It will be Mercedes’ last season as a factory team in Formula E. Despite this, or perhaps because of it, the team is going full throttle and started the championship with a clear one-two on Saturday. On Sunday, however, Nyck de Vries also fought for victory for a long time, but was then pushed through to tenth place in an action-packed race.
Best grid position for Vandoorne
A new qualifying format was used for the first time in Diriyah, in which the drivers compete in head-to-head duels after a group phase. Stoffel set the third fastest time in Group A, while Nyck set the fastest lap time in Group B. Both then won their respective quarter-final duels and met head-to-head in the semifinals. Stoffel beat Nyck by four-tenths of a second to advance to the final. Nyck’s lap time from the semifinal earned him third on the grid. Stoffel won the final against Jake Dennis (Andretti), securing the sixth pole position in his Formula E career.
After the start, both Mercedes drivers were able to maintain their double lead after de Vries had moved up to P2. The E-Prix was interrupted by a safety car period 33 minutes before the regular end of the race as a result of an accident involving Oliver Rowland (Mahindra Racing). According to the new regulations, this meant that the race duration was extended by 5:15 minutes. Stoffel defended his lead at the start and retained this position until after the safety car period. Attempting to activate Attack Mode for the second time, he missed the activation zone and dropped to second behind Nyck.
De Vries benefits from Vandoorne’s mistake
Nyck got off to a strong start and passed Dennis right away. After taking the lead from Stoffel, he activated his second Attack Mode and defended his position to the finish line. It was Nyck’s third win in Formula E and his second in Diriyah. It was the fifth win in the all-electric racing series for the Mercedes-EQ Formula E team and also the second at the inaugural race in Saudi Arabia.
–> Nyck de Vries:
"That was a start to the season just the way I like it. A strong race with a strong points haul. After my mistake yesterday in the 1. Free practice, this result is a huge relief for me. We have the 2. Free practice used to prepare in the best possible way. After that we had a good qualifying and it’s a fantastic feeling to win the opening race here in Diriyah again – with a double victory to boot. It’s a great result for the team, for which I’m incredibly happy. We’ve worked hard over the winter to achieve this, but we also know that Formula E is a highly competitive championship. Already tomorrow we have to give everything again to be able to get a good result also in the second race of the season."
–> Stoffel Vandoorne:
"After my pole, I’m a bit disappointed with second place, of course, but I guess it’s not bad when you’re in a position to be disappointed with second place. I led the race from the start, had everything under control and the car had a strong pace today. Then I missed a loop when activating my second attack mode and thus gave the lead to Nyck. After that we pushed each other and were able to pull away from the chasers. A one-two is a great result for the team. After such a fantastic team result at the start of the season, you can’t be too disappointed. There will be another chance tomorrow. You can never let up in this series. It’s so close, as soon as you let up just a little, someone else is there to take advantage. Today’s result doesn’t mean it will automatically be the same tomorrow. That’s why we have to do our best on Saturday as well and then I, for my part, will try to do a bit better in the second race."
Pole position again on Sunday
It was an instructive day for the Mercedes-EQ Formula E team: after the team’s double victory in the season-opening race of the ABB FIA Formula E World Championship, Stoffel Vandoorne and Nyck de Vries finished seventh and tenth respectively in the second race in Diriyah.
Nyck set the fastest time in Group A in qualifying and advanced to the final with wins against Jean-Eric Vergne (DS Techeetah) and Lucas di Grassi (Venturi Racing). There he beat Edoardo Mortara (Venturi Racing) by five thousandths in an extremely close duel and secured his second pole position in Formula E. Stoffel started in group B and finished sixth in it. He started the E-Prix from twelfth on the grid.
–> Stoffel made up several positions in the early stages of the race and fought his way up into the top-10. He finished the race in P7 after a late safety car phase. Nyck led the E-Prix from pole position and was in the top group at the start of the final third of the race. After a contact with Vergne in turn 19, Nyck dropped back to 10th place, where he crossed the finish line.
Winning Mercedes engine
The race was won by Edoardo Mortara in the Mercedes-EQ Silver Arrow 02 (Venturi Racing), his teammate Lucas di Grassi also finished on the podium in third place. Venturi Racing (58 points) leads the team championship after the second round of the season ahead of Mercedes-EQ Formula E Team (57 points). The third round of the season of the ABB FIA Formula E World Championship 2021/22 will be held on 12. Held in Mexico City on February.
"We started from P12 today, so qualifying was my weak point. I wasn’t able to warm up the tires optimally on the second attempt and thus didn’t get the best out of the lap when it mattered most. That’s why I had to start from further back. From there we drove a decent race. I was able to show a good recovery to seventh place and also set the fastest race lap. Today was perhaps a little more difficult for us in terms of race pace than yesterday, but all in all it was a good race for me and my crew. This was the best we could come up with under the circumstances. Today it was all about damage limitation."
Nyck de Vries:
"All in all, we weren’t competitive enough today. In addition, we were perhaps a little too late in activating the Attack Mode and therefore fell back a bit. If you don’t have the pace then, it’s difficult. On top of that, I lost four or five positions after a contact. That was a pity. In the end it was up to us, because I think we were just not fast enough today. That shows again that things can still go wrong, even if you had a strong weekend up to that point. The window is very narrow and you can fall out very quickly."