Vandoorne shrugs off robust move to take Diriyah E-Prix lead

Mercedes Formula E driver Stoffel Vandoorne insists that his move to pass BMW Andretti’s Alexander Sims for the lead of the Diriyah E-Prix which resulted in contact was “nothing too major for FE standards”.

Vandoorne was lying in second during the middle period of the first of two races in Saudi Arabia, challenging Sims for the lead while simultaneously defending from eventual race winner Sam Bird. As Vandoorne teed up a move on Sims on the run to Turn 18, the Belgian driver went slightly deep into the corner with Sims on his outside, where the two touched.

Explaining that the move to pass Sims was crucial to keeping any chances of victory alive, as he had yet to take his second round of attack mode, Vandoorne admitted to a “slight touch” between the two.

“I think the crucial part for me was to get past Sims,” said Vandoorne, “as Sam was behind me in attack mode. I knew I had to clear him and try to stay in front but,then I knew it was going to be tricky to kind of keep the lead with it with Sam already having taken the attack mode.

“I was defending from Sam and at the same time I was overtaking, so it was all quite tricky. The track offline here is so slippery, so I went up the inside and then I kind of understeered really, and then I think we had a little touch or something, but nothing too major for Formula E standards.”

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Sims agreed that Vandoorne’s move was above board, and conceded that he could have defended from his aggressor’s advances sooner.

“No, it's fine,” Sims said of the move. “From my side, it was my fault for not blocking earlier fully. But in reality they probably would have just got past on the next lap or something.

“We just sort of started to get ourselves more and more into an energy deficit and about halfway through I realised that is going to be pretty difficult. So I got caught by the move with Sam overtaking Stoffel and me, and then effectively going down the inside of me, I was too late to react to that.”

Alexander Sims, BMW I Andretti Motorsports, BMW iFE.20 goes wide leading Stoffel Vandoorne, Mercedes Benz EQ, EQ Silver Arrow 01, Nyck De Vries, Mercedes Benz EQ, EQ Silver Arrow 01

Alexander Sims, BMW I Andretti Motorsports, BMW iFE.20 goes wide leading Stoffel Vandoorne, Mercedes Benz EQ, EQ Silver Arrow 01, Nyck De Vries, Mercedes Benz EQ, EQ Silver Arrow 01

Photo by: Zak Mauger / Motorsport Images

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