Dawn of a new era for Mercedes-Benz EQ Formula E Team with successful debut in the ABB FIA Formula E Championship. Stoffel Vandoorne secured the team’s first podium in the first E-Prix ever contested by Mercedes-Benz in the history of the brand as Season 6 in the electric racing series got under way at Diriyah.
Stoffel started from the front row and even led the E-Prix during the final third segment of the race. As a result, he was able to post the first kilometres in the lead with the new Mercedes-Benz EQ Silver Arrow 01. However, with only a few minutes to go before the end of the race, Stoffel drove over the Attack Mode activation strips and lost a place when the safety car came out following an incident with Audi driver Daniel Abt. As a result, Stoffel did not benefit from his Attack Mode advantage and finished the race in third place.
For Mercedes, this was the brand’s maiden podium in their first race in the electric racing series and Stoffel’s second. His team-mate Nyck de Vries was also in the Top Three for two thirds of the race but finished sixth after 34 laps, taking his first points on his Formula E debut.
In the first qualifying session of a team history that has yet to be written, Stoffel and Nyck were able to progress through to this morning’s Super Pole, in which the Top Six qualifiers compete once again for the top positions on the grid. Stoffel posted the second-best lap time. Nyck in third place completed a strong result for the team.
And so, a Mercedes-Benz EQ Silver Arrow 01 was on the front row and started from Row 2 as it made its race debut. Mercedes was the only team to get both of its cars into Super Pole. The two drivers also booked the top two places in the fan boost vote (VAN: 21.27%, DEV: 15.21%).
The next race: The second race of the season will take place tomorrow, Saturday, at Diriyah’s 2.494-km circuit. The race will last for 45 minutes plus one lap as is normally the case for an E-Prix. However, unlike on Friday, drivers will only have one 45-minute practice session before qualifying on Saturday.
Comments after the Diriyah E-Prix 2019
Ian James (Team Principal):
“Wow, what a debut! Finishing third and sixth in our very first race is far more than we expected and a huge reward for the whole team. The race has shown that we have achieved a certain level of consistency for our cars over the last months.
But as you could see throughout, there is strong competition between all of the teams. Going at a fast pace, the field was really close from start to finish.
Still, I am certain that we will see a very different race tomorrow. It will be a fresh start for everyone. We need to stay focused and not be distracted by today’s rather very pleasing result.”
“First race, first podium! What an incredible achievement for the whole team! We’ve had a very busy time preparing for the season, and getting everything right was not always easy. Starting the season with a podium finish is just fantastic for all of us. Congratulations to every single person who helped! Since I’ve already spent a year contesting Formula E, I too was able to do my bit and am very proud of all the people involved. Of course, the good qualifying was a great way to start our first race weekend. We may have had a small advantage in that we were in one of the groups that went out later, but we still had to deliver, and we succeeded. It was not a perfect race, but that’s good. There’s still much that we can improve, but this was a better result than we expected on our debut.”
Nyck de Vries:
“What an amazing first race day – pole in the qualifying group, third place in the Super Pole, P6 in the race and Stoffel claimed a podium – we can be well satisfied with this result. We had a slight advantage in qualifying, as we were in Groups 3 and 4, but still, I’m delighted for the team that we are able to begin our adventure in such a positive way. I’m obviously a little disappointed that I did not finish behind Stoffel in the race. It might have been possible but for the contact with Andre Lotterer and the missed opportunity with the Attack Mode. That cost me 1.8 seconds. I was unable to use Attack Mode and had to try again, but all in all, we can be satisfied with the result. We now intend to go on working hard, because this was only the beginning.”