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Diriyah E-Prix: Wehrlein and Porsche put on a masterclass as they power through to victory

Porsche powertrains dominate in Diriyah with Wehrlein and Dennis taking the top two spots.

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Formula E put on a show tonight as Pascal Wehrlein gained eight places to win at the Diriyah E-Prix.
Wehrlein crowd surfs at the podium ceremony in Diriyah. Credit: FIAFormulaE.com

After an exciting qualifying which saw Sebastien Buemi on pole, the Diriyah E-Prix unfolded in dramatic fashion.

It looked like Buemi and Sam Bird, who started in P2, would be battling it out for victory. But, Porsche powertrains prevailed as Wehrlein and Dennis stormed through the field.

A Lap 1 Safety Car

Sebastien Buemi had a good start and seemed to streak ahead making up a relatively big gap considering it was still lap 1.

All the drivers were trying to make an impact during the first lap. Dan Ticktum tried to make a move on the start but locked up going into the first corner. DS Penske’s Stoff Vandoorne streaked past two Nissans during the first lap.

A safety car came out on Lap 1 when Antonio Felix Da Costa lost his front wing after being squeezed by the Mahindras and making contact with Oliver Rowland. This closed Buemi’s gap and neutralised the field.

Mitch Evans also made contact with Rene Rast. He was given a five-second time penalty much later on in the race.

A battle of centurions

Sam Bird came into this evening’s race saying he wanted to make an impact… which he did. Bird overtook Jake Hughes on Lap 3. This put him in second and hot on the rear of Buemi.

In their 100th race, Sam Bird overtook Buemi on Lap 7 and streaked away. He settled into a seemingly dominant drive and maintained the lead.

Making Moves lower down the field

On Lap 9, with Bird and Buemi driving at the front, we saw our first glimpse of the moves that Porsche’s Wehrlein would eventually be making. Rene Rast locked up into the chicane on Lap 9 and Wehrlein breezed past.

Another Porsche powertrain user, Jake Dennis, also showed us his potential when he overtook Jean-Eric Vergne and then used attack mode to get past Lucas di Grassi.

Laps 11 to 16

On Lap 11 many drivers started to use their attack mode with Ticktum, Dennis, Van der Linde and Mueller all using part of their allotted time.

Fenestraz tried to join the attack mode lot on Lap 12 by moving off the racing line but accidentally overshot it and hit the wall.

In the meantime, Wehrlein made even more moves and got past both Ticktum and Rast when the McLaren locked up and the NIO driver went deep into a corner.

By Lap 13, Bird had made up a dominant gap of nearly two seconds and was using attack mode to try and build up an even bigger gap. It looked like the Jaguar driver was approaching victory on his 99th FE race.

By Lap 16, Jake Hughes was looking set for a podium but was trying to defend against Wehrlein. When the Brit finally used attack mode he dropped back to fifth place.

Halfway Mark

Halfway through the race, Wehrlein was sitting in third place and the top 6 were: Bird, Buemi, Wehrlein, Rast, Hughes and Dennis.

Despite Bird and Buemi still holding the top two spots at the halfway mark, Wehrlein was very close to catching the Swiss and was getting within inches of the Envision.

Buemi, who had not activated Attack Mode yet, was biding his time before going through the sequence as he knew he would lose position the moment he did. This was basically a guaranteed P2 for Wehrlein.

On Lap 22, Championship leader Jake Dennis was getting as close as possible to the back of Jake Hughes’ McLaren.

Also during lap 22, Buemi finally went into attack mode. The Porsche of Pascal Wehrlein then got through so easily that he caught up with Sam Bird.

Laps 25 to 29

With Wehrlein hunting Bird down, Bird had used his last minute of attack mode defending and Wehrlein still had a minute left of his, it looked as though the Porsche powertrain would take him to the lead.

On Lap 25, Wehrlein tried to overtake Bird, he got in front, he locked up and ran wide. Wehrlein was extremely late on the brakes and appeared to have locked the rears.

Despite Bird surviving the initial attack, a new one was imminent as Wehrlein had caught up and Bird’s energy was going down quickly. Bird’s energy was such a concern that his engineers, on Lap 27, asked him to save energy and effectively coast in the downhill part of the track.

On Lap 28, the front six cars were all making moves. Bird was defending hard against Wehrlein whilst Jake Dennis overtook Jake Hughes in a clean move down the back straight.

Both Wehrlein and Dennis had much more energy left than those around them ad it became obvious that they would be fighting right until the last lap.

Pascal Wehrlein was unrelenting in his chase of Sam Bird and even got up alongside him on lap 28.

10 laps left

It became clear that Sam Bird would struggle towards the end of the race as he was in a 2% energy deficit to Pascal Wehrlein.

Finally, on Lap 30, in the same place where Wehrlein took the lead for a brief moment, he made another move. The German overtook Bird into Turn 18, got the inside line, kept it clean and took the lead.

Whilst the overtake for the lead happened, another important overtake took place. Jake Dennis overtook Sebastien Buemi to get up into a podium position.

At this point, it looked like it would be a Wehrlein victory with Sam Bird and Jake Dennis coming home in second and third respectively.

However, on Lap 33, it got even more exciting. Despite Dennis’ radio not working he was informed that he had 6.5 laps left and 2% more energy than Bird. Knowing this, he made his move on Bird into Turn 18 and looked like he was going to catch up to Wehrlein in the lead.

As soon as Dennis overtook Bird, Pascal Wehrlein, in a moment of genius, went through the Attack Mode sequence and used up his remaining second of extra power.

With four laps left, Dennis had one extra percent of energy and looked like he was going to be trying to make an overtake for the lead.

On the last lap, Dennis brought the fight. He was incredibly fast on the straights and looked like he might catch Wehrlein. Even into the last corner, the two drivers were racing hard.

In the end, Pascal Wehrlein took the victory and showed off the true dominance of the Porsche powertrain.

Formula E races again tomorrow. Will Porsche powertrains make it three for three?

Although Wehrlein won the Diriyah E-Prix, and Jake Dennis came second, he still remains in P2 in the championship standings. Although the German driver is equal with the Andretti driver in terms of results, Dennis has an extra point after getting the fastest lap in Mexico City.

The final classification
Wehrlein won the Diriyah E-Prix with Dennis and Bird getting podium places. here is the final classification. Credit: FIAFormulaE.com

Feature Image: Formula E, FiaFormulaE.com

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