Pascal Wehrlein took his first win of the 2023 Formula E championship in Diriyah, Saudi Arabia, passing Sam Bird and holding off Jake Dennis for the win.
Having secured his 15th career Formula E pole position and his first since 2019, Sebastien Buemi led away from the start, with fellow front row starter Jake Hughes settling into second place as the field filtered through the opening corners. A squeeze into the tight left-hander saw Antonio Felix da Costa caught up and crash into Oliver Rowland’s Mahindra, losing his front wing.
The Safety Car was immediately deployed to remove the debris, but was called in at the end of the first official lap, with Buemi leading the pack as the green flags flew. Sam Bird nipped passed Hughes to take second place on lap three, as the McLaren then came under pressure from the Nio of Dan Ticktum behind.
But it was the leader, Buemi, who was feeling the most heat from a car behind. Bird ran close to the Envision driver until he pulled alongside him along the start straight and took the lead into turn 18.
Bird was the first of the leaders to take Attack Mode, opting for three minutes for his first application on lap 13. He emerged still in the lead, but remained just over a second ahead of Buemi by the time his three minutes had expired. Hughes lost third to McLaren team mate Rene Rast when he took his first Attack Mode, Rast having already entered into his first full power period of his own.
As they started lap 24, Bird took his second Attack Mode of one minute, while Buemi also took his first two minutes, losing second to Pascal Wehrlein. After Bird’s Attack Mode expired, Wehrlein was all over the back of the leader. He attempted a pass up the inside of turn 18, but ran too deep, allowing Bird to hold onto his lead.
Wehrlein kept the pressure on the leader and eventually managed to pull alongside and out-brake Bird into turn 18 to take the lead of the race. The Porsche still had one minute of Attack Mode still to use, but Wehrlein managed to pull out enough of a gap over Bird to take his second Attack Mode and retain the lead.
Bird then came under attack from championship leader Jake Dennis, who caught up to the back of Bird before passing the Jaguar on lap 34 to take second place. Dennis hunted down Wehrlein ahead, getting within a second of the leader, but could not get close enough to the Porsche to make a move.
Wehrlein held on over the final lap to cross the line and secure his and Porsche’s first win of the season, less than a second ahead of Dennis. Bird came over the line to complete the podium in third, while pole winner Buemi finished fourth.
Rene Rast took fifth for McLaren, with Nick Cassidy finishing seventh. Jean-Eric Vergne claimed seventh for DS Penske, with Hughes falling to eighth by the chequered flag. Andre Lotterer and Mitch Evans completed the top ten.
Dennis leads the championship by just one point, courtesy of his fastest lap in Mexico. The third race of the season will take place tomorrow for a second race in Diriyah.
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