Felix da Costa shines and other talking points from Ad Diriyah E-Prix

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Antonio Felix da Costa fended off Jean-Eric Vergne to win the season-opening Formula E race at Ad Diriyah.

Jerome D’Ambrosio of Belgium crossed the line in third to complete the first podium at the inaugural race in Saudi Arabia.

Here, we look at the key talking points.

Dangerous Da Costa

The Portuguese driver was in outstanding form, cruising to just his second career win and first since Buenos Aires in 2015.

Starting from pole position, Da Costa looked like he was bossing the race and was under little pressure from the rest of the field. But Vergne came storming back and took the lead briefly midway through the race until he was slapped with a drive through penalty for a technical infringement.

Despite sustained pressure from a resurgent Vergne late on, Da Costa held on for BMW Andretti’s maiden triumph in the all-electric race series.

Victory in Saudi Arabia represents a serious boost for the 27-year-old who had been dogged by poor form and inconsistencies with the car over the past few seasons.

Could his win in the Gulf be the start of something special?

Vergne shines

The Frenchman demonstrated why he is the defending Formula E champion with a scintillating drive.

Starting from fifth on the grid, the 28-year-old soared around the side of Andre Lotterer, Sebastien Buemi and Da Costa to take the lead at the halfway stage of the race.

Leading with 18 minutes to go, he was slapped with a drive through penalty for overpower during regeneration and returned out in fourth. But a safety car late on helped and he was able to pass d’Ambrosio to seal second place and a 16th podium of his career.

It was a positive start to the season for the Paris native, who signed a new multi-year deal with the DS Techeetah squad on Friday.

More to improve for Stoffel Vandoorne

One of the stars of qualifying, the Belgian started on the third row and looked comfortably quicker than anyone else in his qualifying group.

However, he struggled in the race and dropped from fifth to 17th.

In fact, he did little to threaten any driver in front of him during the race and he lacked any form of pace around the tight Ad Diriyah circuit.

After two sub-par seasons in Formula One, it’s hard to criticise the 24-year-old in his maiden Formula E race and he will only improve as the season develops.

Significant boost for Saudi

Even in less than ideal conditions, the local fans came out in their droves to watch the inaugural Formula E race in Saudi Arabia.

And it did not disappoint either, with the race proving to be a thrilling spectacle around the narrow track outside of Riyadh.

The season-opening race in the Kingdom represented a new chapter for the sport in the region and adds to the growing list of sporting events currently taking place throughout the year.

Furthermore, it’s a major boost for motorsport in the Gulf to have a race in Saudi Arabia and adds to the exciting races that already take place in Formula One with Grand Prix in Bahrain and the UAE.

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