into action again and bizarrely recalled before Frijns’ stricken car had been removed, forcing officials to hastily trigger a full-course caution to slow the pack once again.

When racing resumed on Lap 22, di Grassi took his second ‘Attack Mode’, dropping behind Günther and Vandoorne. With an extra 35kW at his disposal, the Brazilian breezed by Vandoorne but could not penetrate Günther’s stout defences before his power advantage ran out.

Günther played a fine rear gunner role to deny a frustrated di Grassi a shot at passing him and challenging race leader Sims, who cruised to victory.

Vandoorne finished fourth on the road from eleventh on the grid with Venturi Racing’s Edoardo Mortara fifth, although both would be promoted one place thanks to Günther’s subsequent penalty.

Porsche’s André Lotterer was provisionally classified in sixth, but like Günther – and along with Mercedes-Benz’s Nyck de Vries, Venturi’s Felipe Massa, Evans and NIO’s Ma Qing Hua – was among the list of drivers to be handed post-race drive-through penalties for pit lane or Safety Car driving infringements.

Nissan e.dams’ Oliver Rowland was therefore classified fifth ahead of di Grassi’s teammate Daniel Abt – who served a drive-through penalty earlier in the race for a throttle mapping infraction – and Jaguar rookie James Calado.

NIO’s Oliver Turvey should have been promoted to sixth amid all the post-race penalties but he was disqualified for exceeding the maximum permitted energy use.

After failing to finish Friday’s race with a steering rack failure, defending champion Jean-Éric Vergne finished eighth after starting from the back of the grid due to an unscheduled battery change. The Frenchman had served a 10-second stop/go penalty early in the race for being unable to fulfill the full 20-place grid penalty for his battery swap but somehow kept his head amid the chaos to claim a points’ finish.

Completing the top-ten after the multitude of penalties were handed out were GEOX Dragon rookie Brendon Hartley and Vergne’s teammate da Costa.

With sixteen of the field’s 24 drivers scoring points in the season-opening double-header, Sims leads the Drivers’ Championship standings on 35 points ahead of Vandoorne (30), Bird (26) and Rowland (22), with di Grassi, Lotterer and Mortara tied for fifth on 18 points apiece.

In the Teams’ Championship, newcomers Mercedes-Benz EQ (38 points) find themselves at the top of the standings with a two-point margin to Envision Virgin Racing (36) with BMW i Andretti Motorsport (35) third.

The second round of the 2019-20 FIA Formula E Championship, the Santiago ePrix, takes place at the Parque O’Higgins Circuit on 18 January 2020.

2019 Formula E Ad Diriyah ePrix – Race 1 Final Classification (30 laps)
Driver Team / Entry Result Pts
1. Alexander Sims BMW i Andretti Motorsport 46:48.327 28
2. Lucas di Grassi Audi Sport ABT Schaeffler + 2.817 18
3. Stoffel Vandoorne Mercedes-Benz EQ Formula E Team + 3.581 15
4. Edoardo Mortara ROKiT Venturi Racing + 4.294 12
5. Oliver Rowland Nissan e.dams + 5.475 10
6. Daniel Abt Audi Sport ABT Schaeffler + 16.942 8
7. James Calado Panasonic Jaguar Racing + 17.221 6
8. Jean-Éric Vergne DS Techeetah + 19.394 4
9. Brendon Hartley GEOX Dragon + 20.702 2
10. António Félix da Costa DS Techeetah + 22.634 3
11. Maximilian Günther BMW i Andretti Motorsport + 25.383
12. Sébastien Buemi Nissan e.dams + 26.291
13. Neel Jani TAG Heuer Porsche Formula E Team + 27.493
14. André Lotterer TAG Heuer Porsche Formula E Team + 29.046
15. Pascal Wehrlein Mahindra Racing + 32.290
16. Nyck de Vries Mercedes-Benz EQ Formula E Team + 36.318
17. Felipe Massa ROKiT Venturi Racing + 45.758
18. Mitch Evans Panasonic Jaguar Racing + 1:01.105
19. Ma Qing Hua NIO 333 FE Team + 1:28.165
Not Classified Team / Entry Reason Pts
DNF. Nico Müller GEOX Dragon Puncture
DNF. Robin Frijns Envision Virgin Racing Accident
DNF. Sam Bird Envision Virgin Racing Collision
DNS. Jérôme d’Ambrosio Mahindra Racing Mechanical
EXC. Oliver Turvey NIO 333 FE Team Energy Use

Championship Points:

  • Championship points are awarded on the results of the Final Classification of each ePrix to the race’s top-ten finishers on a 25-18-15-12-10-8-6-4-2-1 sliding scale.
  • A bonus point is awarded to the driver (António Félix da Costa) and their corresponding team (DS Techeetah) for posting the fastest lap of the race.
  • Three bonus points are awarded to the driver (Alexander Sims) and their corresponding team (BMW i Andretti) for claiming pole position.
  • A bonus point is awarded to the driver (António Félix da Costa) and their corresponding team (DS Techeetah) for being the fastest driver in the group stages of qualifying.

Post-Race Penalties:

  • Maximilian Günther was issued a drive-through penalty (converted to a 24-second time penalty) for overtaking under Safety Car conditions.
  • Sébastien Buemi received a 10-second time penalty for rejoining the circuit in an unsafe manner.
  • André Lotterer was issued a drive-through penalty (converted to a 24-second time penalty) for overtaking under Safety Car conditions.
  • Nyck de Vries was issued a drive-through penalty (converted to a 24-second time penalty) for overtaking under Safety Car conditions. He was issued a further 5-second time penalty for a battery software implementation violation.
  • Felipe Massa was issued a drive-through penalty (converted to a 24-second time penalty) for speeding in the pit lane.
  • Mitch Evans was issued a drive-through penalty (converted to a 24-second time penalty) for overtaking under Safety Car conditions.
  • Ma Qing Hua was issued a drive-through penalty (converted to a 24-second time penalty) for causing a collision with Nico Müller. He was issued an additional drive-through penalty (converted to a 24-second time penalty) for overtaking under Safety Car conditions. He also received a 5-second time penalty due to his battery being below 97% charge on the dummy grid.
  • Oliver Turvey was disqualified for using 40.06kWh of total energy, exceeding the 40kWh maximum permitted usage.

Images via ABB FIA Formula E Championship

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Richard Bailey

Founder & Chief Editor at MotorsportM8
Hasn't missed a Grand Prix since 1989. Has a soft spot for Minardi. Tattooed with 35+ Grand Prix circuits.