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Pascal Wehrlein

Jakarta E-Prix: A return to form for Wehrlein after a dominant drive

After a bit of a drought, Porsche looks to be back to its winning ways

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Pascal Wehrlein has reignited his championship charge after taking victory in a dominant drive reminiscent of the early season.

Porsche driver Pascal Wehrlein
It’s a much-needed return to form for Pascal Wehrlein and Porsche. (Image credit: @PorscheFormulaE on Twitter)

As the cars lined up on the grid ahead of the first race of the Jakarta double-header, a first-time polesitter took his position at the front. Maserati’s Maximilian Günther had been on top form all weekend, dominating both practice sessions before going on to secure pole position.

Nick Cassidy and Mitch Evans, who have been so strong as of late, started from P10 and P11 respectively. The two Kiwis had a mighty battle ahead of them if they hoped to be fighting at the front of the pack.

Meanwhile, it seemed like Pascal Wehrlein might be attempting to relight his championship battle; the Porsche driver started from P3, meaning a podium finish – and possibly even the win – was very much in reach.

The starting grid

Lights out…

Günther got off the line well, managing to hold onto the race lead into the first corner. On only the first lap, championship leader Nick Cassidy had already worked his way up two places into eighth. Stoffel Vandoorne had also had an excellent start, leaping up the grid from sixth to third.

Fortune hadn’t smiled on Jake Dennis quite as much, who had now slipped down to fourth. Another struggling driver was Sébastien Buemi, who was forced to pit after picking up a puncture on the first lap. The Envision driver was left stuck at the back of the pack.

Wehrlein kept pressure on the polesitter. His pursuit of the Maserati driver came good and by lap 4, the Wehrlein jumped Günther to take the race lead. There was a close moment between the two, as Günther attempted to defend, but Wehrlein made the overtake stick.

Now a handful of laps in, the drivers started to opt for attack mode. Wehrlein maintained his race lead for a lap or two before taking attack mode himself, passing the lead back to Günther. Günther then took his attack mode a lap later, giving Wehrlein the lead once again.

Pursuit of Wehrlein

No one was willing to let Pascal Wehrlein run away with the win. Günther and Vandoorne kept close behind the Porsche driver, waiting for any opportunity to pounce. As it happened, Wehrlein opted for his second attack mode, providing them with the perfect chance to pass him.

This dropped Wehrlein back down to third; defending champion Vandoorne remained in second, before taking his second attack mode, too.

Across the grid, the teams seemed to be playing the long game. There were yet to be any outright attacks — but the pace of the cars was competitive, putting in similar lap times to those seen in qualifying. A sprint began to unfold.

Half race distance

Wehrlein was back in the lead, followed by Günther and then Dennis. Meanwhile, Cassidy and Evans had gained places from their starting positions but were yet to reach the very front of the pack. Mitch Evans was hot on the heels of his compatriot, the two in a battle of their own. Evans’ teammate, Sam Bird, was down in P10; the pace of the Jaguar seemed middling, and not quite as threatening as it has been in recent races.

Jake Dennis was on the charge, making a move on the inside of Vergne. From here

Making moves

Nick Cassidy made a lunge on Jean-Eric Vergne, and there was contact between the two as they reached the apex. Nick Cassidy fought to keep control of the car, narrowly avoiding spinning – and somehow managing to hold onto his position without losing out to the approaching Edoardo Mortara.

We returned to scenes familiar from the beginning of the season, as Jake Dennis ruthlessly pursued race leader Pascal Wehrlein. There wasn’t even two-tenths between the two, but Wehrlein did well to hold onto the lead.

Lap 24, Dennis attempted to make a move on Wehrlein. The Andretti driver moved alongside the race leader, but Wehrlein got back ahead as they made their way into the corner. Dennis couldn’t make it, and an opportunity opened up for Günther, who significantly closed the gap to Jake Dennis.

With Dennis now vulnerable to attacks from the polesitter, Pascal Wehrlein was able to get away to safety. The Porsche driver extended his race lead, putting almost 1.5s between himself and Dennis.

Ten laps remain

Cassidy started eyeing up a move on the DS Penske drivers once more. He couldn’t make anything come from it, though, and instead opted for attack mode. The drivers in the middle of the pack had all acted similarly, with Evans, Rast, Bird and da Costa all taking attack mode too.

Jake Dennis had started to close in on Pascal Wehrlein again, shaving the gap between them down to half a second. Meanwhile, Maximilian Günther continued to run strongly in third, his Maserati managing to match the pace of the Porsche-powered frontrunners.

The DS Penske drivers were holding onto fourth and fifth, promising a decent points haul. The other teammates sticking together were Bird and Evans, who were running back-to-back in P9 and P10.

McLaren’s Rene Rast had a big moment on lap 32, but avoided making contact with either the barrier or his fellow drivers. It was a moment that highlighted quite how clean this race had been. Not a single retirement, nor had there been any yellow flags. Until…

Yellow flags!

Mitch Evans starts to tumble down the order, and it soon becomes clear that there’s been contact between Evans and his teammate, Sam Bird. An incident between teammates is painful at the best of times — but doubly so when it’s the second time it’s happened this season, with Bird the perpetrator once again.

Jaguar’s solid – if unremarkable – race unfolded before their eyes, unravelling into something outright disastrous. Evans was forced to retire. While it seemed as if Bird had got away without damage, it became evident that his car had suffered from the contact too. Bird followed Evans down the order, the two of them coming in at P21 and P22 respectively.

Full send

There was a flat-out sprint to the finish line as the final lap commenced. Pascal Wehrlein took off, but challenger Jake Dennis was close behind, chasing the Porsche driver down. Also in the mix was Maximilian Günther, who had done an excellent job all race to remain in contention with Dennis and Wehrlein.

The chequered flag waved; though Dennis had done well to narrow the gap between the two of them, the win was Wehrlein’s. With this, the Porsche driver remains in strong title contention.

Though Nick Cassidy continues to lead the standings, Wehrlein is closing back in on him, only two points separating them. It’s a return to form for Pascal Wehrlein, whose dominant lead in the early stages of the

Full race results

Featured Image Credit: Porsche on Twitter

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