Jakarta E-Prix 1 – Porsche regained their early season dominance as Pascal Wehrlein once again led Jake Dennis home in the first of two Jakarta races.
So far Jakarta has been perfect for Maximilian Guenther, the Maserati MSG driver having topped both practices and been the fastest in each part of qualifying leading up to him taking his first Formula E pole. The issue the German now has to contend with however is that no driver has converted pole to a win this season.
Guenther is joined on the front row by Jake Dennis but the Andretti racer wasn’t able to hold that spot on the run to the first corner, getting swamped by both Pascal Wehrlein, who’d started P3 and Stoffel Vandoorne, P5.
For the first time this season there’s been a shake up with the Attack Mode being doubled this weekend with eight minutes to be used, with the uses split into 2-6, 4-4 or 6-2 chunks.
The first driver to take Attack Mode was Sebastien Buemi who’d fallen to the back after contact with Andretti stand-in David Beckmann, who’s deputising for Andre Lotterer while he prepares for Le Mans next weekend, Buemi was told to activate six minutes before heading to the pits to deal with a puncture.
Lap 4 saw Vandoorne be the first of the top runners to head to the activation zone, the reigning champion dropping to P5 as he activated his six minute chunk of power. The following lap saw Wehrlein take his two minutes and manage to hold onto P2 while he did it.
Wehrlein took over in the lead when Guenther took his six minutes with all the top four in the higher power at that stage with Vandoorne back in P3 ahead of Dennis. On lap 8 Wehrlein used up the second part of his Attack, possibly deciding to get it out of the way before the battery overheats in the Indonesian heat.
Porsche didn’t seem to be the only one to think that way, Guenther starting his second chunk of higher power on the following lap, the Maserati driver back in the lead ahead of Vandoorne and Wehrlein at that time.
Lap 16 saw Dennis drop back to P4 as he activated his final six minutes of Attack, Vergne behind him was in the last few seconds of his own power boost, so he wouldn’t be challenging the Brit as he made his way back to the front. It wasn’t long before he’d dispatched Vandoorne for the final podium spot and closed in on Guenther.
Championship leader, Nick Cassidy, had also been working his way forward after starting P10, lap 20 though could’ve gone very badly for him though as he made contact with Vergne as he tried to make a lunge on the Penske driver for P5.
Cassidy’s main championship rivals, Wehrlein and Dennis, were now sitting in first and second as the top three were all nose-to-tail with a little bit of a gap separating them from Vandoorne in P4.
Dennis made a move for the lead on lap 24 but Wehrlein was able to hold him off and even pull out a second;s worth of a gap when the failed attempt saw Guenther try and take advantage. No positions changed but the squabbling allowed Vandoorne, Vergne and Cassidy to catch up.
Cassidy dropped back to P7, behind Edoardo Mortara, on lap 25 when he activated his last six minutes of Attack Mode. While none ahead of him had any more higher power to use, the four drivers in the positions behind him – Mitch Evans, Rene Rast, Sam Bird and Antonio Felix da Costa – all followed suit and used up their own activations. However, the additional power wasn’t enough to see Cassidy move towards the podium, or even regain the P6 that he’d lost during his trip to the activation zone.
Heading into the final few laps and it was once again the top three in a race of their own and it felt like the early part of the season again when Wehrlein and Dennis traded 1-2s in the first few races.
The first yellow flag of the race came on lap 34, just as the commentators were saying we hadn’t seen any. The Jaguars of Evans and Bird made contact as they battled over P8, ending with the Kiwi rear-ending the barriers. He was able to extract himself and retire in the pits. There was then further yellows when Bird went into the barriers after contact with Rast which put pay to any hopes Jaguar had of points today.
Wehrlein took the chequered flag first, a relief after his run of lower top ten finishes in the last few months, while Dennis behind wasn’t overly happy with second. The Andretti driver annoyed with the dust on his side of the track at the start and with how Wehrlein swerved across him causing the Brit to slam on the brakes.
Guenther in P3 was a happier camper with P3 though he feels that there are things Maserati can improve on. The two Penskes of Vandoorne and Vergne came home in P4 and P5 ahead of Mortara and Cassidy. After all the late race incidents in the lower points positions it ended with da Costa taking P8 ahead of Robin Frijns and Jake Hughes.
The two rookie drivers, Beckmann and Roberto Merhi, finished their debut E-Prix in P16 and P18 respectively.