Da Costa holds off Vergne to win Formula E opener

Antonio Felix da Costa

Antonio Felix da Costa has staved off a resurgent Jean-Eric Vergne after a late restart to win Race 1 of the Formula E season in Riyadh.

Da Costa crossed the finish line 0.462s ahead of the defending champion after 33 laps under the new time-certain format.

Jerome d’Ambrosio also got onto the podium, one position ahead of New Zealander Mitch Evans.

Da Costa led the field away from pole in his BMW Andretti entry while Vergne, who started fifth, took over second position when he rounded up Sebastien Buemi (Nissan e.dams) on Lap 9.

The Portuguese driver’s lead was over 1.5s at that point and grew over two seconds until Vergne was nipping at his heels at the end of Lap 13.

Vergne then pulled off something of a repeat of his pass on Buemi when he overtook da Costa at Turn 18 on Lap 14.

His DS Techeetah team-mate Andre Lotterer, who had climbed from seventh on the grid, got by da Costa on the main straight.

However, his time in second was short-lived as both Techeetahs were called for drive-throughs due to power limit breaches.

That left da Costa with a comfortable advantage over d’Ambrosio (Mahindra) until Jose Maria Lopez (Dragon) stopped on track with broken suspension, which eventually led to a Safety Car.

Vergne, who dropped back as low as fifth after his penalty, took the restart in third, at which time he used the new Attack Mode to pass d’Ambrosio.

He closed up on da Costa on the final lap but couldn’t find a way by.

Behind d’Ambrosio and Evans (Jaguar) was Lotterer, who recovered two positions after his drive-through, while Buemi dropped from fourth to sixth in the four laps after the Safety Car having had to conserve power.

Debutant Felipa Massa crossed the finish line in 14th but was issued time penalties for Fanboost offences and ultimately classified 17th.

The Venturi driver, who also took a drive-through for a power limit infringement, activated Fanboost too early and used too much energy when he did so.

With an extra three points for pole, da Costa leads Vergne by 10 points ahead of Race 2 in Marrakech on January 12.

Meanwhile, Evans’ older brother Simon won the inaugural Jaguar I-Pace eTrophy support race in lights-to-flag fashion.

Race results: Race 1, Riyadh

Pos Driver Team Laps Race time/Split
1 António Félix da Costa BMW i Andretti Motorsport 33 46:29.377
2 Jean-Éric Vergne DS Techeetah 33 +0.462
3 Jérôme d’Ambrosio Mahindra Racing 33 +4.033
4 Mitch Evans Panasonic Jaguar Racing 33 +5.383
5 André Lotterer DS Techeetah 33 +5.579
6 Sébastien Buemi Nissan e.dams 33 +6.625
7 Oliver Rowland Nissan e.dams 33 +9.105
8 Daniel Abt Audi Sport Abt Schaeffler 33 +9.819
9 Lucas di Grassi Audi Sport Abt Schaeffler 33 +10.936
10 Nelson Piquet Jnr Panasonic Jaguar Racing 33 +11.564
11 Sam Bird Envision Virgin Racing 33 +11.747
12 Robin Frijns Envision Virgin Racing 33 +12.189
13 Oliver Turvey NIO Formula E Team 33 +13.104
14 Tom Dillmann NIO Formula E Team 33 +14.273
15 Maximilian Günther Geox Dragon 33 +16.161
16 Stoffel Vandoorne HWA Racelab 33 +20.013
17 Felipe Massa Venturi Formula E Team 33 +43.610
18 Alexander Sims BMW i Andretti Motorsport 33 +47.712
19 Edoardo Mortara Venturi Formula E Team 32 +1 Lap
DNF Felix Rosenqvist Mahindra Racing 25
DNF Gary Paffett HWA Racelab 9
DNF José María López Geox Dragon 8

Drivers’ championship

Pos Driver Pts
1 António Félix da Costa 28
2 Jean-Éric Vergne 18
3 Jérôme d’Ambrosio 15
4 Mitch Evans 12
5 André Lotterer 11
6 Sébastien Buemi 8
7 Oliver Rowland 6
8 Daniel Abt 4
9 Lucas di Grassi 2
10 Nelson Piquet Jnr 1
11 Sam Bird 0
12 Robin Frijns 0
13 Oliver Turvey 0
14 Felipe Massa 0
15 Tom Dillmann 0
16 Maximilian Günther 0
17 Stoffel Vandoorne 0
18 Alexander Sims 0
19 Edoardo Mortara 0
20 Felix Rosenqvist 0
21 Gary Paffett 0
22 José María López 0

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