Post-Race Debrief: 2018 Ad Diriyah E-Prix

Ad Diriyah E-Prix – Antonio Felix da Costa took victory for BMW on its debut in Formula E, but what other stories came from the race?

Drainage issues

A thunderstorm which hit the circuit early on Saturday morning caused parts of the circuit to flood, particularly at the lower ends of the circuit at Turns 8, 9 and 10 where the drains overflowed, eventually leading to the cancellation of FP1 and a proposed extended FP2, before a shortened session took place.

Lack of running causes issues

Even in the 35-minutes of running had before qualifying, 20 minutes was lost to a red flag after Edoardo Mortara suffered a brake problem and hit the barriers.

This meant that teams were unable to calibrate their software properly before qualifying or the race, which resulted in several penalties being handed out for power spikes, which occur when going over bumps, and using too much energy.


Six post-qualifying penalties were handed out to Sam Bird, Lucas di Grassi, Robin Frijns and Oliver Rowland for going over the allowed 250kW of power in qualifying.

Tom Dillmann had his times deleted for completing more than the regulated number of laps in quali, but both he and his NIO team-mate Oliver Turvey were sent to the back anyway because of a missing FIA sensor in their dataloggers.

Mortara also received a 3-place grid penalty for a regeneration infringement.

Races compromised

This continued in the race as Felipe Massa, Andre Lotterer, Jean-Eric Vergne and Gary Paffett received drive-through penalties for the same regen infringement. Alexander Sims was given a drive-through for exceeding 200kW of power, and then a subsequent 10-second stop/go for a repeat offence.

Felipe Massa was given two penalties after the race from FanBoost infringements which dropped him from 14th to 17th.


Wildcard Felix Rosenqvist retired after suffering a gearbox issue, the same one which led to his Mahindra crashing in qualifying. Gary Paffett also retired from his FE debut after his HWA made contact with the wall.

Jose Maria Lopez retired after suffering a left-rear suspension failure on his Dragon.

Unfulfilled potential

Envision Virgin Racing, NIO and Dragon’s Max Gunther felt their grid positions massively compromised their races and led to them not scoring points. Each cited the lack of preparation before qualifying as the start of a snowball effect which led them to have tough races.

Did Techeetah lose a win

As both of its drivers were hit with the drive-through while its drivers were first and third, Vergne believes he should have won the race but admits the results could have been skewed by the safety car being deployed which led to a “flat-out” end to the race.

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Chris Stevens

Chris is a member of the Autosport Academy and has been writing about motorsport professionally since 2015. He has been one of the top Formula E journalists since he went to Donington Park for pre-season testing a week after picking up his A-Level results.

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