Antonio Felix da Costa held off a late-charging Jean-Eric Vergne to record the first victory of Formula E’s new Gen2 era at the 2018/19 season-opening Ad Diriyah E-Prix.

Polesitter da Costa led throughout the opening stages and despite briefly losing the lead of the inaugural Formula E race in Saudi Arabia to reigning champion Vergne, he regained the place when the Techeetah pair were handed drive-through penalties for technical infringements.

Vergne, who had pulled off a stunning around-the-outside pass to snatch the lead from da Costa at Turn 1 earlier in the race, recovered brilliantly to find himself on the tail of da Costa’s BMW Andretti in the closing minutes after a late Safety Car bunched the field up.

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But the Portuguese driver held firm to claim BMW’s maiden win in the all-electric series and his first since the 2015 Buenos Aires E-Prix, finishing just 0.462s clear of Vergne, as Jerome d’Ambrosio took third place on the podium for new his team Mahindra.

Behind the top three came Jaguar’s Mitch Evans, the second recovering Techeetah of Lotterer and Sebastien Buemi. The Nissan e.dams driver made a strong start to sit second in the early stages but later faded and dropped to sixth.

Oliver Rowland impressed in just his second Formula E race as he charged from 14th on the grid to take seventh, ahead of the Audi pair of Daniel Abt and season three champion Lucas di Grassi, and Nelson Piquet Jr, who scored the final point on offer for Jaguar in 10th.

Mahindra stand-in Felix Rosenqvist, HWA's Gary Paffett and front-row starter Jose Maria Lopez all retired from the first race of the new campaign. Lopez was the cause of the late Safety Car period after he ground to a halt with suspension damage on his Dragon machine.

As a result of his win, da Costa holds an early 10-point lead over Vergne in the 2018/19 championship standings. The second round of season five takes place in Marrakesh on January 12. 

Formula E Ad Diriyah E-Prix Race Results 

 

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