The first race of the 2021 Formula E World Championship started under the dark skies of Diriyah. This UNESCO World Heritage site is home to the fastest electric racing street circuit. After a magnificent qualifying, Nyck De Vries of Mercedes EQ took pole, qualifying six hundredths of a second faster than TAG Heuer Porsche driver Pascal Wehrlein, with Rene Rast of Audi in third. Title holders DS Techeetah sat way down the pack with last season’s champion Antonio Felix da Costa starting 18th on the grid with two-time champion Jean Eric Vergne behind da Costa in 19th. Tom Blomqvist, Nico Muller, and Robin Frijns rounded up the pack, starting 22nd, 23rd (Pit start), and 24th respectively.
Written by Hafiz Akbar, Edited by Daniel Yi
De Vries started the race very well, pulling away from Wehrlein after the German made a mistake coming into turn 1. Sergio Sette Camara was slapped with a drive-through penalty for not obeying Race Control commands just two minutes into the race. Nick Cassidy and Frijns were the earliest of the pack to activate attack mode. Tom Blomqvist was then awarded a drive-thru penalty after he exceeded regen limits. René Rast then took the opportunity to overtake Wehrlein and gain second place after the German went slightly off the racing line to activate his attack mode. Kiwi driver Mitch Evans then gained a position, thanks to Edoardo Mortara going off his racing line to activate his attack mode.
The first crash of the season involved Alex Lynn of Mahindra Racing and Sam Bird of Jaguar with Lynn having a DNF for this season opener. Sam Bird dropped down the ladder due to car damage and had to pit for a new nose. Andre Lotterer used this chance to pit under the safety car while Bird’s car had too much damage to continue racing, leading to his retirement and finishing with a DNF.
After the safety car went in and racing resumed, Max Guenther misjudged his trajectory coming into the bobsled corners and hit the wall, terminally damaging his rear left wheel and grounding his race to a halt. This brought the safety car out again late in the race. Mortara and Rast were then investigated for overtaking under safety car conditions.
Most of the grid triggered their second attack mode in the final four minutes just as the safety car came in. Three drivers earned Fanboost. Stoffel Vandoorne triggered his Fanboost the earliest, followed seconds after by Edoardo Mortara. Lucas Di Grassi was the last to activate his Fanboost.
After 45 minutes (+1 lap) of racing, Slick Nyck De Vries won the Diriyah E-Prix in dominant fashion, leading every single lap from lights out. Edoardo Mortara had an impressive drive and came in second with Mitch Evans completing the podium. The highlight of the race was Edoardo Mortara’s incredible double overtake on Evans and Wehrlein, cutting through the pair like a hot knife through butter.
It’s now too early to call who’s winning the 2021 Formula E championship since half the grid have been race winners and every race is unpredictable. However, this win may set De Vries to have a good run of results this season.