Nyck de Vries took victory in the opening race of the Valencia E-Prix on Saturday amid chaotic scenes were the majority of the field ran out of usable energy in the closing laps following a late safety car.
Ahead of the weekend in Spain, there were fears that energy saving was going to be extremely difficult, and it proved to be in Saturday’s race, with only a handful of drivers made it to the chequered flag.
For much of the race, DS Techeetah’s António Félix da Costa looked as though he had his first victory of the season, but a miscalculation when it came to energy saw him drop down the order in the final couple of laps, with the Portuguese racer ultimately ending over a minute behind de Vries in seventh.
De Vries and the Mercedes-EQ Formula E Team appeared to get their calculations worked out better than most, with the Dutchman sweeping into the lead on the final lap. He crossed the line with minimal energy left, but it was better than some.
Oliver Rowland finished second on the road for Nissan e.dams, but he, like third placed Alexander Sims of Mahindra Racing were both disqualified from the results for using too much energy. It is the second race in a row where stewards have immediately disqualified drivers after Norman Nato lost a podium place in race two of the Rome E-Prix two weeks ago.
This promoted Dragon/Penske Autosport’s Nico Müller into a surprise second spot, 13.128 seconds behind de Vries, while third went, eventually, to Mercedes’ Stoffel Vandoorne, despite the Belgian having started at the back of the grid following his disqualification from Qualifying.
Drivers behind Vandoorne were all struggling to get to the chequered flag, with Nick Cassidy taking fourth place for Envision Virgin Racing, while Audi Sport Abt Schaeffler’s René Rast was fifth, over fifty seconds away from the race winner, just ahead of Robin Frijns (Envision Virgin Racing).
Behind Félix da Costa, the points-paying positions were completed by Mahindra Racing’s Alex Lynn, Jaguar Racing’s Sam Bird and Audi’s Lucas di Grassi.
Félix da Costa had controlled the race up until then, staying ahead through mixed weather conditions and when the race was interrupted by incidents. The race started behind the safety car as rain fell at the Circuit Ricardo Tormo, and it was not long before it was out again as Sébastien Buemi (Nissan e.dams) found himself beached in the gravel trap after he was tipped into a spin by André Lotterer (TAG Heuer Porsche FE Team) at turn nine.
The race resumed but only briefly as Maximilian Günther spun out at turn two, ending a promising day for the BMW i Andretti Motorsport driver. A third intervention was then needed after Sérgio Sette Câmara (Dragon/Penske Autosport) and Mitch Evans (Jaguar Racing) collided at turn nine. At a similar time, Müller and Vandoorne collided at the same corner, earning the latter a five-second time penalty.
The final safety car was caused when Lotterer collided with ROKiT Venturi Racing’s Edoardo Mortara, but it was the recalculation of energy after this period that caused havoc. Félix da Costa went into the final lap with under one per cent of energy remaining, so it was advantage de Vries as he took over the lead and took the victory.
Vandoorne’s third place moves him up to the lead of the Championship standings ahead of de Vries, who is now the first two-time winner in 2021 after his victory in the Diriyah E-Prix in February.
|1||17||Nyck de Vries||NED||Mercedes-EQ Formula E Team||48:20.547|
|2||6||Nico Muller||CHE||Dragon/Penske Autosport||+13.128|
|3||5||Stoffel Vandoorne||BEL||Mercedes-EQ Formula E Team||+24.886|
|4||37||Nick Cassidy||NZL||Envision Virgin Racing||+36.903|
|5||33||Rene Rast||GER||Audi Sport Abt Schaeffler||+51.650|
|6||4||Robin Frijns||NED||Envision Virgin Racing||+52.985|
|7||13||Antonio Felix da Costa||POR||DS Techeetah||+1:09.538|
|8||94||Alex Lynn||GBR||Mahindra Racing||+1:33.405|
|9||10||Sam Bird||GBR||Jaguar Racing||+1:36.009|
|10||11||Lucas di Grassi||BRZ||Audi Sport Abt Schaeffler||+2:11.946|
|11||27||Jake Dennis||GBR||BMW i Andretti Motorsport||+1 Lap|
|12||25||Jean-Eric Vergne||FRA||DS Techeetah||+1 Lap|
|DSQ||22||Oliver Rowland||GBR||Nissan e.DAMS||Disqualified|
|DSQ||29||Alexander Sims||GBR||Mahindra Racing||Disqualified|
|RET||8||Oliver Turvey||GBR||NIO 333 FE Team||Retired|
|RET||88||Tom Blomqvist||GBR||NIO 333 FE Team||Retired|
|RET||71||Norman Nato||FRA||ROKIT Venturi Racing||Retired|
|RET||48||Edoardo Mortara||CHE||ROKIT Venturi Racing||Retired|
|RET||99||Pascal Wehrlein||GER||TAG Heuer Porsche Formula E Team||Retired|
|RET||36||Andre Lotterer||GER||TAG Heuer Porsche Formula E Team||Retired|
|RET||20||Mitch Evans||NZL||Jaguar Racing||Retired|
|RET||7||Sergio Sette Camara||BRZ||Dragon/Penske Autosport||Retired|
|RET||28||Maximilian Gunther||GER||BMW i Andretti Motorsport||Retired|
|RET||23||Sebastien Buemi||CHE||Nissan e.DAMS||Retired|