2019 Diriyah ePrix: Weekend in Review
From the top...
Boy, that was a doozy. Going into the first weekend of the season, I'll admit, I wasn't expecting much in the way of surprises. Granted, that's coming from an F1 fan, and our season starts in Australia. And we have a Lewis Hamilton, so... Anyways, the beginning of the season was an outstanding one, to say the least. Two winners from two different teams (albeit both winners were british), with both winners topping the quali times at one point. That last statistic isn't exactly a stunner, per se, but hey, what are you gonna do about it, y'know? Now, speaking of quali...
Alex Sims, the winner of the second race, has been on pole for the last 3 races. 3 races! And yet, the only race he actually won out of those three was the most recent one. But my god, he commanded that race from start to finish. He made some outstanding safety car restarts, nabbing attack mode before the safety car line (I'll get onto that later), which in turn caused DAC to have to slow down, thus slowing the pack behind, which gave Sims an excellent restart, since everyone else had to slow down, while he simply needed to go through the attack mode activation zone at a reasonable speed. This made it to where everyone around him was about 5-10 mph (8-16 kmh) slower than him (sorry, I'm a yank, I don't like using metric for speed), so he could basically launch himself about a second or so ahead of the pack before his acceleration started to slow down, and they could catch up. Absolutely brilliant stuff.
Some unexpected podiums...
I believe I speak for most of us when I say that I didn't expect Mercedes or Porsche to be anywhere near the podium this weekend. Needless to say, my expectations were very, very, VERY wrong. First race: André Lotterer P2 for Porsche, Stoffel "Fanboost" Vandoorne P3 for Mercedes. Second race: Vandoorne picks up another P3 for Merc (after penalties are applied), placing them at the TOP of the Team's championship standings. Notice how I didn't say near the top, I said at the top. Remember, I'm not talking about a veteran team like Audi or e.Dams, I'm talking about a rookie team.
Merc leading the Team's championship. Mind. Blown.
And some damn good rookie drives.
The man of the hour. Mr. Nyck de Vries. What a driver. I mean, come on. The kid won the F2 championship for Pete's sake. That's not something that a sub-par driver can achieve. He also almost scored a podium on his Formula E debut. He also almost got pole on his Formula e debut. That's some impressive stuff, especially when you consider how close the field is in FE. Now, unfortunately for Nyck, he had to start right at the back for the second race, due to a poor lap in quali. But, that didn't stop the flying Dutchman, as he swiftly made his way up to the points. Those points were never meant to be, however, as he was handed a penalty for overtaking under safety car conditions (as was half the field, mind you). However, this is one of those "rare" (not really) situations where the points don't reflect the whole story. He might not have gotten the points, but he did get the respect. After all, he went from the back of the grid all the way up to the points. If that's not deserving of respect, then I don't know what is.
And finally, my complaints.
THAT ATTACK MODE ACTIVATION ZONE WAS GARBAGE.
Sorry about that, just needed to get it off my chest. So, uh, yeah, that activation zone was about as cancerous as stage 4 lymphoma. First of all, they put it BEFORE the safety car line, which means that when the safety car goes in, you would need to watch the driver in front of you like a hawk, so that you wouldn't be caught off guard if they went for attack mode. This is due to the fact that the drivers can not overtake until they pass the safety car line.
This is where most of the penalties came from. Rookies most likely didn't know about the rule, or just forgot about it, and veterans forgot that the safety car line was now AFTER the activation zone. That is why we saw people like Maxi Günther overtake 2 cars AFTER the green flags were dropped, and then get hit with a post-race penalty for "overtaking under the safety car." I don't have a problem with the rule. In fact, I think its a fantastic rule. I just have a severe problem with how they go about showing the green flags after the safety car is supposedly in. They pop the green flags up all at once. This is a problem. This leads to confusion over whether the drivers can overtake or not. What they should do is use the flag lights on the driver's steering wheel as the flag indicator. Now, yes, I know that they already do that, but hear me out, alright? They can make it so that once the safety car is in, the drivers are still under safety car conditions, i.e. no passing, don't brake check people, etc. However, instead of flashing the green flags up all at once, they can make the system flash the green on the steering wheels once each individual driver passes the safety car line. So, for instance, let's say Sam Bird is leading the race. Safety car's just come in, everyone is still under SC conditions. Sam Bird passes the SC line, green flags on his wheel. Lets say di Grassi is in second. He passes the SC line, and HIS green flags go on now. Wash, rinse and repeat down the order, and you now have a better system. The drivers are still allowed to overtake at the same time they would under the current system, except now there's less confusion.
That was a long paragraph. I'm sorry about that.
There is a lot to be said about the season opener. In my eyes, it was a great set of races. There were some issues regarding safety car restarts and the haziness of the restrictions around those, but all in all, I enjoyed it.
But I want to know your guys' opinion. Did you enjoy the races? Did you hate the attack mode issues as much as me? Are disappointed in the fact that men named Seb have been unsafely rejoining the track as of late? I'd love to hear your guys' opinions on it!
This has been Ethan's Weekend in Review! I hope you enjoyed my rant! Please feel free to give me feedback in the comments below. I understand that it was very long, and I'll try to condense these as much as possible from Chile onwards. I'm just a passionate motorsport lover, after all (and I also got carried away with the DriveTribe studio :P )!
Hope you guys have a great winter break!