Antonio Félix da Costa started from pole and went on to win the closely contested ABB Formula E Season 5 opener in Ad Dirayah, Saudi Arabia. It was his first win in the series since 2015, and was the first win in the first-ever race for the new BMW i Andretti team and the BMW iFE18. Alexander Sims, running his first Formula E race, ran as high as eighth in the second iFE18, but two penalties for technical violations set him back to eighteenth at the end of the 45-minute-plus-one-lap race.
Félix da Costa led from the pole until defending champion Jean-Eric Vergne, racing for DS Techeetah this season, got by him on lap fourteen. Vergne’s Techeetah teammate Andre Lotterer soon followed, passing Félix da Costa to get into second. But then both Techeetah drivers had to serve drive-through penalties for going over the maximum allowed power when using regen, and the BMW racer retook the lead.
A full-course caution period to remove a wounded car cut Félix da Costa’s substantial edge. Not long before the caution period Vergne had recovered from his penalty stop to move into third. When the track went green there were just 3 ½ minutes remaining; both Félix da Costa and Vergne enabled the attack mode, a new feature this season that provides an extra burst of power for up to four minutes, just before the track went green. Vergne got by second place runner Jerome d’Ambrosio just after the drop of the green flag and moved up to challenge Félix da Costa. But the BMW racer held on to win by just over .4 seconds.
BMW Motorsport director Jens Marquardt said, “First race for our BMW i drivetrain, first pole position, first win—it’s just incredible! Big thanks go to the entire development team of BMW i and BMW Motorsport in Munich. Together you did an incredible job! And of course, congratulations to António and everyone in the BMW i Andretti Motorsport team. I’m very proud of the whole team. There’s no better way to end the 2018 motorsport year, and you would be hard pushed to have a better start to a new project and a new season.”
The second race of the new season will be run on January 12 in Marrakech, Morocco. —Brian Morgan