Mixed result in season opener
Although the podiums weren’t forthcoming, the Audis showed pace aplenty.
While the Audi e-tron FE07 was one of the fastest cars in Saudi Arabia, the Formula E season opener was a mixed result for Audi Sport ABT Schaeffler.
1 March, 2021
René Rast was on the pace from the beginning, qualifying for the Super Pole and securing third position on the grid
Motorsport can be a fickle game at the best of times, and a season opener, particularly after last year, is always a challenge in itself. For Audi Sport ABT Schaeffler, the double header to this year’s FIA Formula E Championship, returned mixed blessings. Held in Diriyah, Saudi Arabia, the two races were the first ever Formula E races to be held under lights, and although for Audi at the end of the weekend the ideal result of podiums and points haul wasn’t there, the speed of the new Audi e-tron FE07 most certainly was. In addition, three-time DTM champion and (relatively new) team member, René Rast was on the pace from the beginning, qualifying for the Super Pole that includes the six fastest drivers and securing third position on the grid for the opening race of the weekend.
Rast took that speed and his tremendously competitive spirit into the race, pushing for a win right off the bat, a result that was thwarted by two safety car periods which ultimately saw him finish just off the podium in fourth position.
For Lucas di Grassi, a less than favourable qualifying session saw him star well back in the 24-strong field in 16th, but this position also allowed the former Formula E champion stage one of his famous comeback drives, to slice through the field and finish in ninth.
For Team Principal, Allan McNish, it was a very promising opening salvo from the team and promises big things as the season progresses.
“This is definitely a good result for us,” said Team Principal Allan McNish after the season opener. “René drove a really strong race. He was fighting for the lead. Unfortunately, the safety cars came at the wrong time for him. René showed how strong he and our car are. Lucas also drove well from 16th on the grid with a decisive and faultless performance.”
The second race on the Saturday was marred by a serious accident which saw the race stopped early, but despite again starting from well back in the field in 15th, di Grassi again drove through the field to finish in eighth and in the points. René also started well back in the order for the race and had driven from 19th into the top 10, only to have a time penalty after the prematurely stopped race dropped him back to 17th.
“It was the kind of day today that can always happen to you in Formula E,” said a philosophical Allan McNish at the conclusion of the weekend’s racing.
“We leave Diriyah with the good feeling that we have a strong package. It’s a pity that we have to wait so long until Rome. If it were up to me, we could start the next race tomorrow.”
The silver lining for Audi Sport from the weekend though came from team Envision Virgin Racing, which, as an Audi customer team, is campaigning two Audi e-tron FE07 race cars this season. Driving one of the e-tron FE07 cars, Dutch driver Robin Frijns took the first pole position of his Formula E career in qualifying, before narrowing missing out on first place in the actual race. His teammate, Nick Cassidy, moved up from 10th on the grid to fifth in just his second Formula E start.
Race three of the 2021 Formula E season will take place in Rome on April 10.
Dutch driver Robin Frijns took the first pole position of his Formula E career in qualifying behind the wheel of an Audi e-tron FE07
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