Pascal Wehrlein (TAG Heuer Porsche Formula E Team) stormed from ninth to win the first of two races in the 2023 CORE Diriyah E-Prix, with standings leader Jake Dennis (Avalanche Andretti Formula E) following home in second after starting in 11th.
Wehrlein looked the quickest on the track as he picked his way through the points-paying positions to the front of the pack. The move for the lead came on Lap 30 at Turn 16, with Sam Bird (Jaguar TCS Racing) unable to hold back Wehrlein’s 99X Electric Gen3. Both driver and car looked dominant for a second straight race. It was an emotional win for the 28-year-old, who once again credited his team with a monumental amount of work off-track to get things so right on it.
Jake Dennis in the Porsche-powered Avalanche Andretti took the fight all the way to the line with his factory Porsche counterpart from all the way back in 11th on the grid, but he couldn't find a way beyond Wehrlein - who sealed his second Formula E win on his 50th start.
The result was a reversal of the one-two we saw two weeks ago in the 2023 Hankook Mexico City E-Prix - and both TAG Heuer Porsche and Avalanche Andretti look to have thrown down the challenge to the rest of the field as the GEN3 development race continues at pace.
Sam Bird was overjoyed to make the podium for the first time since winning in New York City in Season 7 - calling it a "mini victory" for himself and Jaguar after a tough Season 8 for the Brit - the only season he has failed to claim Formula E silverware.
Sebastian Buemi (Envision Racing) started in Julius Baer Pole Position and finished in fourth, his best finish since the Season 6 finale in Berlin.
NEOM McLaren Formula E Team’s René Rast started fifth and ended fifth following a long battle in middle of the points-paying positions. He also sealed the TAG Heuer Fastest Lap.
Nick Cassidy made it two Envision Racing cars in the top six. Jean-Éric Vergne fought from 12th to the points for DS PENSKE, winding up just ahead of Jake Hughes in the sister McLaren. André Lotterer (Avalanche Andretti) and Mitch Evans (Jaguar TCS Racing) rounded out the top 10 - the latter slipping from sixth on the grid.
That leaves Dennis as standings leader at just a point over Werhlein - 44 to 43 points - while Avalanche Andretti retain their Teams' advantage over TAG Heuer Porsche, 58 to 49 points, with Envision Racing third.
Formula E’s return to Diriyah, a historical and cultural destination in Saudi Arabia, marks a groundbreaking move as it continues to prioritise sustainability and shift the paradigm in the sports industry.
The second race in the 2023 CORE Diriyah E-Prix double-header is tomorrow night, Saturday 28 January, starting at 20:00 AST / 17:00 GMT.
Find out where to watch here: www.fiaformulae.com/en/ways-to-watch
Pascal Wehrlein, No. 94, TAG Heuer Porsche Formula E Team, said:
“"It feels incredible. I am so proud of these guys, unbelievable - what a car I had today. I mean from P9 to P1, amazing, I am so grateful to have this team. It has been a lot of work. We always wanted to achieve these kind of results, we had some highlights in the past but definitely this year we wanted to do a big step forward. I know how hard these guys are working, I am also quite often with them and pushing with everyone, especially after the testing in Valencia we were not looking that strong so I know how many hours everyone has put in. To start this well in the season in the first and second race is amazing, like I said I am just thankful for everyone and their hard work - we keep pushing."
Jake Dennis, No. 27, Avalanche Andretti Formula E, said:
"I wasn't at all [expecting to be on the podium]. I thought it was going to be quite difficult to overtake here with the mountain section being so fast, but my god the race car we have is just unbelievable. For me and Pascal to get another 1-2 from ninth and eleventh is testament to how much effort has gone in.
Full credit to Avalanche Andretti for giving me the best race car today. We closed in on Pascal at the end, I was pushing to get the move done but when you're racing a guy with the same car it is difficult to pass. But I am so happy and we deserve this after a difficult qualifying. I had to stop him getting an eight-second lead, but yeah super pleased for everyone and another 1-2. I need to try and beat him tomorrow and beat everyone else, but nonetheless I can sleep well tonight."
Sam Bird, No. 10, Jaguar TCS Racing, said:
"It feels so good to be back on the podium, I can't tell you. It has been a rough twelve months, but Jaguar have been amazing - they have stuck by me, put their arm around me and also recently we had a very difficult Mexico to open the season. The amount of work, the amount of sleepless nights everyone in the team has had in order to get us to this point, this is a little mini victory for us. I get that Porsche will be taking the spoils - but for us and where we have come from, amazing. Congrats to everyone in the team - we keep pushing. I tried to place my car to make it difficult for Pascal, I know the grip out there is tricky, but he did a superb job. The Porsche is looking extremely decent on change of direction and minimum speed, so we have got a bit of homework to do tonight.”