Da Costa (BMW I Andretti Motorspor) beat Frenchman Jean-Eric Vergne (DS Techeetah) who came in second position while the third place went to Belgian Jerome d’Ambrosio (Mahindra Racing)
AD DIRIYAH, Saudi Arabia, December 15, 2018 – Antonio Felix da Costa of Portugal (for BMW I Andretti Motorsport) won the inaugural Saudia Ad Diriyah E Prix main race on Saturday at Ad Diriyah, a stunning UNESCO World Heritage Site near the Saudi capital, Riyadh.
The Formula E action on the Ad Diriyah racetrack got underway in the afternoon, pitting 22 drivers in a pitched battle to clinch the 2018 Saudia Ad Diriyah E-Prix title. Frenchman Jean-Éric Vergne (DS Techeetah) came in second position while third place went to Belgian Jérôme d’Ambrosio (Mahindra Racing).
Prior to Saturday’s victory, in Formula E, da Costa had enjoyed a sensational first-place finish in Buenos Aires in Season 1. He moved from Team Aguri to Andretti for Season 3 and previously raced for BMW in the German Touring Car Masters.
Speaking after the race, the Formula E champion da Costa said:
”The track was so much fun, especially when you do the first couple of corners and going down the mountain, all the way to 13-14 was so much fun and your focus levels need to be so high for you to do 45-minutes on the limit with this car here. And I actually touched the walls slightly inside earlier in the race and luckily nothing happened. So this was a lot of fun and it is amazing what are we doing now with Formula E.”
Da Costa added: “We were very welcomed here, great treatment and the track was amazing and the event was amazing, all the concerts and all the people coming and even the locals in the podium so many locals asking for pictures and to have a picture with me so it was amazing to see that even a country with not so much motorsport history still loves what we’re doing and they attended and hopefully next year will be better and better and we are happy to come back.”
‘WE HAD AN AMAZING VENUE’
Vergne, the youngest Frenchman ever to race in Formula 1 and has been in Formula E since the first season, was defending his championship win from last season. After Saturday’s race, Vergne said: ”We had an amazing venue, racing through the desert which I know wasn’t possible two months ago. I think they’ve done an incredible job and a big thank you to all of them (Formula E organisers). I had a good pace, I was really hungry for victory today but things this morning didn’t really go as planned but I was actually confident in this race .. and I don’t know how many overtakes I had today but I had a lot of fun behind the wheel.”
Third place winner D’Ambrosio, who is one of few to have raced in every Formula E race since the series’ inception and who moved to Indian team Mahindra from Dragon Racing, noted that “during the race I didn’t have a lot of confidence… to (overtake) Jean-Éric Vergne so I felt I should rather keep to the podium then do something silly. And it is an amazing way to start and I am really really happy to be part of such a great team, great atmosphere and lots of great people. It is a great way to start and we can build on this.”
Attending the race was Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman, who is spearheading the Vision 2030 strategy for the future, which aims to open up the country. With him were Prince Abdulaziz bin Turki AlFaisal, Vice-Chair of the Saudi Arabia General Sports Authority, and Prince Khalid bin Sultan, President of the Saudi Arabian Motor Federation.
Earlier in the day saw the launch of the all-electric production car racing series, the Jaguar I-Pace eTrophy. Fans watched drivers compete in qualifying sessions ahead of Saturday’s finals.
The historic city of Ad Diriyah, the first seat of power for Saudi Kings, came alive by hosting the biggest festival of car racing, live music and entertainment in the Kingdom. The first-of-its-kind three-day event, which closed on Saturday, included concerts by globally-acclaimed musicians.
Global music stars Jason Derulo and Enrique Iglesias performed before a large crowd of enthusiastic fans on Thursday evening as the lights turned green for the Formula E festival of fun surrounding the 2018 ‘Saudia’ Ad Diriyah E-Prix. Hip-hop, pop & dance royalty Black Eyed Peas regaled the audience on Friday, when the band shared the stage with Egyptian singer-songwriter Amr Diab. On Saturday evening, fans were treated to a double-header of sensational acts with both US music heroes OneRepublic and superstar DJ/producer David Guetta headlining the biggest night.
“Saudi is an incredible country. Genuinely one of the most welcoming collective of communities I’ve experienced in any country in the world,” said John Marcar, events company owner from London.