Alexander and BMW i Andretti Motorsport both made their racing debuts in the all-electric ABB FIA Formula E Championship on 15 December 2018, with the Ad Diriyah E-Prix kicking off the 2018/19 season in Saudi Arabia.
Rain showers on race day morning caused delays and disruption, with standing water forcing both Free Practice sessions to be cancelled. A further practice session was added ahead of Qualifying, which was subsequently split into two 11-driver groups rather than the usual four due to the delays.
Alexander was placed in Group B for Qualifying, where he experienced further disruption as Maximillian Gunther stopped on-track due to damage, causing a red flag. With the session live again, Alexanders’ 250kW flying lap was impeded by a late crash from Felix Rosenqvist. Alexander qualified 17th, yet a host of penalties for drivers exceeding the maximum number of laps and maximum power usage when hitting bumps in the track moved Alexander up to tenth on the grid.
Behind the wheel of his #27 BMW iFE.18, Alexander had a strong start to the race, holding his own mid-pack and moving up to ninth on the first lap. Throughout the race, Alexander was involved in plenty of battles and ran as high as eighth. However, the power regeneration issues seen in qualifying would impact him and he received a drive-through penalty and a further 10-second stop-and-go penalty for technical infringements, putting him in 18th place when he crossed the finish line.
Alexander’ BMW team-mate, António Félix da Costa, illustrated the competitiveness of the BMW iFE.18 by securing pole and going on to win the first race of the season after a hard-fought battle with reigning champion Jean-Eric Vergne.
“My first Formula E weekend was a big challenge and I learned a great deal,” said Alexander. “António did a fantastic job with pole position and the win, and showed how fast our car is. After a difficult qualifying session, I was actually doing quite well in the race in eighth place, but then two penalties unfortunately pushed me right down the field. Despite this, the weekend has made me optimistic for the upcoming races.”
The next round of the ABB FIA Formula E Championship will take place on 12 January 2019 in Marrakech, Morocco.