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Sam Bird wins turbulent Diriyah E-Prix Round 2

The race-start of Diriyah E-Prix Round 2. Credits: Formula E

Sam Bird won a high-class second round of the Formula E season in Saudi Arabia. Robin Frijns finished second ahead of the two DS Techeetah drivers Jean-Eric Vergne and Antonio Felix da Costa.

When the lights went out shortly after 6 p. m. CET, polesitter Robin Frijns got off to a good start. Sam Bird behind him also got away well and overtook second-placed Sergio Sette Camara immediately in turn 1. One lap later, Antonio Felix da Costa passed Buemi at turn 18 – the champion moved up to eighth. At the same point, Nico Mueller also attacked Tom Blomqvist, who was ahead of him and moved up to 5th place.

After ten minutes, Jean-Eric Vergne was the first to get his first of two attack modes and passed his teammate. The 2018 and 2019 champion also overtook Nico Mueller and Oliver Turvey a little later, who also equipped themselves with Attack Mode.

After eleven laps the leader Frijns also drove through the attack zone and Bird consequently took the lead. Frijns closed the gap over the next two laps thanks to the extra effort and regained his lead at the end of the long start straight. Bird responded and in turn drove through the attack zone, but fell behind Sette Camara. Although the Jaguar driver caught up with his Dragon/Penske opponent a lap later, he was unable to catch up with Frijns as he had hoped. So, he stayed behind the Dutchman for the time being.

After 20 minutes Vergne caught Sette Camara at turn 18 and was on course for the podium from then on.

The race was marked by many accidents. In turn 19, BMW driver Jake Dennis was fighting with Pascal Wehrlein for 15th, then there was contact. Wehrlein pushed Dennis sideways into the wall at the next corner, whereupon the front suspension of the BMW broke. Dennis rolled out and came to a stop at the entrance to the pit lane. Race officials called a full course yellow to recover the car. Wehrlein received a penalty. Frijns got his second attack mode and overtook Bird after just over 25 minutes of racing.

Antonio Felix da Costa also got past Vergne with his second attack mode and was now third. Both DS drivers were now fighting with the leading duo for victory – and with themselves. They almost pushed each other against the wall and lost a lot of time to the front of the field as a result.

Then, Sebastien Buemi stopped after an accident in turn 4. Maximilian Guenther and Tom Blomqvist collided at the end of the long straight: The Austrian-German braked too late and crashed into the NIO in front of him. As a result, Guenther destroyed his car, as he had done the day before, and dropped out.

But that was not all: Mitch Evans and Alex Lynn also collided off camera. The damaged Jaguar of Evans was briefly visible in the run-off zone of the long straight, but not the Mahindra of Lynn. What exactly had happened was not apparent at first. Race control initially called a full course yellow, and a little later the Safety Car came onto the track and collected the field.

After a few minutes, race control interrupted the E-Prix with red flags at 2:41 minutes plus one lap remaining on the clock. Then the decision came that the race would not be resumed. Sam Bird was thus classified as the race winner.

UPD: Jean-Eric Vergne, Nick Cassidy, Tom Blomqvist, Rene Rast, Norman Nato, Alexander Sims, and Alex Lynn have all got penalties after the race.

The revised top 10 of the race:

Pos.Car no.DriverTeam
1#10Sam BirdJaguar Racing
2#4Robin FrijnsEnvision Virgin Racing
3#13Antonio Felix da CostaDS Techeetah
4#7Sergio Sette CamaraDragon/Penske Autosport
5#6Nico MuellerDragon/Penske Autosport
6#8Oliver TurveyNIO 333
7#22Oliver RowlandNissan e.dams
8#11Lucas di GrassiAudi Sport
9#17Nyck de VriesMercedes-EQ
10#99Pascal WehrleinPorsche
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