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Diriyah E-Prix: Round 2 Race 1 Results

Who took the spoils in the first race of this weekend's double header?

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Jake Dennis won the first of two races in Diriyah in a dominant performance. 

Jake Dennis on track during qualifying for the Diyirah E-Prix (Image Credit: Simon Galloway/Formula E)

Jake Dennis on track during qualifying for the Diyirah E-Prix (Image Credit: Simon Galloway/Formula E)

All eyes were on Pascal Wehrlein’s Porsche as Formula E prepared to take to the streets of Diriyah under the lights. Could he continue his strong start to the 2024 season? Diriyah’s challenging layout presented a challenge for the drivers, with scores to settle throughout the paddock after a dramatic last time out in Mexico.

Qualifying

As the cars prepared to go out, the dusty track became another factor for the drivers to consider. Practice indicated lap times three seconds slower than last year’s pole position.

Group A’s session was quiet despite the odd slides from both Jaguars. The dying seconds of the sector proved frenetic, with Nick Cassidy’s Jaguar, reigning champion Jake Dennis’s Andretti, and the second Jaguar of Mitch Evans, Wehrlein, going through to the duels after a tight battle.

Group B’s vibe was similar. Sergio Sette Camara’s ERT sat at the top of the times, followed by Max Guenther’s Maserati and Sam Bird’s McLaren. A traffic jam formed as the cars prepared for their final laps. Wanting to be the last driver across the start line, all made it with seconds to spare. Jean-Eric Vergne jumped to the top of the timesheets, with Guenther and Norman Nato’s Andretti joining Sette Camara in the duels.  Once again, McLaren fell away at the final hurdle, dropping out of the top four.

The final duel for pole position was between Evans and Vergne, Jaguar vs Penske. Vergne emerged victorious after a Titanic battle where neither driver had the upper hand. The Penske took pole by just 0.072s.

Shock exits Sebastien Bueimi, Antonio Felix de Costa, and Stoffel Vandoorne would all need strong races to come through the field. This was not a given on a track where starting position is crucial. De Costa’s three-place grid penalty following his incident with Nico Mueller only rubbed further salt in the wound on a bad day.

Lights out leads to Cat and Mouse

Nick Cassidy reported a power issue on the way to the grid, with nervous faces at Jaguar as the cars took their place on the grid. At lights out, Vergne got away well and led into turn one. Sette Camera took P2 from Dennis, Dennis running wide and rejoining third, but retook P2.  Sette Camara rejoined in a strong P4. Bird was the big winner initially, his McLaren moving from P9 to P5. Fenestraz endured a nightmare race, retiring after an incident at the first corner.

Championship leader Weirlien had a nightmare start and was languishing down in P9 from his P6 grid spot. Vergne employed attack mode on lap 2, dropping to third. Evans and Dennis now had the top positions, but Vergne had a distinct advantage. Evans responded one lap later by taking attack mode, he and Vergne squeezing each other. The battle helped Dennis, who pulled away in P1, opting to build the gap between Vergne and Evans for one more lap.

Vergne retook the lead by a whisper when the Andretti pulled over for his attack mode, but he was now ahead of Evans. He once again pulled over for attack mode on lap eight but lost position to Evans and was unable to repass. Dennis took advantage of the battle, taking attack mode, still emerging in P1.

Behind the top three, a large train of cars formed. Nato, Sette Camara, Bird, Cassidy and Gunther all raced line astern, with no one making a move for the extra horsepower of attack mode. At the bottom of the order, De Vries, Di Grassi, Darulva, and Ticktum engaged in a game of cat and mouse in attack mode but could not move forward.

The race had settled by lap 11, with drivers getting into a rhythm. That was until Evans dived down the inside of Vergne into turn one on lap 13, catching the Frenchman by surprise. Not finished, Evans tried to pass leader Dennis on lap 14 but ran wide and was forced to defend second place—Vergne took second place on lap 17 with a dramatic move. The gap increased to Dennis in front, but now energy consumption was beginning to come into play.

Nose-to-tail running

With the top three out of attack mode boost entirely, Norman Nato’s fourth place Andretti still acted as a bottle cork.  No driver from P6 to P14 had taken any from fear of losing track position. Evans began to fall into the clutches of this group, his pace disappearing.  Leader Dennis now had 2% more energy than his rivals.

Lap 23 was the chosen moment for the train of cars, as Sette Camara, Gunther, Wehrlein, Hughes, Buemi and Frijns took their first attack mode. Cassidy’s Jaguar hit the wall but mercifully suffered no damage as he continued, setting the fastest lap in the process.

Team orders were implemented at Jaguar, Mitch Evans being told to move over for the fast-moving Nick Cassidy but refusing to do so. Compromising their afternoon for just one lap, Cassidy could deploy his attack mode, with his teammate playing rear gunner. Sam Bird took his remaining energy on lap 26, pushing to close on Norman Nato, but could not take P4 from Cassidy once the Jaguar took his Attack Mode.

The Jaguars exchanged positions again, with Sam Bird looming in the background. Timing for Cassidy was essential; if he timed taking his extra energy incorrectly, Bird would split the two Jaguars or possibly beat them both. Cassidy timed his move to perfection on lap 33, beating the McLaren. With Vergne making a mistake and dropping six seconds behind leader Dennis, the two Jaguars sensed second place.

Vergne slowed dramatically but kept P2. As the cars entered the final lap, Evans tried to make a move but ran wide and dropped to fifth.  Wehrlein’s race struggled to get any form of momentum, stuck down in P9, unable to pass Sette Camara, but able to defend from Jake Hughes. Vandoorne and de Vries also endured underwhelming afternoons, stuck in the lower order.

Dennis took a dominant win, his first of the season, winning by 13 seconds from Vergne, Cassidy, Bird, and Evans.

Final Classification

Feature Image Credit: Alastair Staley/Formula E 

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