Start, Formula E, Diriyah, 2019

Sims wins as Bird crashes in race two

Formula E

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Alexander Sims took a lights-to-flag win for BMW Andretti in Formula E’s second round in Diriyah.

However the team missed out on a potential one-two as Max Guenther was penalised for a Safety Car infringement. That promoted Stoffel Vandoorne to the podium for Mercedes again on their debut weekend in the series.

Starting from pole position for the second time in 24 hours, Sims lined up with Sebastien Buemi alongside him, Lucas di Grassi and Mitch Evans behind and a gap where Jerome D’Ambrosio’s car had been after it failed on the grid.

The cars made a clean getaway and despite a strong challenge from Di Grassi making a move on Buemi, Sims held the lead for the first 10 minutes of the race. With 33 minutes remaining, Antonio Felix da Costa clipped the back of Buemi as the Nissan driver attempted to trigger his Attack Mode. Buemi then rejoined across the field, forcing his team mate Oliver Rowland wide.

All the cars recovered and the race continued. But five minutes later Da Costa – now in third and running in close traffic – made a move on Di Grassi which triggered a chain reaction effect. Di Grassi robustly defended the move, forcing Da Costa back into Sam Bird and Evans, who was looking to reclaim the place he lost to his rival earlier.

Bird and Evans made contact with each other, then the wall. Evans headed for the pits while Bird limped on and was bit by Wehrlein, putting yesterday’s winner into the wall.

Race one winner Bird crashed out
The Safety Car was deployed while the wreckage was cleared, and drivers deducted 5kWh of energy in line with new rules for the 2019-20 season. The restart proved controversial. Several drivers headed for the Attack Mode zone and were passed by some of their rivals who did not. However as drivers are supposed to maintain position until they pass the Safety Car line, this shouldn’t have happened.

Guenther was among those to benefit, rising from fifth to third, and was not initially placed under investigation. The green flag was relatively short-lived as, in a disastrous reversal of fortune from the first race, Virgin’s second car retired as Robin Frijns hit the wall after skidding on dust. Meanwhile Da Costa was given a drive-through penalty for the contact with Buemi, taking him out of the top runners.

The second Safety Car came in with 10 minutes remaining but, alarmingly, did so before Frijn’s car had been fully removed and with marshals still on the track. Race control called a short Full Course Yellow period to ensure the car was removed safely and Sims was able to keep the lead on both restarts. Eventually a total of 12kWh was deducted from the starting total for all the combined Safety Car periods.

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Evans, who had recovered to 10th, was given a drive-through penalty for the contact with Bird. Lotterer, sixth, was also given a 10-second penalty shortly before the end. Despite Di Grassi’s best attempts, he was unable to pass Guenther and the three crossed the line with Sims first, Guenther second and Di Grassi in third.

However, the stewards then announced a 24-second time penalty for Guenther for overtaking under safety car, promoting Vandoorne to his second podium of the weekend. Further penalties for Oliver Turvey for over-use of power promoted Brendon Hartley to his first Formula E points finish, on what had otherwise been a dismal day for the Dragon team.

Sims’s victory means he leads the drivers’ championship by eight points from Vandoorne, and will stay there for almost two months, as the season will not resume until January 18th in Santiago, Chile.

Provisional results:

1. Alexander Sims – BMW Andretti
2. Lucas di Grassi – Audi Abt
3. Stoffel Vandoorne – Mercedes
4. Edoardo Mortara – Venturi
5. Oliver Rowland – Nissan EDams
6. Nyck de Vries – Mercedes
7. Daniel Abt – Audi Abt
8. James Calado – Jaguar
9. Jean-Eric Vergne – DS Techeetah
10. Brendon Hartley – Dragon
11. Antonio Felix da Costa – DS Techeetah
12. Maximilian Guenther – BMW Andretti
13. Sebastien Buemi – Nissan EDams
14. Andre Lotterer – Porsche
15. Pascal Wehrlein – Mahindra
16. Mitch Evans – Jaguar
17. Felipe Massa – Venturi
18. Ma Qinghua – NIO

DNF Nico Mueller – Dragon
DNF Robin Frijns – Virgin
DNF Sam Bird – Virgin
DNF Jerome D’Ambrosio – Mahindra

DSQ – Oliver Turvey – NIO

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Author information

Hazel Southwell
Hazel is a motorsport and automotive journalist with a particular interest in hybrid systems, electrification, batteries and new fuel technologies....

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18 comments on “Sims wins as Bird crashes in race two”

  1. It was a typical messy FE affair. Stewards had a busy time with handing out penalties today.

    1. Funny how we get hundres of people calling out at F1 races where there is a penalty (or two) applied after the race, but FE keeps having these confusing penalty bonanzas shuffling the finishing order.

  2. Remember “Bamboozled” game (and its rules) from Friends?

    Formula E is the same game, but on wheels.

    I am happy for those who likes it, but I am staying away from this fake racing. Thank you very much.

    1. Fake Racing?
      Are you talking about F1’s DRS?

    2. Perhaps you’ve become so accustomed to processions that you don’t recognise real racing anymore :)

      1. Honestly, FE has still around ten years to prove itself as serious series, it needs massive help from the battery developers. Now it’s more of a PR exercise and I would’t call driving around tight, twisty tracks, bumping to each other, “real racing.”

      2. @krommenaas, on the other hand, there are those who complain that what you might see as “real racing” is more like a glorified form of bumper cars, given how frequently drivers collide with each other.

        Even the series organisers are unhappy about the high level of physical contact and the fact that some drivers simply shove opponents out the way to get past them – to the point where they’re now considering making the cars less robust to discourage drivers from banging into their rivals to get past them.

        1. FE is far more refined than mere bumper cars. A better comparison would be indoor karting.

  3. Did Bird crash out? Looked to me like he got punted by Evans and then finished off by Wehrlein. Unlucky for him he seemed to be doing pretty well until then.

    Buemi coming across the track looked ridiculously dangerous. The penalties to both him and Da Costa were deserved.

    1. According to the commentary Wehrlein bit him @rocketpanda :-)

  4. Maybe there should be a rule like “no DRS under safety car” in F1, “no attack zone under safety car”?

    1. I think there is @sam3110 but the safety car had come in so going through before overtaking is allowed was a bit of a loophole.

  5. Formula E is definitely fun series to follow, but they desperately need to race on permanent circuits. These weak city circuit layouts are getting on my nerves.

    Happy to see Vandoorne on podium. He never had a fair chance in F1 when McLaren clearly was on Alonso’s side.

    1. To be fair, this is one of the worst tracks.

      This was Vandoorne’s 5th podium this year; 2 in WEC and 3 in FE.

    2. Stephen Higgins
      23rd November 2019, 20:47

      They need to race on proper slicks as well. The cars seem to have no grip at all.

      1. I think the issue was mostly the ridiculously dusty track.

    3. Until they find out how to significantly improve the battery performance, they will keep on racing in the streets, no doubt. A far bigger shame for me is that they’ll probably never adopt the “Grand Prix” format of the weekend with one major race, and that’s something that drives me away from this series (apart from fan boost and other things). I could never get into series with sprint races and weekends splitting the most significant action into “shows” with reverse grids, that’s just huge no. And I don’t see FE improving in this respect, rather I expect them to add still more gimmicks for the sake of “entertainment.”

      1. Formula e practically has the “Grand Prix” format though, in most weekend there is just one race. Only in the first and last race weekend they have two races, but both these races have a seperate qualifying so they don’t use things like reverse grids.

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