Sam Bird with the Envision Virgin Racing team clinched the first victory on the debut for the Audi e-tron FE06 in the Formula E season opener. Daniel Abt and Lucas di Grassi from the Audi Sport ABT Schaeffler factory team had a difficult start and finished without points in Diriyah. Tomorrow, they will have a new chance: the next race on the outskirts of Riyadh starts at 3 PM (CET).
With a riveting race marked by plenty of tactics, the new Formula E season kicked off in Diriyah on Friday. For the first time since the series started, the Audi Sport ABT Schaeffler factory team with Daniel Abt and Lucas di Grassi finished without points in the opening race of the season. Due to its strong championship positions last season, the German-Brazilian pairing had to go out on the still very dusty track in the first two qualifying groups and were only able to achieve the fifteenth and nineteenth place on the grid.
In the race, di Grassi made up six places to finish thirteenth. Daniel Abt was also fighting back, when he was touched by a rival which damaged his front wing causing him to hit the wall. Instead of scoring points, he had to settle for the fastest race lap as a small personal highlight. The first in a total of fourteen races on five continents and in nine capital cities was won by Audi’s customer team Envision Virgin Racing with the newly developed Audi e-tron FE06.
“Obviously, we would have wished for a different beginning to the season for Daniel and Lucas,” says Team Principal Allan McNish. “Both of them had to qualify in the first two groups due to their excellent results in the previous season. They went on to make the best of their difficult start, but even so, remained without points. We are going to work hard as tomorrow is a new race day and we are all very motivated to start fighting back.”
A new chance for points and trophies will already present itself tomorrow (Saturday): The second race this season on the 2.494-kilometer circuit on the outskirts of Riyadh starts at 3 PM (CET). Because they remained without points in the first race, Lucas di Grassi will qualify in group three and Daniel Abt in group four. Later groups are regarded as more advantageous, because the track becomes cleaner and thus faster in the course of qualifying.