Diriyah E-Prix 2 – Pascal Wehrlein and Jake Dennis once again took 1-2 in Diriyah as they eclipsed the McLarens and Jaguars who were stronger in qualifying
After another very impressive showing in qualifying, Jake Hughes secured his first Formula E pole position after beating Mitch Evans in the final duel. It was a full 22 car grid that lined up for the second Diriyah race, Maserati having pulled an all nighter to fix up Maximilian Guenther’s car after damage in qualifying yesterday saw him have to sit out the race.
Once the smoke from the burnouts heading to the grid cleared, the lights went out and the race was underway. Hughes’ time at the head of the pack didn’t last overly long however as Evans got a great start and took the lead heading into the first corner.
There was a good bit of change behind Rene Rast in P3, Pascal Wehrlein and Edoardo Mortara moving from P5 and P7 into P4 and P5, while Sebastien Buemi fell back two places from P4. Mortara moving up meant Jake Dennis was demoted a place to P7 while the reigning champion, Stoffel Vandoorne, lost P8 to Sam Bird. In the early stages the final point position remained with the driver who’d started there, Guenther.
On lap 9 the race leader was the first of the top ten to take Attack Mode, the Jaguar racer falling back to P3 after activating three of his four minute allocation. A lap later Hughes activated his first two minutes and fell back behind Evans. However, things worked out much better for Rast, the German took over at the front when his teammate moved offline into the activation zone and on lap 11 he activated his first two minutes but managed to hold onto and then extend his lead.
Lap 12 saw a new driver into the podium positions. Wehrlein, with more energy remaining was able to get past Hughes and then on the following lap move ast Evans and into P2. The Porsche driver hadn’t even used any of his Attack Mode at that time.
Wehrlein took the first three minutes of his additional power time on lap 15 and he continued to steadily reel Rast in. The fourth different leader of the race came on lap 17 when Rast took his final two minutes of Attack Mode while Wehrlein was right on his tail and that handed the Porsche driver the lead.
In the middle of the points positions Mortara, Dennis and Bird were all squabbling over P5, the Andretti driver initially looking to move ahead of the Maserati but instead falling into the clutches of Bird. Lap 22 though saw Dennis make a move stick on the Swiss racer and then Bird followed through behind him.
The following lap and Dennis was up into P4 when Hughes went off line to take his final Attack Mode and then the Andretti driver’s charge continued as he proceeded to demote Evans at the end of the same lap. After quite a static opening portion of the race, the Dennis charge was almost unstoppable as lap 24 then saw Rast fall victim.
On lap 25 Dennis activated the first minute of his Attack Mode while a few places back, Bird slipped past Evans to take P4 and then continue on to put Jaguar back on the podium when he went down the inside of the McLaren into the chicane.
The Safety Car was called out on lap 27 when Nico Mueller slid into the wall at T18 as he was trying to make an overtake. The pack having to close up behind the Safety Car meant that the big gap Wehrlein had pulled out was negated so that meant that Dennis, with three minutes of Attack Mode still waiting to be used and Bird, with all four minutes still to play with, and more energy in his battery would both be looking to improve their positions.
The race was back underway at the end of lap 30, Dennis half a second behind the race leader and Bird another half second behind the Andretti. On lap 32 Dennis and Bird activated three minutes of Attack, Dennis holding P2 but Bird fell back behind Rast. The Jaguar racer made to move back ahead of the McLaren at the chicane on the following lap but couldn’t slow down enough and went into the runoff and lost a good bit of time to the German.
As soon as Bird had used his three minutes he activated his final one but that only got him right back onto Rast’s tail, right behind them there was another McLaren/Jaguar battle between the race’s front row starters Hughes and Evans.
Thanks to the time behind the Safety Car there was one lap added to the race but that made no difference to the podium positions and it was a third Porsche powered 1-2 of the year with Wehrlein winning ahead of Dennis exactly the same as yesterday.
Rast manage to hold off Bird for P3 preventing a carbon copy of yesterday’s podium to take his and McLaren’s first podium of the year.
Behind them though Hughes ran out of power at the end but Evans, who was right behind him, ended up pushing him over the finish line as the Jaguar’s nose got caught on the back of the McLaren and that allowed Buemi to slip past to take P6 from the Kiwi in the final few metres.
The final few points positions saw first points of the season for each driver and team – Sacha Fenestraz came home P8 for Nissan’s. Mortara and Maserati in P9 and NIO 333’s Dan Ticktum in P10.