Wehrlein storms to Race 1 win in Diriyah E-Prix


Porsche's Pascal Wehrlein stormed through field after starting ninth to conquer Formula E's second round of the 2023 in Diriyah in Saudi Arabia.

The Porsche driver edged Avalanche Andretti and championship leader Jake Dennis who also put in a scintillating charge while Jaguar's Sam Bird completed the podium 3.5 seconds adrift from the winner.

A 21-car field led by poleman Sebastian Buemi lined up on the grid but with Maserati's Maximilian Guenther missing from its ranks, the German sidelined from the race due to his car suffering excessive damage in a qualifying crash.

Commotion was triggered at the outset when Antonio Felix Da Costa's was on the receiving end of a melee that also included Mitch Evans and Rene Rast. The Portuguese drive was forced to head to the pits for some minor repairs before rejoining proceedings a lap down.

On lap 4, Bird overtook McLaren's Jake Hughes for second, the Jaguar driver then chasing down Buemi and overtaking the Swiss by lap 8.

In the meantime, Dennis also carved his way through the pack, making the most of his first attack mode and of the subsequent boost of energy delivered to his Porsche drivetrain.

As the race entered its second half and unfolded, a relentless Wehrlein eventually caught Bird to battle intensely with the Briton for the lead. After failing to dispatch the Jaguar charger on several occasions, Wehrlein finally made it passed his rival on lap 30.

Meanwhile, Dennis had moved past Hughes and Envision's Nick Cassidy, and then gained the upper hand over Rast to snatch fourth. But that position became third when Buemi took his attack mode.

With just five laps to go and Dennis still on a tear, Wehrlein's lead was carefully managed by Porsche's strategists. But the German's energy levels had depleted more that his Porsche-powered Andretti rival who closed within 0.775s of the leader.

A straight battle ensued between the pair but Wehrlein held his own to take his second career win in Formula E – the duo reversing the finishing positions they had enjoyed in Mexico City.

"The race was just amazing. I knew we had the pace even though qualifying didn't quite go as planned, although P9 was not so bad," Wehrlein said.

"I knew that we could make up some positions but I never imagined that we would win the race.

"The strategy was perfect, the car felt amazing and I was able to save quite a lot of energy and use it for the overtakes. Strategy-wise, the times we took attack mode worked perfectly.

"I'm just very happy and grateful for the race car that I had today. I know that everyone in the team is working so hard and especially in the last couple of months; our mission is to win, we want to win the championship.

"And with Jake again for a 1-2, it just shows how much we've grown as a team - I'm lost for words!

"We were using the energy at the right time, I stayed for quite a long time in the slipstream and I was trying to be quite close there and invest [in energy] when I needed to invest."

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