Porsche dominance in Saudi Arabia: At the second Formula E race weekend, Pascal Wehrlein won both races ahead of Jake Dennis (Andretti-Porsche). The Stuttgart seems to have built the best drive of the Gen3 cars. The competition will have to struggle to stand up to Porsche.
Porsche is now driving in Formula E for the fourth year. After less successful years, the sports car manufacturer is now starting to fly high. In Diriyah, factory driver Pascal Wehrlein hit twice, while customer driver Jake Dennis landed just behind him twice. The German turned around the result from the start of the season in Mexico City. Two weeks ago, the Englishman won ahead of Wehrlein. Thus, all three races of the new Gen3 cars in Formula E went to racing cars with Porsche power. Coincidence? Hardly likely. The 99X Electric is the car to beat.
The people in Stuttgart seem to have done the best job, especially when it comes to energy efficiency. The competition is bigger for one round, as the qualifying showed. On Friday and Saturday, Wehrlein started from 9th and 5th place. Sébastien Buemi (Envision-Jaguar) secured pole position in his 100th Formula E race on Friday. It was the 15th of his career, tying the record with Jean-Éric Vergne. Next to Buemi, Jake Hughes (McLaren) started the race, Sam Bird (Jaguar) qualified 3rd, Dan Ticktum caused a surprise in the NIO with 4th place.
Maximilian Günther (Maserati-DS) was unable to take part in the first race due to a qualifying accident on Friday. The Bavarian flew off so hard in turn 11 that even the monocoque had to be replaced.
Bird sets off fireworks
When the traffic lights went out on Friday (27.1.), the top 4 kept their positions, behind them there was a traffic jam because Mitch Evans pushed René Rast out in his Jaguar. Lucas di Grassi had to brake, Mahindra teammate Oliver Rowland drove into the rear of the Brazilian, António Félix da Costa crashed into Rowland's car and had to get a new nose. Race director Scot Elkins decided to deploy the safety car. After one lap there was already a restart. Evans received a 5 second penalty for the action. Wehrlein benefited from the skirmish and was already in 6th place.
The restart didn't change anything at the top. On lap four, Sam Bird pushed past Jake Hughes for second place. Three laps later, Buemi was also due. The Jaguar driver pulled away from the competition and initially controlled the race. In the 13th lap, Bird activated his Attack Mode for three minutes and was able to keep the lead thanks to the lead.
Porsche revs up
Wehrlein had already snatched P5 from Rast, shortly after that he was in 4th place because Dan Ticktum lost places due to the activation of his attack mode. Shortly thereafter, the former Formula 1 driver switched to Attack Mode for three minutes.Although Wehrlein put a lot of pressure on Hughes, he couldn't get past. Only when the McLaren man fell behind Wehrlein and Rast by activating the extra power did the 28-year-old attack.
The Porsche works driver quickly caught up with Buemi, on lap 24 he passed the Swiss without a fight when he picked up the additional service. The leader Sam Bird had already activated the remaining 60 seconds of the four-minute attack mode, but gradually lost his lead. On lap 25, Wehrlein made the first overtaking attempt before turn 18, but braked too late, allowing Bird to slip through again.
Five laps later, the time had come: At the same point, Bird had nothing to oppose and Wehrlein took the lead, which he defended to the finish. The victory surprised him because of the starting position himself: "I never believed that I could win. Our strategy was perfect." Behind him came Porsche customer Jake Dennis, who had the most reserves at the end. Bird completed the podium.
On Saturday, Jake Hughes went from 1st place into the second race, Mitch Evans qualified 2nd, René Rast was the best German in qualifying in third place.
Mitch Evans won the start, passing Hughes on the inside, Wehrlein overtook Buemi and was in 4th place. After that, the race was initially very tactical. On lap 9, Evans activated attack mode for three minutes as the first in the leading group and fell behind the two McLarens in 3rd place. Hughes and Rast each requested the additional kW one lap later. The three-time DTM champion even retained the lead.
However, Wehrlein was in wait again. On lap 12, the Porsche driver first grabbed Hughes and one lap later Jaguar driver Evans. Shortly thereafter, Wehrlein chose the first phase of his Attack Mode. He opted for the three-minute variant and stayed second. When the leader Rast activated his remaining two minutes of the additional service after 17 laps, Wehrlein took the lead without a fight. The German retained this shortly afterwards when he ignited his attack mode for the second time.
World Championship lead for Wehrlein
Jake Dennis also plowed forward in his Andretti Porsche. After 24 laps, the Englishman was already in second place, although he hadn't requested any additional service. On lap 27, Scot Elkins deployed the safety car, just like the day before. Nico Müller overbraked the rear of his Abt Cupra in turn 18 and jammed his car, which was equipped with Mahindra power, into the Tecpro barriers. The returnees, with Kelvin van der Linde replacing Robin Frijns, who was injured in the hand, wrote the next zero in Diriyaa.
Three laps later, Elkins released the race again. Wehrlein stayed cool at the front and won, Dennis had to be content with second place.Behind him, an euphoric René Rast clinched the first podium for McLaren in Formula E: "I'm overjoyed, the team deserves it. They put in so much hard work."
With his double win, the new championship leader Pascal Wehrlein was only the fifth Formula E driver to do so in a double header. He was correspondingly happy afterwards: "I will never forget this weekend. The two victories are an incredible success. The whole team showed a fantastic performance this weekend." On February 11, Porsche wants to flex its muscles again at its debut in Hyderabad, India.