Formula E: Pascal Wehrlein holds off Jake Dennis to win thrilling first race in Diriyah
Porsche’s Pascal Wehrlein took victory in Round 2 of the Formula E World Championship to complete another dominant outing alongside runner-up Jake Dennis at the 2023 CORE Diriyah E-Prix.
It is the second successive one-two finish for the pair after the Brit pipped the German to the chequered flag in the curtain raiser in Mexico City.
Wehrlein and Dennis started in P9 and P11 respectively but demonstrated the supremacy of their shared Porsche powertrain to leave the bulk of the grid in their wake in an enthralling race under the night-time lights at the Riyadh Street Circuit.
The pair are now well clear of the chasing pack in the Drivers’ Championship with Avalanche Andretti’s Dennis on 44 points – one ahead of Wehrlein, himself twenty points ahead of third-placed Sebastien Buemi of Envision Racing after just two rounds.
Jaguar’s Sam Bird finished third – his first podium in almost two years on his 100th race in Formula E – but the day belonged to Wehrlein who secured just his second victory in the all-electric racing series on his 50th start.
“It feels incredible”, he said after the race. “I am so proud of these guys, what a car I had today. I mean from P9 to P1, amazing, I am so grateful to have this team.
“It has been a lot of work. We always wanted to achieve these kinds of results; we had some highlights in the past but definitely this year we wanted to do a big step forward.
“I know how hard these guys are working. I am also quite often with them and pushing with everyone, especially after the testing in Valencia we were not looking that strong, so I know how many hours everyone has put in. To start this well in the season in the first and second race is amazing, like I said I am just thankful for everyone and their hard work – now we keep pushing.”
Wehrlein looked the quickest on the track as he picked his way through the points-paying positions to the front of the pack. The move for the lead came on Lap 30 at Turn 16, with Bird unable to hold back Wehrlein’s 99X Electric Gen3.
Dennis took the fight all the way to the line with his factory Porsche counterpart from all the way back in 11th on the grid, but he couldn’t find a way past.
Buemi started in Julius Baer Pole Position and finished in fourth, his best finish since the Season 6 finale in Berlin.
McLaren Formula E Team’s René Rast started fifth and ended fifth following a long battle in middle of the points-paying positions. He also sealed the TAG Heuer Fastest Lap.
Nick Cassidy made it two Envision Racing cars in the top six. Jean-Éric Vergne fought from 12th to the points for DS PENSKE, winding up just ahead of Jake Hughes in the sister McLaren. André Lotterer (Avalanche Andretti) and Mitch Evans (Jaguar TCS Racing) rounded out the top 10 – the latter slipping from sixth on the grid.
The second race in the 2023 CORE Diriyah E-Prix double-header is tomorrow night, Saturday 28 January, starting at 17:00 GMT.