Formula E: 10 Takeaways From The Diriyah E-Prixes

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Formula E is back! After a fast and action-packed weekend in Diriyah, we take a look at some of the big talking points.

The lights are out. The long winter is over (for Formula E). Finally, Season 8 is underway. It was an exciting weekend as the Gen2 cars took to the track in their final year at the Diriyah double-header. There are plenty of storylines to discuss in the run-up to the Mexico City E-Prix on February 12th. Here’s a quick look at 10 talking points from the weekend in Saudi Arabia:

1 – Mercedes set to finish off their time with another title challenge

10 laps into Round 2 and the script seemed to be set. Mercedes had won both qualifying brackets. Nyck de Vries finished 1-2 with Stoffel Vandoorne on Friday, and de Vries looked in control on Saturday. Was this how Season 8 would play out? Formula E once again proved its parity, as de Vries lost the lead after smart Attack Mode use by ROKiT Venturi and then fell further back when Jean-Eric Vergne cascaded de Vries back into 10th. Vandoorne’s 7th place on Saturday kept both Mercedes in the points and while Round 2 will have been a disappointment, they are still the team to beat heading to Mexico City in two weeks.

2 – The new Formula E Qualifying Format is a success

Formula E qualifying is now its own event. The new format was entertaining and should only improve as the season continues. 12-minute group sessions are followed by back-to-back knockout duels. As the season plays out, we should see more rivalries face off in a qualifying duel and bigger championship implications. The green light timing issue with Antonio Felix da Costa was the only mark on the new system, but for a first attempt, it was a success – at the track and on TV.

3 – ROKiT Venturi ready to challenge

While Gen3 could vastly shake up the field, at the moment Rokit Venturi could be the team of the future. With Mercedes leaving after this season, ROKiT Venturi could prove out the long-term winners with a pair of experienced race winners and the Mercedes powertrain. After the 1-3 finish on Saturday, they hold the lead in the team standings by just one point. Expect them to be a main talking point as we arrive in Mexico City in two weeks’ time.

4 – Jake Dennis shines

The other driver to finish with double-digit points in each race, Dennis should once again be a title contender. He was into the Qualifying Finals for Round 1 before finishing third. While his name wasn’t mentioned as much in Round 2, he quietly brought home a 5th-place result. After a stellar rookie campaign, Dennis looks to have a car to challenge for the top five in each race.

5 – Two former champs left missing out

The opening lap of Round 1 saw us lose da Costa, then he struggled to get up into the points the following day. Receiving Fan Boost on both occasions, da Costa’s 12th place on Saturday leaves him on zero points and 12 behind his teammate. Another shock this weekend was the lack of competitiveness from Sebastien Buemi. Finishes of 17th and 13th, the Swiss driver wasn’t in the mix and leaves doubts about whether he will have a car to challenge for points this season.

6 – Oliver Askew surprises

On the other end of the spectrum was Avalanche Andretti rookie Oliver Askew. He drove his way up into the points (9th) in his first-ever Formula E race. On Saturday, he was in the points again, until a late drop after taking Attack Mode. With the last 9 minutes or so being under the yellow flag, Askew missed the chance to climb back up the field for back-to-back points. However, this is a great sign for the American driver and Andretti’s hopes in the team standings.

7 – That crane incident…

By now, you’ve likely seen the outrage over the crane incident late in Round 2. If not, here is Vergne’s tweet about the ridiculousness we saw on Saturday. Not only was the crane dangling a car at halo height near the driver’s heads, but it caused another incident. The lack of information and location caused a backup which cost Oliver Askew part of his car. In retrospect, the FIA should have red-flagged the race while the crane was on the track. Especially given the new time rules, but more on that in a moment.

8 – Disappointment for Nissan

10th last season and off to a rough start for the Nissan e.dams team. Maximilian Guenther and Buemi both failed to score points in either race. That leaves the team tied at the bottom with Dragon Penske. A tough start for a Nissan team that have finished as high as 2nd in recent years.

9 – New Formula E time rules

No one enjoys finishing a race under a long yellow flag. Especially when the series has new rules in place to add time back in. Race 1 used the rules quite well. After a delay, the FIA added just enough time back into the race to use up the remaining energy and create battles until the end. After Sims crashed in Round 2, rather than utilizing the ability to add time back in, the FIA decided that enough time had passed and no additional time would be added on. Then the crane incident occurred and the yellow flag took longer than expected. It took what had been a competitive race and ended it on a sour note. We could see changes to the implementation of that rule by the time the Rome E-Prix comes around in April.

10 – Antonio Giovinazzi

It was a tough weekend, as expected, for Formula 1 alumni Antonio Giovinazzi. After struggling at the back of the pack in both races, he leaves in last place. On a positive note, his fan support has seemingly translated over from F1. Giovinazzi received Fan Boost in both races, not that it improved his results on the day. For driver and team, the focus is the long term, so no need to panic… Yet!

In Other News: 2022 Formula E Diriyah E-Prix Race 1 Highlights

Main Image Credit: Embed from Getty Images