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Pascal Wehrlein, leading the field in his Porsche under the floodlights in Diriyah, Saudi Arabia

Wehrlein holds off Denis for second Formula E victory at Diriyah

Pascal Wehrlein holds off Jake Dennis to take his second Formula E victory. 

The Porsche Formula E driver started from ninth on the grid, but a strong drive and great energy management allowed Wehrlein to take his first win of the season. 

The first third of the race consisted of a battle between pole sitter Sebastien Buemi and Sam Bird, who shot past Jake Hughes early on. Bird kept the pressure on Buemi for a number of laps before flying past the Envision driver to take the race lead. 

Buemi quickly fell off the back of Bird as he defended against Hughes while Pascal Wehrlein carefully picked his way up through the order. 

Buemi’s defence soon resulted in a train of drivers behind him, which Wehrlein moved through without issue. Soon it was the Porsche driver directly behind Buemi.  

Buemi left it late to take his first Attack Mode, allowing Bird to escape up the road, but when he finally went through the activation points Wehrlein came through. 

Wehrlein quickly closed the gap to Bird, despite Bird also being under Attack Mode at the time. 

Getting past the Jaguar driver proved almost as difficult as passing Buemi. Wehrlein attempted one move at Turn 18, only to lock up and allow Bird back through. A few laps later, Wehrlein managed a similar move and made it stick. 

During the closing stages of the race, Jake Dennis joined the fight at the top of the order. The early championship leader had climbed up from 11th on the grid and swept past Bird to take second. 

Wehrlein and Dennis were only separated by a fraction of a second in the closing laps, but there was no way for Dennis to come through.  

It was a victory for Wehrlein but Dennis in P2, 0.5s behind, retained the championship lead. 

Bird held on to third ahead of Buemi and Rene Rast. Rast’s team-mate Jake Hughes faded away late in the race and eventually crossed the line eighth, behind Nick Cassidy and Jean-Eric Vergne. 

Andre Lotterer and Mitch Evans completed the top 10. 

Only one safety car disrupted running during the race. Antonio Felix Da Costa was the victim in a bunch up on the opening lap. Evans forced Rene Rast wide. As they returned to the track, they squeezed a number of drivers, including Lucas Di Grassi, who was directly ahead of his team-mate. Oliver Rowland slowed almost to a stop, making slight contact with his team-mate, and was hit heavily from behind by Antonio Felix Da Costa.  

Da Costa limped back to the pits, but the safety car had already been called. It returned to the pits at the end of lap one. Rowland was also forced to come into the pits. Both drivers returned to the track a lap down. 

Evans earned a five second penalty for the incident, but the added time didn’t impact his position. 

Nico Mueller retired early on due to an unknown issue, while the bad luck continued for Maserati. Maximillian Guenther was unable to start the race, while Edoardo Mortara retired seven laps before the chequered flag. 

Bethonie Waring

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