Envision Virgin Racing’s Sam Bird took a dramatic victory in the opening race of season six of the ABB FIA Formula E championship on Friday.

The Englishman started the SAUDIA Diriyah ePrix from fifth place on the grid and had great battles with both Andre Lotterer and Stoffel Vandoorne to open his account with a win.

It looked like Mercedes were set to take victory on the debut however Vandoorne struggled in the closing stages of the race which allowed Bird and Lotterer to get by him.

Speaking following race one Bird said:

“I felt confident going into the race. Envision Virgin Racing gave me an amazing car. I think some of it is down to the new beard! Last year was difficult and I went through a sort of transformation involving plenty of thinking and mental stuff. It’s very special to win today. There are 23 other amazing drivers out there, so to come out on top means a lot. It’s a great start to the year, but the hard work doesn’t stop. We have another race tomorrow. There’s potential in the car so we need to maximise what we can.”

It was a great day for the TAG Heuer Porsche team as Andre Lotterer scored their maiden podium finish in their very first race.

“Tomorrow we have another race and it’ll be much harder. Either way we take today as it was, which is an amazing debut for the Porsche team. We all worked very hard, we came here, and we did our best. Second place is a great way to start and boost the confidence of the team… it was awesome. I thought about having a crack at Sam [Bird] to give him payback for Hong Kong last season! We weren’t sure on how much energy we had left, so I decided to bring it home safely. I’m sure our time will come soon with a win!”

Stoffel Vandoorne had an extremely strong qualifying and followed that up a fantastic race giving the new Mercedes Benz EQ team their first podium in their first ever ePrix.

“A great start for everyone at Mercedes-Benz EQ today. It’s not easy for a new manufacturer to come into this championship and do so well in the first race. We had to put a lot of work into making sure our package was ready for this race and I wouldn’t say everything ran perfectly, but it was a very pleasing result and I think that everyone can be extremely proud. We have some more work to do. But I’m happy with the podium.”

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