Ad Diriyah E-Prix: Mahindra starts new season with podium
New Mahindra Racing recruit Jerome d’Ambrosio scored a podium finish in the opening round of the ABB FIA Formula E series in Riyadh.
D’Ambrosio had originally qualified in ninth position for the Ad Diriyah E-Prix, but was promoted to sixth on the grid after a raft of drivers were handed post-qualifying penalties.
D’Ambrosio lost out early to DS Techeetah’s Andre Lotterer in the race, but regained sixth after passing former Formula 1 driver Stoffel Vandoorne (HWA).
He subsequently overtook Sebastien Buemi and then gained two further places when Techeetah drivers Jean-Eric Vergne and Andre Lotterer were penalised for technical infringements.
He later reeled in former teammate Jose Maria Lopez when the Dragon Racing driver missed the Attack Mode activation zone, which is placed off the racing line.
However, just when a second place result seemed certain, Lopez stopped on track with an apparent technical issue, necessitating a safety car to assist the retrieval of his car.
D’Ambrosio’s Attack Mode was active when the SC was deployed, meaning he was unable to take full advantage of the additional power boost.
And in a double whammy, Vergne, who had served his penalty and was running right behind d'Ambrosio, had one of his Attack Mode usages still remaining.
With the extra power, Vergne was able to breeze past d’Ambrosio and even fight for victory, while d’Ambrosio had to settle for third.
Nevertheless, it was a fantastic result for the Belgian driver and the Mahindra team, which secured its first podium finish since last year’s Marrakesh E-Prix.
The race also marked a successful start to d’Ambrosio’s Mahindra tenure. The Belgian had been racing with Dragon since Formula E’s first season in 2014/15, but moved to Mahindra for the first season of the Gen2 era.
While d’Ambrosio scored a podium, there was disappointment on the other side of the garage as Felix Rosenqvist was forced to retire in the opening laps with what appeared to be a technical issue.
The Swede, who has scored all three of Mahindra wins so far, will be replaced by former F1 racer Pascal Wehrlein for the rest of the season.
Up at the front, BMW’s Antonio Felix da Costa claimed the race win after resisting a last-lap attack from Vergne.
Podium: race winner Antonio Felix da Costa, BMW I Andretti Motorsports, second place, Jean-Eric Vergne, DS TECHEETAH, third place, Jérôme d'Ambrosio, Mahindra Racing
Photo by: Andrew Ferraro / LAT Images
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