Ex-Formula 1 driver Felipe Massa’s Formula E debut was marred by a series of penalties handed out during the inaugural Ad Diriyah E-Prix. 

The Venturi driver made a strong start and was challenging for the lower reaches of the top 10 in the early stages of the 2018/19 season opener in Saudi Arabia but finished 14th on the road after receiving a drive-through penalty due to his team failing to adhere to “the Formula E season five battery software implementation guide version 5.1”. 

Massa was one of five drivers voted to be recipients of Fanboost, though the Brazilian was handed a five-second time penalty for activating the system before the 22nd minute of the race, which is the earliest time it can be used during the new 45-minute plus one lap race format introduced for season five. 

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The former Ferrari and Williams grand prix driver also fell foul of using 150KJ of energy instead of the permitted 100KJ limit while Fanboost is being activated, meaning he was hit with a second time penalty worth 25 seconds - the equivalent of a drive-through penalty. 

As a result, Massa, who also received one penalty point on his licence for the misdemeanours, fell to 17th in the final classification. 

Massa’s in-race drive-through penalty was for the same offence made by Techeetah pair Jean-Eric Vergne and Andre Lotterer, who were also punished for the infringement. 

The race marked a difficult start to life in the all-electric series for the drivers entering Formula E as rookies. 

Former McLaren F1 driver Stoffel Vandoorne starred in qualifying but dropped to 16th in the race, one position behind Formula 2 graduate Maximilian Gunther and two places ahead of BMW’s Alexander Sims, while 2018 DTM champion and Vandoorne’s HWA teammate Gary Paffett failed to finish after crashing out. 

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