ABB FIA Formula E Championship is now underway and Mahindra Racing team has had a flying start in the opening race. Jerome D’Ambrosio made his Mahindra Racing debut this year and finished third in the very first race of the Formula E season. The 2018/19 season opener in Saudi Arabia marked the series’ first ever race in the Middle East plus the debut of the new Generation 2 cars.
The SAUDIA Ad Diriyah E-Prix had a disrupted start to the day when unexpected heavy rain forced organisers to cancel Free Practice 1 and delay Free Practice 2. Due to the timing delay, the qualifying format was then amended to two groups of 11 drivers, rather than the usual four groups, and Super Pole was called off.
In the wet qualifying session, on a drying track, Jerome D’Ambrosio went out in Group A and set the fastest lap time of 1:19.077, securing a sixth-place start. Felix Rosenqvist headed out in Group B but was unable to complete his qualifying lap, due to a mechanical failure on the car which resulted in an accident when he was on course for a top-six time and was forced to begin the race from 17th on the grid.
Jerome was able to comfortably maintain position at the start and, on lap 21, overtook Sebastien Buemi to move up to fifth. A lap later Jean-Eric Vergne and Andre Lotterer were handed drive-through penalties for technical infringements, pitting from first and second, which moved Jerome up into the top three behind Antonio Felix Da Costa and Jose Mario Lopez.
On lap 23 Jerome overtook Lopez for the second position and was running comfortably there until a safety car bunched up the pack. On lap 30, after the restart, reigning Champion Vergne overtook him, putting him P3, the position in which he took the chequered flag after 33 laps to secure his and Mahindra Racing’s first podium of the 2018/19 season.
Unfortunately, it was a different state of affairs for Felix. Despite an impressive start which saw him move up to 14th by the end of the first lap and then overtake Gary Paffett and Nelson Piquet Jr by lap 6, which saw him in reach of points, he was forced to retire the #94 on lap 8 after suffering the same technical issue that halted his qualifying run.
The second round of the 2018/19 ABB FIA Formula E Championship will take place on 12 January 2019 in Marrakesh, Morocco.