It was a sweet-and-sour start of Season Seven for DS TECHEETAH in Diriyah, Saudi Arabia, a race that will go down in the history of Formula E as the first one to run under the FIA World Championship status and the first-ever night race of the series. The reigning champions, despite an impressive charge in the final laps, narrowly missed the points with António Félix Da Costa finishing 11th and Jean-Éric Vergne 15th.
Both drivers paid the toll of having to start from the second half of the grid, in 18th and 19th position respectively. This was partly the consequence of having to qualify in the first group, at a time when the track was much slower due to the sand, and of a strategic option that didn’t prove fruitful.
In the race, the DS E-Tense FE20, the same package that took both the Teams’ and Drivers’ titles last year, gained a couple of positions in the first part of the race but overtaking proved challenging on the narrow 2.494 km track in Saudi Arabia. The central part of the race was characterised by two safety-car periods almost in a sequence, with no more than six minutes of race time left when the second green flag was waved. With a great charge in the closing laps, Da Costa managed to take 11th and Vergne 15th.
The second E-Prix of the 2021 ABB FIA Formula E World Championship will be staged tomorrow in the UNESCO World Heritage site.
Mark Preston, DS TECHEETAH Team Principal:
“Today wasn’t the day we hoped for but after a mistake in the qualifying session, both drivers did really well to get up to P11 and P15 in the end. It proved that we have good performance in the cars, which is good news for tomorrow. These guys don’t give up easily, so we are expecting them to come back stronger tomorrow.”
Xavier Mestelan Pinon, DS Performance Director:
“Unfortunately, we didn’t score any points in the season opener, but what’s most important and key to remember, is that what truly matter is how you finish the championship, not how you start it. What is noteworthy from today is the performance of the car today, both in qualifying and in race mode. Both drivers managed to climb a substantial amount of place. Tomorrow, António and JEV will be in Groups Two and Three in qualifying and we have all chances to do well. And as I often say, we’re here to win!”
Antonio Felix da Costa, Reigning Formula E Champion and DS TECHEETAH Driver:
“It wasn’t easy starting in Group One, especially here so close to the desert as we tend to see a lot of sand on the track. Qualifying was difficult, but in the race we managed to fight our way through the pack and I was still able to finish 11th starting from 18th. We had a strong pace, but not strong enough to win today. Nevertheless, tomorrow is another day and we’ll try to do better, hopefully a podium!”
Jean-Eric Vergne, Double Formula E Champion and DS TECHEETAH Driver:
“Racing at night was cool, there is a very good lighting, the visibility was just as good as when we race during the day which is very impressive. The race was tough, we didn’t have quite what we were looking for today, but we have been here before and we know what to do to rectify it. Tomorrow is a new day and we will do everything that we can do get ahead.”