Formula E

"Alarming" Porsche pace amazes competitors: Wehrlein & Dennis early favorites in the world championship battle

Tobias Bluhm

Tobias Bluhm

In Friday's race at the Diriyya E-Prix 2023, Porsche once again showed what ambitions the German carmaker has in this year's Formula E season. Over several laps, Pascal Wehrlein in the factory Porsche and Jake Dennis in the Andretti customer Porsche dueled for first place, ultimately with the better end for the German. The competition congratulates the early world championship favorite duo - but also looks "alarmed" at the outstanding efficiency of the 99X Electric.

Unobtrusive qualifying results of Wehrlein and Dennis concealed in the first half of the race still, which speed also Diriyya in the Porsche drive slumbered. The drivers, who started in 9th and 11th places, only stepped into the spotlight when they had caught up with Sam Bird (Jaguar) and pole-sitter Sebastien Buemi (Envision) at race half-time.

Through a tactically astute use of attack mode, Wehrlein initially catapulted to the front of the field. On lap 34 of 39, Dennis finally left his rivals behind as well. Shortly thereafter, he opened the chase on his brand colleague and attacked Wehrlein several times. However, he failed to get past even with an optimistic attempt in the final corner.

At the finish, Wehrlein and Dennis were separated by just 0.531 seconds - the closest Formula E finish since the 2022 Mexico City E-Prix, when Wehrlein also won, closely followed by Dennis' current teammate Andre Lotterer.

"The car was just incredible," Wehrlein praised his team after the Saudi Arabia race. "I'm so grateful to have this squad around me. I'm often in Weissach myself, so we can step on the gas together. After the test in Valencia, things didn't look so good, so everyone worked overtime. I'm just grateful for that!"

Dennis surprised by podium, Bird praises Porsche pace

Dennis reports on the final sprint: "I really gave everything to surprise him with another maneuver. But when you're racing against someone in the same car, it's just hard. Either way, this is another one-two for Porsche! I was actually expecting little more than a result in the top 6. I'll certainly sleep well tonight."

Compared to other manufacturers, Porsche impressed with great efficiency on Diriyya Friday. At times, Dennis and Wehrlein had an energy plus of more than two percent compared to their direct competitors. By Formula E standards, this is a comparatively comfortable cushion to use for attacks or defensive maneuvers.

"They very much deserve it," said third-place finisher Sam Bird, praising Porsche's pace. The 99X Electric's pace is "alarmingly good," says the Jaguar driver, who adds with a wink: "But it's also down to the drivers. Jake and Pascal are working at a very high level - it's always hard to outdo them. We'll have to really push hard to beat them at some point." He says he has identified strengths in his Porsche rivals, particularly in slow corners and when changing direction in the "Esses."

Porsche's head of motorsport, Florian Modlinger, is also extremely pleased with the "wonderful result for the whole team". After the race, the German classified, "This victory is very special. Last year we were fast in Mexico, also this time it went well there. But we wanted to prove that we are also strong on other tracks. Pascal, the team and everyone at the factory showed that today. I think for him it was very emotional!"

Dennis maintains narrow WRC lead ahead of Wehrlein

Porsche will celebrate the victory, he said, but will already start evaluating the vehicle data during the night. After all, the second race in Saudi Arabia will already take place on Saturday. "We didn't make it into the duels today," Modlinger criticized. "Every tenth of a second can make a difference there. So we'll have to work hard to make it work tomorrow!"

In the drivers' championship, Dennis and Wehrlein continue to occupy the top two places. They have each scored a first and a second place so far, but Dennis also collected the bonus point for the fastest race lap in Mexico City. He is therefore one point ahead of his pursuer Wehrlein. Sebastien Buemi is currently third in the standings. However, the Swiss is already 20 points behind the previously dominant leading duo.

Andretti (58 points) and Porsche (49) were also able to defend their top positions in the team standings. The weekend of the Diriyya E-Prix continues with the 3rd free practice session. This starts on Saturday at 11:30 a.m. German time. As usual, '' will accompany the session with a livestream as well as in the popular Hankook Formula E Liveticker.

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