Extreme E: Veloce Racing wins season opener in Saudi Arabia after time penalty against RXR
Veloce Racing has won the Extreme E season opener in Saudi Arabia. The team led by Kevin Hansen and Molly Taylor beat Rosberg X Racing at the Desert X Prix in the Neom region. The German team dropped back to third place due to a subsequent penalty after Mikaela Ahlin-Kottulinsky had initially crossed the finish line first. Acciona Sainz with rookie Mattias Ekström finished second. As almost usual, there had been several rollovers on Saturday.
In the new race format, the first two heats of Qualifying 1 were scheduled early Saturday morning (6 am CET). Although the track was moved directly (!) to the Red Sea, the old problem of the Desert X Prix remained: The cars kicked up a lot of dust during their sand runs over the weekend, so that chasers:inside mostly had to struggle with poor visibility.
Heat 1: CGN wins, Munnings rolls over
In the first heat, a neck-and-neck race between RJ Anderson (Chip Ganassi) and returnee Mattias Ekström (Sainz) emerged early on. Nasser Al-Attiyah (ABT Cupra) suffered early contact with Timmy Hansen (Andretti), suffered front body damage and trailed the field. The cockpit swap order after two laps: Anderson, Ekström, Scheider, Hansen, Al-Attiyah.
Then it was the women's turn: Amanda Sorensen was able to pull away early on because Laia Sanz accidentally slid into the sea and lost a few seconds. The same happened to Klara Andersson in the ABT car. Catie Munnings in 4th place put pressure on Christine GZ. During an attack on the inside lane she got levered out and rolled over. Her Andretti car came to rest on its roof, but Munnings was uninjured. Sorensen (10 qualifying points) took the win in the first heat ahead of Sanz (8). GZ (6), Andersson (4) and Munnings (2) followed behind.
Heat 2: Champions do their homework, RXR weakens
The best start in the second heat was made by Tanner Foust in the McLaren. However, Fraser McConnell of championship-winning team X44 made a great charge around the outside to move up from fourth to first. The pair were followed by debutant Heikki Kovalainen (JBXE) in third. Kevin Hansen (Veloce) ignited his hyperdrive right on the beach and overtook Johan Kristoffersson - RXR now last! In lap 2 Kovalainen still passed Foust in hyperdrive. So it was into the switch zone: McConnell, Kovalainen, Foust, Hansen, Kristoffersson.
Emma Gilmour was still pushed off in the slow zone and lost a position to Molly Taylor. A little later, the Season 1 champion also picked up Hedda Hosas - Veloce thus second. Gilmour lost another position to Mikaela Ahlin-Kottulinsky and eventually damaged the front of her McLaren at the RXR rear. Cristina Gutierrez took the win in the second heat across the line unchallenged and scored ten qualifying points for X44. Finishing behind the reigning champions were Veloce (8), JBXE (6), Rosberg X Racing (4) and McLaren (2)
Heat 1: Veloce dominates, RXR limits damage
In the first heat of the second qualifying session (13:20 CET), Molly Taylor in the Veloce came away best. She was followed by Sorensen (CGN), Giampaoli Zonca (Carl Cox), Ahlin-Kottulinsky (RXR) and Munnings in the now restored Andretti. Ahlin-Kottulinsky passed GZ on the second lap and took over 3rd place for the German Rosberg team. It was in that order that the personnel change took place.
The men went back on track with relatively large gaps between them. Kristoffersson, however, was catching up to Anderson in leaps and bounds. He eventually passed the Chip Ganassi driver in hyperdrive and took over second place. Scheider suffered more serious damage to the rear, dropped to the back of the field and eventually stopped. Kevin Hansen confidently secured the heat win for Veloce (10 qualifying points) ahead of RXR (8), Chip Ganassi (6), Andretti (4) and Carl Cox Motorsports (2)
Heat 2: Sainz rookie Ekström prevails
The best start in the second heat was made by Laia Sanz. Behind the Spaniard, Cristina Gutierrez, Emma Gilmour, Hedda Hosas and Klara Andersson sorted themselves out. Gutierrez in the X44 put pressure on the leader but then had to let go. Andersson overtook Hosas in the Hyperdrive on the beach to move ABT up to fourth position. So it was into the switch zone.
