Nyck de Vries, the reigning world champion, won from third place on the grid, 0.6 seconds ahead of Mercedes teammate Stoffel Vandoorne.
After missing virtually all of the weekend’s first practise session due to a crash, De Vries made a full recovery during the remaining sessions, resulting in him taking advantage of Vandoorne’s attack mode blunder to win the season opener.
Vandoorne qualified first and led into Turn 1 ahead of his teammate, who had gotten ahead of Jake Dennis.
Vandoorne, on the other hand, kept de Vries at bay in the early stages, looking every bit as good as his lead when an early safety car was deployed to rescue Oliver Rowland’s crashed Mahindra, which slammed into the wall during a close-quarters duel with Robin Frijns.
Rowland had given Frijns more than a passing push into the wall in Turn 14, and the Envision driver returned the favour with a nudge from behind two corners later. Frijns’ aggressive play earned him a drive-through penalty, effectively eliminating his chances of finishing the season opener with a point.
Vandoorne wasted little time after the restart, opting not to follow the pack and instead of charging forward to maintain his advantage. However, when attempting to establish a lead, the Belgian made a mistake on his second attack mode activation, allowing de Vries to take the lead.
The defending champion stayed strong, and despite Vandoorne’s best efforts to make up for his earlier error by cutting into de Vries’ lead, the Dutchman had the better of him in a brilliantly handled victory. Mercedes’ dominance guaranteed that the front two finished more than eight seconds ahead of third-placed Dennis, who rounded off the podium.
Dennis finished third, but he didn’t have an easy time getting there. He was involved in a furious fight with Porsche’s Andre Lotterer, who was having trouble managing his energy.
After Dennis made it through, he finished third comfortably, while Lotterer slumped to 13th. Lucas di Grassi finished fourth in his debut race with Venturi, ahead of Sam Bird.
In the second Venturi, Edoardo Mortara recovered from poor qualifying performance to finish sixth, with Nick Cassidy and Jean-Eric Vergne rounding out the top eight.
Oliver Askew secured points in his Formula E debut, finishing ninth after charging into the top ten in the final laps.
Mitch Evans finished 10th in the Jaguar to round off the points in Saudi Arabia.