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Frijns claims a stunning podium finish at the Diriyah E-Prix

Envision Racing’s Robin Frijns scored a scintillating second place in Saudi Arabia to continue team’s podium streak in the sport.

Envision Racing’s Robin Frijns announced his Drivers’ Championship title aspirations under the lights at the Diriyah E-Prix with a stylish qualifying performance and superb second place finish in a thrilling Saturday race in Saudi Arabia.

As the only Envision Racing machine taking part in round three of the 2023–24 ABB FIA Formula E World Championship, Frijns made a perfect start. Starting second on the grid, he established an early lead from pole-sitter Oliver Rowland, beating the British driver into the opening sequence of turns.

From there, Frijns held onto second place for the remainder of the 36-lap race, resisting some serious pressure from Rowland to come home on the podium as runner up behind Nick Cassidy.

“Nick did a very good job,” Frijns said afterwards.

“But I secured P2, it’s good points – and hopefully we can go one better at the next race.”

It wasn’t all good news in Saudi Arabia. In qualifying, the Envision Racing duo experienced extremely differing fortunes. Both were quick, and as Sébastien Buemi crashed out, Frijns was in imperious form. The man from Maastricht beat all comers, soaring through to the final where he sealed second place on the grid.

For Buemi, his crash proved terminal, and it was an early bath.

The damage sustained in his qualifying shunt would mean the Swiss driver could not take part in the weekend’s second race and was forced to watch from the sidelines.

QUALIFYING

Heading out in Group A qualifying, Frijns lurked around the top three times, ending the session with a stunning lap to secure second and with it, progression to the duels. In Group B, Buemi underlined the newly discovered pace, running in the top three before dropping to fourth and crashing out with seconds of the session to spare.

In the first quarter-final, Frijns went up against race one pole position winner Jean-Éric Vergne. After a neck-and-neck battle, Frijns managed to beat his French opponent and surge into the semi-finals where he would face off against another DS Penske in the shape of Stoffel Vandoorne.

After a spectacular and occasionally sideways lap Frijns beat Vandoorne and made it into the final. Could the Envision Racing driver claim his third career pole position against Nissan’s Rowland?

The answer was no, as Rowland claimed pole position, however a second place starting slot for his third race back with Envision Racing was a decent reward for Frijns.

THE RACE

At the start Frijns made a lightning start, beating Rowland into the first corner and taking an early lead. The Envision Racing man spent the opening laps at the head of the pack, taking an initial Attack Mode on lap five, losing the lead the Nick Cassidy, but crucially remaining in front of Rowland.

On lap seven, Cassidy took his first Attack Mode, remaining ahead of Frijns, who also took his second Attack Mode phase. By lap 10, the top three became established with Cassidy leading Frijns and Rowland. The two Jaguar powered cars establishing a sizeable gap of more than six seconds over third place driver Rowland, and happily for Frijns, Cassidy showed no signs of getting away.

Using all his racecraft, energy saving abilities and experience Frijns continued to reel in the Jaguar of Cassidy as behind, as Rowland started to make ground on the leading duo. By lap 21, Rowland was right with Frijns and Cassidy. Not only that, but a few laps later the fight for the lead was joined by McLaren’s Jake Hughes, Vandoorne and Sacha Fenestraz.

With five laps remaining the race dynamic had changed from a two-car battle for the win to a multi-car scrap. By the start of the final lap Rowland had applied several laps of serious pressure to Frijns but could not find a way around the Envision Racing driver.

At the chequered flag Frijns claimed a comfortable second place, even challenging Cassidy’s lead on the final lap. The result means that his misfortune in Mexico is now a distant memory as Envision Racing head to Brazil for the Sao Paulo E-Prix.

“The start of the race was amazing, the highlight for sure,” Frijns said afterwards.

“I was leading the race and feeling comfortable. Then I was fighting with Nick and we were pulling away [from the field] and we were almost killing each other… it’s a good result though.

“I was struggling a bit at the beginning of the season, still needing to learn the car. Obviously Nick drove with this car [the Jaguar powertrain] all last year as well, so there are still steps to be made [for me]. But I will get there.”

Drivers’ standings (after Rd 3):
1. Nick Cassidy, 56pts
2. Pascal Wehrlein, 38pts
3. Jean-Éric Vergne 33pts
4. Jake Dennis, 30pts
5. Maximilian Günther, 20pts
7. Robin Frijns, 19pts
8. Sébastien Buemi, 18pts

Teams’ standings (after Rd 3):
1. Jaguar TCS Racing, 76pts
2. DS Penske, 47pts
3. Andretti Formula E 39, pts
4. Porsche Formula E Team, 38pts
5. Envision Racing, 37pts