Double Diriyah Delight for Pascal Wehrlein Under the Saudi Arabian Night Sky

Pascal Wehrlein claimed a second consecutive victory to complete the double at the Diriyah E-Prix, with the TAG Heuer Porsche Formula E Team driver having moved to the top of the Drivers’ Championship, after a sensational performance at rounds two and three of the 2022/23 ABB FIA Formula E World Championship. Jake Dennis finished second for the second race in a row, whilst René Rast completed the podium after an excellent late defensive display.

Evans Leads Early Stages

After yet another incredible drone show, all eyes were on the grid, with many wondering if Dennis and Wehrlein could once again storm through the field, or if Jake Hughes could turn his maiden pole position into a maiden victory. Only time would tell under the night sky in Diriyah.

As all twenty-two drivers made their way round to the starting grid at the Riyadh Street Circuit, the front-row saw Hughes alongside Mitch Evans, with both being eager for a win. As the lights went out, it was Evans who made the better start despite having been on the dirty side of the grid, with the New Zealander having remained on the inside of Hughes into the opening corner to gain the lead. All the drivers made it through the opening corners cleanly, unlike yesterday, with Wehrlein having already made up a place, whilst Edoardo Mortara made up two.

The drivers settled into the race incredibly quickly, with little overtaking having taken place after the opening corner on the first lap, with it appearing that all were attempting to preserve energy. There really was very little action during the opening eight laps, with the only overtake having been by André Lotterer on Oliver Rowland further down the field. Everything remained very polite at the front, with somewhat of a train having formed behind Evans.

Wehrlein Charges Once Again

On Lap Nine, Evans decided to activate his first Attack Mode, dropping him behind both NEOM McLaren Formula E Team drivers; however, a lap later Hughes opted to activate his first, demoting him back behind Evans. Evans and Hughes activating their first Attack Mode elevated Rast into the lead, with the German having quickly built himself a little gap. Rast’s gap was enough for him to activate his own Attack Mode on Lap Eleven and crucially maintain the lead, meaning he jumped both Evans and Hughes.

Rast was seemingly a man on a mission, as he immediately built a gap of a couple of seconds to Evans. Wehrlein clearly saw Rast’s growing gap as a time to increase the pace, as on consecutive laps Friday’s winner overtook both Hughes and Evans to elevate him tos second. Wehrlein was once again flying, partly thanks to the fact he had two-percent more energy than anybody else. In absolutely no time at all, Wehrlein suddenly find himself in the lead of the race, with Rast having decided to activate his second and final Attack Mode.

Unsurprisingly, Wehrlein began to build an advantage in the lead, with all eyes having switched to see if Dennis would start to make his own charge from sixth. As the race hit half-distance, Wehrlein led from Rast in what was a German one-two, with Evans in third, polesitter Hughes in fourth with Mortara in fifth.

Dennis and Bird Begin Their Pursuit

Into the second-half of the race and Dennis finally decided to start his own charge, with the championship leader going into the race having overtaken Hughes and Mortara for fourth. Fourth became third on Lap Twenty-Four, as the Avalanche Andretti Formula E driver breezed past Evans. Dennis was on a real charge and made the move on Rast for second on Lap Twenty-Four, with his attention having switched immediately to his title rival out-front.

Out in the lead and Wehrlein sat just under two-seconds ahead of Dennis, with the duo once again finding themselves in first and second for the second day in a row. Behind the two Porsche-powered drivers, Sam Bird was on his own pursuit of the front duo, with the race one third-place finisher having overtaken his team-mate and Rast to get himself back into third, making for somewhat of a deja vu order.

Dramastruck, though, as on Lap Twenty-Seven Nico Mueller slid into the wall on the exit of Turn Eighteen after attempting an overtake, resulting in a Safety Car. The race was neutralised behind the Safety Car for three laps, with Dennis and Bird looming dangerously behind just waiting for the race to restart. Dennis and Bird both had more energy remaining than Wehrlein, but they also had an Attack Mode to take.

Wehrlein Completes the Double

The race was finally restarted on Lap Thirty-One, as Wehrlein tried to rebuild his lead as quickly as possible. The German built a slight gap to Dennis during the first lap since the restart; however, his gap grew even larger as Dennis and Bird both activated their Attack Mode on Lap Thirty-Two, with Bird having slipped behind Rast whilst activating it. Dennis remained in second and set the fastest lap of the race, as he once again pursued Wehrlein ahead.

Bird went for the move on Rast at Turn Eighteen on Lap Thirty-Three, but ran incredibly deep into the corner, allowing Rast some breathing space. The Jaguar TCS Racing driver was quickly back onto the rear of the German in third, and sat there until the final lap of the race.

On the final lap there was absolutely no trouble for Wehrlein, who claimed a second consecutive victory of the weekend in Diriyah to claim the lead of the Drivers’ Championship. Dennis once again claimed second, whilst there was a different name on the podium in third, as Rast held-off a fierce charge from Bird to claim a great rostrum for him and McLaren’s first. Bird claimed fourth with Hughes rounding off the top five. Incredibly, Mortara claimed Maserati MSG Racing‘s first points of the season in ninth, whilst Dan Ticktum claimed NIO 333 Racing‘s first point of the season in tenth.

So after an incredible weekend in Diriyah, Wehrlein has taken the championship lead off Dennis, with the duo seemingly in a league of their own. It also marked a third consecutive Porsche-powertrain one-two for the German manufacturer, who look unbeatable. Whilst he finished fifth, Hughes also claimed an additional three points for claiming pole, whilst Bird received a bonus point for the fastest lap of the race.

Formula E returns in two weeks for the first ever all-electric race in India, for the Hyderabad E-Prix.

Diriyah E-Prix Round 3: Full Race Results

1 94 Pascal Wehrlein GER TAG Heuer Porsche Formula E Team 50:40.304
2 27 Jake Dennis GBR Avalanche Andretti Formula E +1.252
3 58 René Rast GER NEOM McLaren Formula E Team +4.554
4 10 Sam Bird GBR Jaguar TCS Racing +4.851
5 5 Jake Hughes GBR NEOM McLaren Formula E Team +10.869
6 16 Sébastian Buemi CHE Envision Racing +10.947
7 9 Mitch Evans NZL Jaguar TCS Racing +11.088
8 23 Sacha Fenestraz FRA Nissan Formula E Team +12.409
9 48 Edoardo Mortara CHE Maserati MSG Racing +12.753
10 33 Dan Ticktum GBR NIO 333 Racing +13.275
11 13 António Félix da Costa POR TAG Heuer Porsche Formula E Team +15.229
12 36 André Lotterer GER Avalanche Andretti Formula E +15.623
13 37 Nick Cassidy NZL Envision Racing +17.038
14 17 Norman Nato FRA Nissan Formula E Team +19.569
15 11 Lucas di Grassi BRZ Mahindra Racing +20.796
16 25 Jean-Éric Vergne FRA DS Penske +21.221
17 3 Sérgio Sette Câmara BRZ NIO 333 Racing +22.243
18 4 Kelvin van der Linde ZAF ABT CUPRA Formula E Team +25.291
19 7 Maximilian Günther GER Maserati MSG Racing +27.137
20 1 Stoffel Vandoorne BEL DS Penske +37.572
21 8 Oliver Rowland GBR Mahindra Racing DNF
22 51 Nico Mueller CHE ABT CUPRA Formula E Team DNF