Hyderabad E-Prix – Jean-Eric Vergne held off Nick Cassidy despite a big energy defecit to take victory in Hyderabad while Jaguar’s race imploded.
Track limit mayhem in qualifying saw five of the eight quarter-finalists have times cancelled which meant Jean-Eric Vergne, who had lost his duel ended up getting into the semi-finals and not having to battle anyone in it. He ended up losing out to Mitch Evans in the final while Sebastian Buemi, who lost in the semi-finals was P3.
As the lights went green there was no change to the top six with Evans cutting across Vergne off the line to hold his spot at the front, however before the end of the lap Nick Cassidy made a lunge down the inside of Sam Bird work and demoted the Jaguar driver to P7.
Race Results – 2023 Hyderabad E-Prix
Lap 2 saw Edoardo Mortara lose his front wing as he locked up and straight lined into the side of Cassidy, The Envision seemed to be alright but the Maserati driver fell down towards the back of the pack from P8 before finally heading to the pits for repairs at the end of lap 4.
The first of the top ten or championship contenders to active Attack Mode was Jake Dennis who took two minutes and used it to make his way into the points places.
Lap 7 saw all the action happen at the front with Buemi making a move on Vergne just as Evans moved off line to activate his first two minutes of Attack Mode. That meant the Swiss racer was up into P1 while the Jaguar driver briefly fell to P4 behind Sacha Fenestraz and used most of his first minute to regain a podium place. The Kiwi’s radio wasn’t played over the broadcast as it was apparently full of colourful language but the commentators translated it to the fact he wasn’t particularly happy with the team’s strategy decision.
Buemi took his first two minutes of Attack on lap 9 but he managed to only fall back behind Vergne to P2 and was back to the front a lap later when Vergne took a single minute of Attack Mode and also managed to stay ahead of Evans.
Jaguar’s day became a disaster on lap 13 when Bird tried to go down the inside of Fenestraz for P4 at the hairpin but got onto the dust and slid into his teammate. The two cars were out and both Fenestraz and Maximilian Guenther got caught up in the incident and fell to the back of the pack too.
While that chaos happened Vergne took his final three minutes of Attack and on lap 15 he was back into the lead when Buemi activated the last of his own. Nick Cassidy slipped into P2 while his teammate went off line to the activation zone and Dennis moved into P3 ahead of the Swiss driver.
Envision were back into double podium spots on lap 18 when Dennis took his last few minutes of the higher power mode and as track limit warnings and time penalties started to be handed out, the Andretti driver was one of those given a black and white warning flag and would have to be very careful for the remaining laps if he wanted to avoid a penalty.
On lap 23 the Safety Car was deployed for Jake Hughes, whose McLaren was stopped on track after hitting the wall, in his radio message after the incident he told his team the mirror got stuck behind the steering wheel.
The race got back underway on lap 26 and McLaren became the second team with a double DNF as Rene Rast went into the back of Dennis at the hairpin. Both drivers headed straight to the pits at the end of that lap, the German to retire while the Andretti racer had picked up a puncture and rejoined at the back of the pack.
That collision did open the door for Oliver Rowland however as he moved his Mahindra into P4, giving them hope of a home podium. There was a slight scare for the race leader on lap 29 when the Race Control message board said Vergne was being given a black flag for track limits, but that was soon corrected to a black and white warning.
Antonio Felix da Costa got past Rowland for P4 on lap 30 while at the front the top three were all within a second of each other while Cassidy was right on Vergne’s tail but had 4% more energy in reserve than the Penske driver.
The last few laps were a perfect demonstration of defensive driving and energy management from Vergne as he held off Cassidy and started the final lap with 1% of energy remaining. Buemi crossed the line in P3 but was quickly put under investigation for overuse of power and a few minutes later he was handed a drive through penalty converted into 17 seconds added to his race time. That meant that da Costa, in his 100th E-Prix, was moved up into P3 for Porsche.
At the chequered flag the track limit time penalties were applied which changed the order up and promoted Pascal Wehrlein, in the other Porsche, to P4 while it was a fantastic day for NIO 333 with Sergio Sette Camara taking home P5 for the team.
Rowland took P6 for Mahindra after his penalty while Norman Nato was the only Nissan in the points in P7 and he looks like he’ll be taking the points for fastest lap in the top ten with a 1:14.698 as Nico Mueller, who put in a 1:14.656 was P11. Vandoorne took P8 with Andre Lotterer in P9 for Andretti and Mortara was in the final top ten spot getting a point despite losing his wing and falling to the back early in the race.
However, as Race Control notes, there are still multiple track limit investigations going on.