Then it was the turn of the male drivers. Mattias Ekström managed his lead with aplomb. Behind the Sainz driver: McConnell, Foust, Al-Attiyah and Kovalainen. In a generally very uneventful second qualifying session, nothing worth mentioning happened. Team Sainz (10) won the second heat ahead of X44 (8), McLaren (6), ABT (4) and JBXE (2)
This resulted in the following cumulative qualifying standings. The first five teams moved into the final, while the racing teams in positions 6 to 10 had to go into the Redemption Race. In the event of a points tie, the respective best time in the "Continental Traction Challenge" decided the position.
Qualifying results at Desert X Prix I
|place||team||Points Q1||Points Q2||Q total points|
In the first "Redemption Race" in history, positions 6 to 10 were at stake. Tanner Foust won the start at 14:10 (CET) and turned into the first corner ahead of Nasser Al-Attiyah. Behind the leading duo: Heikki Kovalainen and Timo Scheider. Timmy Hansen had the worst possible start: After contact with Scheider through no fault of his own - the German had previously clashed with Kovalainen - he rolled over and retired. Already the second somersault for Andretti this Saturday!
At the end of the long beach straight, the next scary moment occurred: Al-Attiyah attacked Foust, was levered out similar to Munnings in the morning and rolled over the hood of the McLaren. His ABT Cupra remained on its side. In this situation, Kovalainen overtook Foust, who had also sustained damage to the front. Both drivers were uninjured and were later returned to their pits by the safety car.
Kovalainen still drove into the switch zone first ahead of Foust and Scheider. Then race control interrupted the session with red flags to recover the crashed cars. Meanwhile, the three remaining competitors swapped cockpits in peace and waited for the restart.
After a lengthy interruption, Hosas, Gilmour and Giampaoli Zonca finally lined up for a "standing start." Hosas was first through Turn 1, but then Gilmour already ignited her hyperdrive and easily took the lead. Hosas, on the other hand, apparently had a technical problem, fell back and eventually stopped. GZ thus took up the pursuit of Gilmour. However, the latter was able to maintain her lead of around six seconds and won the Redemption race for McLaren.
Ekström in the Sainz car made the best start in the final (14:45 CET), but then RXR driver Kristoffersson countered and took the lead on the outside. Kevin Hansen in the Veloce moved up to second place in the same corner. McConnell and Anderson followed in the back positions, but the field remained very close. The first driver to bow out of the battle was McConnell: the Jamaican in the Chip Ganassi stopped with damage. Anderson in the X44 was also forced to retire. Without further duels, it was into the switch zone: RXR ahead of Veloce, Sainz and with X44 clearly behind.
Ahlin-Kottulinsky resumed the race in the lead and had to defend against her RXR predecessor Molly Taylor. The Australian in the Veloce put the Swede under heavy pressure. However, she lost around seven seconds when passing through the "slow zone" near the crashed CGN car - the supposed preliminary decision in the Desert X Prix. Ahlin-Kottulinsky crossed the finish line first. Shortly after the final, however, the race organizers issued a 136-second time penalty against RXR because the RXR driver had not slowed sufficiently in the "slow zone." Veloce thus inherited the victory, Sainz second place. Rosberg still finished third.
The second race of the new Extreme E season will take place as early as Sunday, as the off-road series is running exclusively "double-headers" this season. The first qualifying session will begin at 6 a.m. German time. The broadcast of the second qualifying as well as the final races will start at 1 pm. You can follow all sessions of the Extreme E in the livestream on e-Formel.de.