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De Vries earns maiden FE victory in Diriyah opener

Nyck De Vries picked up his maiden FIA Formula E victory in the opening race of Season 7.

It was a lights-to-flag masterclass for de Vries, who had to manage two safety car restarts on his way to the win.

Eduardo Mortara took second after a stunning move to pass Mitch Evans and Pascal Wehrlein at the same time, while Evans completed the podium.

De Vries got a good start off the line, leaving second place Wehrlein to battle with Rene Rast for position. Even once Rast had cleared Wehrlein, de Vries continued to extend his lead at the front of the order and had a comfortable gap when Alex Lynn and Sam Bird brought out the yellow flags just before the mid-point of the race.

After Mortara’s move on Evans and Wehrlein, the trio was joined by Lynn and Bird in the battle for P3. Bird attempted a move up the inside of Lynn, but was squeezed into the wall. Lynn spun around and the pair made contact nose to nose. Both were able to get moving again, but Lynn soon came to a stop with too much damage and Bird retired in the pits.

De Vries now had Rast on his tail for the safety car restart, but the Audi driver couldn’t put up much of an attack. De Vries pulled enough of a gap to take the Attack Mode without losing a position just before Maximilian Gunther slammed into the wall and brought out the safety car for a second time. Rast also took Attack Mode just before the safety car was announced.

The second restart with less than six minutes on the clock ran much like the first, with de Vries getting a strong getaway. Rast had dropped behind Mortara as he took Attack Mode, but reclaimed the position when the Venturi driver ran through the Attack Mode activation.

It didn’t take long for Mortara to reclaim the position. Evans, who also had Attack Mode late on, took third. Rast tried to fight back but couldn’t reclaim the position and had to settle for P4.

Pascal Wehrlein spent the closing stages of the race locked in a battle with Oliver Rowland. Rowland briefly claimed P5, but Wehrlein was able to retake the position before the chequered flag.

Alexander Sims picked up seventh ahead of Stoffel Vandoorne, who took the fastest lap, and Lucas Di Grassi.

Oliver Turvey completed the top 10.

Sebastien Buemi was running 11th in the closing stages of the race before contact with Jake Dennis on the final lap. Multiple drivers were caught up in the incident as they crossed the finish line, but all were able to take the chequered flag.

As a result, reigning champion Antonio Felix Da Costa finished in P11, ahead of Dennis, Buemi, Norman Nato, and Jean-Eric Vergne.

Bethonie Waring

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