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Bird beats Mercedes and Porsche in Saudia Arabia

Formula E season opener
Friday, November 22, 2019


Sam Bird gave Audi a win over its German rivals
Sam Bird gave Audi a win over its German rivals

Starting on Pole, BMW i Andretti Motorsport's Alex Sims pulled away as the lights went out on the season opener in Saudi Arabia, leaving both Mercedes-Benz EQ drivers Stoffel Vandoorne and Nyck de Vries in second and third. 

After five minutes, the ATTACK MODE activation zone opened up, with all 24 drivers now able to pass through the ATTACK MODE Activation Zone - located off the racing line - in order to pick up a 35kW power boost during the race.  

Just five minutes into the race, disaster struck for Nissan e.dams' Sebastien Buemi who stopped on track while the grid passed by. Unable to restart his car, the Swiss driver retired from the race. 

After a number of attempts from Envision Virgin Racing's Sam Bird to pass Rokit Venturi Racing's Edoardo Mortara and move towards a podium finish, the Brit passed the Swiss driver with 30 minutes left on the clock. 

Moving up from 16, Audi Sport Abt Schaeffler's Daniel Abt passed NIO 333's Oliver Turvey in a bid to improve the German manufacturers start to the season. Moments later, Mahindra Racing's Pascal Wehrlein (in 12th) clocked the fastest lap. 

Still locked into 11th, reigning champion and DS Techeetah driver Jean-Eric Vergne showed no sign of making his way into the points. With two titles to his name, the pressure is on for the Frenchman as he looks to clinch a third at the end of the 2019/20 season. 

Leading the way, Alex Sims kept the two Mercedes drivers at bay in his BWM as the German powerhouses battled for the win. Close behind was Sam Bird in his Audi-powered Envision Virgin Racing challenger, followed by TAG Heuer Porsche's Andre Lotterer in fourth. 

With 17 minutes left of the race, reigning champ Vergne retired, returning to the pits with damage to the front wheel of his car. 

Sims leads at the start but runs wide
Sims leads at the start but runs wide

Coming off the start/finish straight, a patient Vandoorne made his move on race leader Sims, taking the lead through Turn 18 and 19. At the same time, Bird attacked, passing Sims to move into second. Dropping back further still, Lotterer moved into third, knocking Sims off a potential podium finish.  

Not content with a second place finish, Bird attacked Vandoorne with ten minutes remaining. Taking the lead in his Audi-powered car, the Brit handed it to new entrants Mercedes and Porsche as Lotterer remained in third. 

After working his way up the grid, Nissan e.dams' Oliver Rowland advanced on Sims in fourth, passing the BMW driver with six minutes to spare. Coming into Turn 5, Audi's Daniel Abt failed to stop his car after a collision with Antonio Felix da Costa (BMW) and was left stranded after colliding with the wall. 

From left Wehrlein, Bird and Vandoorne
From left Wehrlein, Bird and Vandoorne
With only three minutes left, the BMW i8 Safety Car was deployed while the German's car was collected until the race restarted with just over a minute to go.

Bird, maintaining his lead, held out to collect the first win of the season after a spectacular race from the Envision Virgin Racing driver. Trailing the Brit in his Audi was Porsche's Andre Lotterer in second, followed by Mercedes' Stoffel Vandoorne in third.

Race Results

1Sam BirdVirginAudi46m17.371s
2Andre LottererPorschePorsche1.319s
3Stoffel VandoorneMercedesMercedes1.672s
4Oliver Rowlande.damsNissan1.944s
5Robin FrijnsVirginAudi3.983s
6Nyck de VriesMercedesMercedes4.560s
7Edoardo MortaraVenturiMercedes5.122s
8Alexander SimsBMWBMW5.715s
9Jerome d'AmbrosioMahindraMahindra6.628s
10Mitch EvansJaguarJaguar7.048s
11Pascal WehrleinMahindraMahindra7.460s
12Felipe MassaVenturiMercedes8.166s
13Lucas di GrassiAudiAudi8.404s
14Antonio Felix da CostaDS TecheetahDS8.853s
15Oliver TurveyNIONIO10.172s
16James CaladoJaguarJaguar11.572s
17Neel JaniPorschePorsche15.429s
18Max GuentherBMWBMW25.662s
19Brendon HartleyDragonPenske42.219s
20Ma Qing HuaNIONIO1 Lap
DNFDaniel AbtAudiAudiDNF
DNFJean-Eric VergneDS TecheetahDSDNF
DNFSebastien Buemie.damsNissanDNF
DNSNico MullerDragonPenskeDNS

Drivers Championship

1Sam Bird26
2Andre Lotterer18
3Stoffel Vandoorne15
4Oliver Rowland12
5Robin Frijns10
6Nyck de Vries8
7Alexander Sims7
8Edoardo Mortara6
9Jerome d'Ambrosio2
10Mitch Evans2

Team Championship

1Envision Virgin Racing36
2Mercedes-Benz EQ Formula E Team23
3TAG Heuer Porsche Formula E Team18
4Nissan e.Dams12
5BMW i Andretti Motorsport7
6Venturi Racing6
7Mahindra Racing2
8Panasonic Jaguar Racing2
9Audi Sport ABT Schaeffler0
10DS Techeetah0
11NIO 333 FE Team0
12Geox Dragon0


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