The spotlights are turned on to Diriyah’s night and one of the most beautiful and drawn out races of the last few years of Formula E takes place under the artificial lights. Pascal Wehrlein, author of a high-level performance from ninth position on the starting grid thanks to an extremely careful strategy, especially in energy management.
After a waiting first part of the race, in which he was in any case able to get back into the top five, towards the middle of the race the German began to rejoin the group and become more and more threatening to the leading riders, being able to count on a 2 % more battery than rivals.
After attempting to overtake Sam Bird on several occasions, capable of making the difference coming out of turn 17, making the attack on the chicane extremely complex going on the dirtiest line, about ten laps from the end the decisive move arrived which ensured the victory to the German, with a good braking at 18.
Being able to count on a minimal – but very important – amount of extra energy, Wehrlein was then able to push to ensure that useful gap to activate the last Attack Mode while still maintaining the lead of the race, then repelling the final assault by a Jake Dennis who didn’t want to give up. In fact, after starting from twelfth position, the Briton was the author of a sublime performance, even in his case building the comeback on a tactical vision in which he was able to perfectly balance the waiting phases with those of attack.
Probably, with one more lap available, the Andretti driver would have been able to attempt a lunge but, net of the victory that escaped by only half a second, undoubtedly both the team and Dennis can end the day with a smile. A test as a pretender to the title, but also a message to the opponents. Qualifying had deceived, because in the race the values were completely overturned, bringing the Porsche-powered cars back into the limelight which, just like in Mexico City, performed well, conquering victory and top positions.
Third place for Sam Bird, who after taking the lead after about ten laps, seemed to have the pace to attempt a breakaway, which however did not materialise. It is no coincidence that, considering the gradual comeback of the Porsche motorized cars from the rear, around the twentieth lap from the pits they had suggested that he should push to increase the gap from the train behind him, however having the opposite effect of putting him in crisis with management of energy.
While trying on several occasions to maintain his position in the lead with a strenuous defense before the chicane, the Briton was unable to do much against Wehrlein first and then Dennis, having to settle for final third position. However, it is an encouraging podium, both for him and for Jaguar, which at least in this first round in Diriyah was able to play an active role in the fight at the top.
Buemi managed to keep the lead at the start, before being overtaken by Bird and the Porsche-powered comeback. Behind Rast and Evans made contact.
Photo by: Alastair Staley / Motorsport Images
After the pole position in the afternoon, Sebastien Buemi probably had some more hope for the race, but the Swiss also had to surrender to the Porsche-powered ones, however managing to resist the final attack from Rast’s McLaren thanks to shrewd energy management . Although he has never been a leading actor, the Envision driver was the author of a race completed for a long time in the podium area, then concluded with a fourth place.
After a lackluster performance in Mexico, Rast needed a test of pride and in Saudi Arabia he didn’t disappoint, managing to bring home a fifth position which he will try to improve on tomorrow.
Also noteworthy is the comeback by Nick Cassidy with the other Envision, who in qualifying hadn’t convinced him by missing the decisive paw in the key phase of the group fight, however coming out in the long distance. First points of the season for Jean Eric Vergne thanks to seventh place under the checkered flag, ahead of a Hughes dropped in the final after starting from the front row, André Lotterer with the other Andretti and Mitch Evans to conclude the top ten. The New Zealander also had to serve a five-second penalty for a contact with Rast in the very early stages of the race.
The contact that involved Da Costa at the start of the race, forcing him to return to the pits to change the front wing.
Photo by: Carl Bingham / Motorsport Images
Out of the points Di Grassi with the Mahindra, as well as the two Nissans of Nato and Fenestraz: the latter was also forced to an unexpected stop, having damaged the nose when he was trying to activate Attack Mode.
After the good performance in qualifying, Dan Ticktum was unable to confirm himself in the race, slipping to fourteenth place.
Unlucky Antonio Felix da Costa, forced to a pit stop already at the end of the first lap to replace the front wing, while Maserati is still delayed: Max Gunther did not take part in the race after due to the damages remedied in qualifying in a violent impact against the barriers, while Edoardo Mortara was forced to retire due to a technical problem, in what in any case was turning into an anonymous performance in the rear.
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