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Diriyah Friday Notebook

Sam Smith’s first post-race notebook from the Diriyah paddock on Friday evening…..

Photo: Formula E

***Stoffel Vandoorne said that the key moment on his way to achieving a debut podium for the Mercedes-Benz EQ Formula E Team was clearing pole sitter and early race leader Alexander Sims.

“The crucial part for me was to get past Sims when Sam was behind me in Attack Mode,” said the Belgian. “I knew I had to clear him and try to stay in front. But then I knew it was going to be tricky to keep the lead with Sam already having taken the Attack Mode.”

***Alexander Sims’ promising start to the race from his second Formula E pole position was soon largely nullified by difficulties with his BMW iFE 2.0 hitting its energy targets.

“We were overconsuming if we kept the pace with the others, and if we didn’t, then we were slow and prone to being overtaken,” Sims told e-racing365.

***Maximilian Guenther fell foul of the first FIA throttle-map penalty during the race. E-racing365 first reported the homologated throttle map declarations last month. The resulting drive-through cost the BMW i Andretti Motorsport driver a likely points finish on his debut for the team.

***Both Brendan Hartley and Ma Qinghua were also later handed out penalties for the same offense and took a drive-through penalty and post-race added time penalty respectively.

***Edoardo Mortara claimed the first points for the newly-named ROKiT Venturi Racing with a seventh-place finish. However, the Swiss-Italian driver was frustrated after the race due to missing the Attack Zone transponder loops and losing three positions after a strong opening phase to the race.

***Mahindra boss Dilbagh Gill said that his team did not employ the right Attack Mode strategies today, particularly on Pascal Wehrlein’s car finished in 11th position.

“Pascal made a small mistake in qualifying and also lost track time in the first session with a problem but his pace in the race was good for a while,” Gill told e-racing365. “We just made some mistakes in strategy in the attack [mode’s] but we will go again tomorrow and make sure it is right then.”

***Daniel Abt’s difficult Friday was compounded with a €4100 fine and two penalty points for speeding in the pitlane.

***Abt said that he was blinded by the rising sun as he exited the pits and was unable to see the speed limiter read-out on his Audi’s steering wheel. The German driver later crashed out of the race after contact with Antonio Felix Da Costa’s DS Techeetah dislodged his front-wing.

***In addition to a poor starting position by way of being in the disadvantaged first qualifying group, Audi Sport ABT Schaeffler’s Lucas di Grassi also rued a compromised race strategy call.

“It looked like everybody was more or less on the same pace, and then just a matter of losing Attack Mode in the right moment,” Di Grassi told e-racing365. “It was very difficult to overtake everybody with the same pace. I was trying to save energy, so I finished up with a lot of energy, so my strategy didn’t really play off very well.”

***Sebastien Buemi was an early retirement from the race when his Nissan IM02 stopped after an alarm was sounded in the cockpit for low water pressure. Despite several re-cycles of the powertrain, Buemi was only able to tour around to the pits and park his car.

Nissan’s Michael Carcamo spoke to e-racing365 after the race: “It looks to me as some kind of electrical issue. We hadn’t had any other problems all weekend, even in Valencia, so it’s definitely intermittent or something that we haven’t seen before.

***Nico Mueller was originally forced to start his first-ever E-Prix from the rear of the grid after having his qualifying time canceled due to the GEOX Dragon team breaking the parc ferme procedures. The team left the area ahead of other cars in the rush to get the car repaired after the Swiss driver glanced the wall.

***In the event however Muller did not start at all as the team were unable to complete repairs on the left side of the car from the accident in sufficient time. Team manager Gary Holland confirmed to e-racing365 that “a precautionary gearbox change has been made ahead of tomorrow”.

***Panasonic Jaguar Racing picked up two points for Mitch Evans’ 10th place and fastest lap but the Kiwi rued his compromised qualifying effort on the gripless track in group one.

“Salvaging some points is reasonably satisfying and I can walk out of the track knowing we got some points on the board,” Evans told e-racing365. “We have to capitalize on being in Group Two tomorrow and make sure can score some big points.”

***Reigning Formula E champion Jean-Eric Vergne’s disastrous first race of the 2019-20 campaign, which saw him retire with a suspected blocked steering rack, was compounded with a reprimand and penalty point for speeding in the pit lane when he came in to retire his car.

***The decision to shorten the Jaguar I-PACE eTROPHY qualifying session this morning was, according to an official bulletin, due to ‘a case of Force Majeure concerning safety measures on the circuit.’ This referred to the wall at T4 being moved to bypass asphalt around a drainage cover.

***The series has a new race director for its sophomore season as Pierre Delettre has taken charge. Several drivers expressed surprise after the session and were not directly informed as the decision was communicated after the session had begun.

***Alice Powell said her race to a maiden podium position in the Jaguar I-PACE eTROPHY was slightly tempered by not being able to challenge reigning champion Sergio Jimenez more for second position, after she missed the attack zone transponder loops.

“I’m a bit gutted I missed the attack mode as I went through but just pushed a bit early,” Powell told e-racing365. “It was still good to see we had the pace though and tomorrow hopefully we can qualify a bit better and get another decent result.”

***Reema Juffali said that her drive with the Jaguar I-PACE eTROPHY, which saw her become the first female Saudi Arabian driver to race in an international series in her home country, can act as an inspiration to new generations of women racers.

“What I would say to young girls is that there is no limit to the career path you want to take and if it is something unconventional put yourself out there, take that step, trust in yourself and believe in it and you will get there and it will come with hard work,” said Juffali, who was speaking at the FIA Girls on Track event held at the Diriyah circuit on Thursday evening.

***Among well-known faces seen in the Diriyah paddock on Friday were former F1 team boss Flavio Briatore, 1972 and 1974 F1 World Champion Emerson Fittipaldi and Chairman of the Motorsports Association and Prodrive Chairman David Richards.

***Saturday’s track action begins with a Free Practice session at 8:45 a.m. local time (12:45 a.m. ET; 5:45 a.m. GMT).

Sam Smith is e-racing365's Formula E Editor. A 20-year veteran in motorsports media, including press officer roles in both the FIA Sportscar Championship and at Lola Group, Smith is a well-known face in the Formula E paddock, where he served as series editor for from 2014-17. Contact Sam

1 Comment

1 Comment

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    Old Tromboe

    November 23, 2019 at 11:36 am

    Among the famous and important were Fittipaldi, theFlav, & “Aston” Richards, with all forming the entourage for Sam Smith – the reporter’s reporter, journalists’ journo! These Stars, of course, are breathlessly hoping to get your mention. Thanks again Sir Sam, Looking forward to your excellence again this season.

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