Formula E’s season-opener in Diriyah was, in many ways, a race of ‘firsts’ as some notable achievements were secured by a few drivers on the grid, while others will be keen to move on after extending some unwanted streaks. Here is your rundown of the 2021 Diriyah E-Prix in numbers…
Only 2 Dutchmen have raced in Formula E – Robin Frijns and Nyck de Vries – and both secured strong results at the season-opening doubleheader in Diriyah. Mercedes EQ driver de Vries secured both his first Formula E pole position (the first for a Dutch driver in the series) and his first win, with both coming in Race 1 after an impressive lights-to-flag drive. His compatriot Frijns secured pole position for Race 2 and it was the Envision Virgin driver’s first in Formula E at the 45th attempt.
Sam Bird scored his first win for Jaguar Racing in only his second race for the British team. His victory in Race 2 means he is now one of only three drivers to have won an E-Prix for more than one team (joining Jerome d’Ambrosio and Antonio Felix da Costa). Bird also equaled d’Ambrosio’s record for the least number of races before winning with his new team, as the Belgian previously had the record to himself having won in only his second race for Mahindra two seasons ago.
Perhaps most notably, Bird’s victory ensures he maintains his remarkable record of being the only driver in Formula E history to have won at least one race each season.
Bird’s new team Jaguar will be very encouraged by their start to the new season. It’s the first time they’ve scored a podium in each of the two rounds of a Formula E campaign, and the former Envision Virgin driver’s victory marks the earliest point in a season the British team have secured a win. Their 40 point haul from Diriyah means they lead the Formula E teams’ championship for the first time.
Dragon’s fourth and fifth-place finish in Race 2 was the first time they had scored points with both cars since the 2018 Punta del Este E-Prix, almost three years ago. It was also the first points finishes that either Nico Müller or Sérgio Sette Câmara have achieved thus far. The American team’s 22 points scored in Race 2 represents their largest single-race haul since they finished third and fourth at the 2016 London E-Prix.
While we’re on the subject of Dragon, it’s also worth mentioning that this (yes I realise we’re only two races in) is their equal best start to a Formula E season since Season 2 (2015-16) when they also had 22 points on the board after the opening two races. #Progress
NIO 333 also secured a positive start to their campaign in Diriyah with a 10th and sixth place for Oliver Turvey. With nine points on the board already, that’s the same total they collected from their previous 27 races combined stretching back as far as the 2018 Zurich E-Prix. Turvey’s points finish in Diriyah Race 1 was his first (and the team’s first) since he finished 10th in Race 1 of the 2019 New York City E-Prix.
Edo Mortara’s second-place finish for Venturi Racing in Race 1 marks a return to the podium for the Monegasque team after two disappointing seasons. It’s their first top-three finish since the 2019 Monaco E-Prix, and the first time ever they’ve reached the podium in the opening race of a Formula E season. For likable Swiss-Italian Mortara, it’s his first trip to the podium since he secured victory at the 2019 Hong-Kong E-Prix almost two years ago.
It was a disappointing start to the season for several drivers with some big names failing to register a point so far. Two-time champion Jean-Eric Vergne had secured a podium finish in Race 2, but that was later stripped from him as it was discovered that he’d failed to activate his second Attack Mode in the race.
That result means the DS Techeetah driver is pointless after two rounds for only the second team in his Formula E career (the other being the 2015-16 season while at DS Virgin).
Other drivers yet to score include Max Günther who was the only non-Techeetah driver to secure more than one race victory last season. His teammate, rookie Jake Dennis, also failed to score in the opening two rounds meaning BMW Andretti are so far the only team still yet to score a point this season.
Season 2 champion Sebastian Buemi is another big name leaving Diriyah without a point, and for the second season in succession. The Nissan e.dams driver probably won’t be too keen to return to Diriyah anytime soon, having also failed to score during last season’s doubleheader there as well.