Supreme Sims claims maiden Formula E victory in Ad Diriyah

Alexander Sims completed a brilliant pole to flag race to win Saturday’s race 2 of the Ad Diriyah double header, leading home BMW i Andretti teammate Maximillian Guenther and the Audi of Lucas di Grassi.

That is the way it finished as the chequered flag fell after 45 minutes plus one extra lap of racing. But, after a stewards enquiry, the results were later amended, meaning Guenther lost his podium finish having been adjudged to have passed Stoffel Vandoorne under a Safety Car period.

It meant that German Guenther dropped to 11th overall, handing second place to di Grassi with Vandoorne third. With Oliver Turvey also disqualified from eighth place for using more than his alloted battery allowance, the revised standings sees Edoardo Mortara fourth, ahead of Oliver Rowland, Daniel Abt and James Calado.

After a potentially disastrous weekend, reigning champion Jean-Eric Vergne salvaged an eight-place finish despite starting from the back of the grid as a result of a battery change, Brendon Hartley and Antonio Felix da Costa rounding off the points scoring finishers.

It was a tactically astute race from the BMW team and driver Sims, the Englishman learning from Friday’s mistakes when he utilised Attack Mode at inopportune moments that cost him the lead of the race and several places.

Having secured an impressive third consecutive pole, Sims was on fine form on this occasion, and now takes the lead of the ABB Formula Championship from fellow Brit Sam Bird who, after the highs of Friday’s victory, crashed into retirement after the contact with Mitch Evans’ Jaguar.

“From what I could see, we seemed to execute everything really well,” said Sims after taking his maiden Formula E victory. “We made the right decisions at the right times, energy consumption was good, it just all went smoothly today. I’ve been doing this for twenty years, so it’s not something you get too pent up about. You’ve got to get on with doing your job, try and forget about any distractions that get into your head but crossing that line was an amazing feeling.

“All of last season and yesterday, there were so many lessons learned and still continue learning in the future but I know the whole effort the team’s put into this, they’ve stuck with me through tough times last year, and now to deliver a win is pretty cool.”

Alexander Sims (GBR) BMW I Andretti Motorsports, 1st position

As with Friday’s opening race, Sims made a good start from pole, keeping the Nissan of Buemi and di Grassi behind, da Costa up to fourth after taking Evans’ Jaguar with Bird fifth.

Having lost places from the front by running wide and using Attack Mode at an inopportune time on Friday, Sims’ new tactic was to open up a big gap immediately, although also risking energy in doing so.

This time, Sims had the gap to utilise his first Attack Mode without losing out, Bird taking his opportunity to dive down the inside of Evans and up to fourth.

Rather than lose time, Sims was on the money, dialling in fastest laps as behind him, da Costa misjudged his braking, nudging Buemi into a spin with the Nissan possibly about to utilise Attack Mode.

Then the big incident of the race. With 25 minutes remaining, da Costa dived down the inside of di Grassi and up to second as behind them, contact between Bird and Evans put the Envision Virgin out of the race with the Jaguar driver landing a penalty for his part in the accident.

When the dust, quite literally, settled and racing began in earnest once again, Sims utilised his second Attack Mode at the perfect time, Guenther unfairly gaining places just before the Safety Car pulled in.

The drama was not over yet. From second on the track, da Costa was then slapped with a drive through penalty for causing the earlier collision with Buemi, dropping the DS TECHEETAH down to tenth from a potential podium, Buemi also gaining a penalty for an unsafe rejoin.

Then, another accident and another Safety Car, Frijns joining teammate Bird into retirement in losing the back end of his car and ploughing into the wall. It capped a miserable day for Envision Virgin team after the highs of Friday, but that is typical of Formula E.

It made for another exciting race to the flag. Di Grassi lost two places from second in running wide to activate Attack Mode, Sims maintaining his lead from Guenther and Vandoorne. With the extra 35 kW of power available, the Brazilian made the move stick on the Mercedes, but couldn’t muscle his way past Guenther by the finish.

Fraser Masefield

Sports news and features writer, web editor and author.

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