Alexander Sims in Sanya 2019

Formula E 18/19 post-race review: Race 6, Sanya

Mar 29, 2019 - 5min read

A super race in Sanya meant the streak of six different drivers in pole position, and six different winners in six races continued. Reigning champion Jean-Éric Vergne managed to squeeze past Oliver Rowland in pole, to come out victorious and move himself up to third in the Drivers’ Championship, with António Félix da Costa now sitting on top.

So, what happened?
The top five drivers in the championship went out on track first for qualifying and set the pace, with BMW i Andretti Motorsport’s António Félix da Costa looking the strongest of the bunch. Moving into the Super Pole session, the Nissans looked strong with Oliver Rowland setting a superb time in his lap. The rest failed to match this, giving him his first ever Formula E pole position!

As the lights went out in Sanya, it remained clean through the first corner with some pressing up and down the pack. Just three minutes into the race and championship leader Sam Bird pulled into a side road after colliding with the car in front whilst on the brakes. Rowland continued to cruise away up front.

Twenty minutes later, just past the half way mark, Vergne made an aggressive move and dived down the inside of Turn 11 to overtake Rowland and take first place! This triggered a frenzy behind; Da Costa immediately pounced but failed to overtake the now second-placed Rowland, as Daniel Abt also pressed Da Costa who ended up clipping the nose of this car! This squabbling slowed the chasing pack, allowing the rest of the field to catch up.

Meanwhile, Vergne took full advantage by pulling away and engaging Attack Mode to nip out in front of the chasing Rowland. As the field caught up, André Lotterer and Alexander Sims jostled for fifth place; unluckily Sims squeezed into the wall, clipping his rear right wheel along the way. This incident ruled him out of the race and the red flags were deployed, bringing the race to a halt.

Then, just as the race got underway again, it transpired that Vergne was under investigation for not respecting the safety car during the incident! As we awaited the results in the closing laps, Robin Frijns of Envision Virgin Racing locked up at high speed and collided directly with Lucas Di Grassi, spinning both cars out, and the yellow flag making a rather lengthy appearance.

This left Vergne, who was cleared of the penalty, to cross the line at walking pace, to be crowned the sixth winner in as many races - the Chinese team takes the chequered flag at home!

Da Costa creeps to the top spot
Despite his sole win this season coming from the very first race, da Costa has managed to become the only driver to achieve three podiums so far this season. Now he sits top of the championship with 62 points, just one ahead of Jerome D’Ambrosio of Mahindra Racing. Having learnt from the madness in Marrakesh, he seemed to back off at the end of the race, clearly locking in the points with the long game in mind!

The streak continues!
We’ve now seen a remarkable six different drivers starting six different in pole position, with six different winners! This season is proving to be more unpredictable than ever, providing exhilarating viewing and allowing fans of all teams to get a taste of victory. Surely it can’t continue?

The reigning champion rises again
Last year, Vergne won the Driver’s Championship with a whole race to spare. This year it took him six races to get a win but now sees him jump up to third in the standings and his DS Techeetah team to fourth in the Team Standings, and only two points from the top! Could this win be a turnaround for the team?

From Alexander Sims himself:
Sims broke into the Super Pole group in style, but unfortunately a gear selection problem arose just as he was about to leave the pits, putting him out of the session. With Sébastien Buemi crashing out, Sims qualified in fifth position. He put in a solid race until bad luck struck again, with Lotterer squeezing him into the barrier half way though the race. On to Rome!

Alexander Sims close up Sanya 2019

“It’s difficult to accept this disappointing end to the race. Our pace was good and qualifying went really well. I was happy with that and think we could have taken home decent points, but the race didn’t go my way. It’s frustrating to be in the position of having another missed opportunity. António is a superb benchmark for me, so I was delighted to be able to keep up with his lap times. Then, the race was going okay, although difficult to overtake. I defended my line against Lotterer, and I feel he didn’t leave me enough space. It’s a real shame that our pace and efforts went unrewarded. I can’t pinpoint a specific reason for the results and bad luck so far this year, but I’ve got to keep my chin up and try again.”  

What’s next?

Formula E returns to action on Saturday 13th April in Rome, Italy – tune in online with the BBC on their website or Red Button, or on the Formula E YouTube channel.

For more details on our partnership with Alexander Sims, click here.

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