Formula E in Diriyya: Wehrlein & Dennis (also in a league of their own within the team) - 2023 title fight opened up
For Porsche, the Diriyya E-Prix 2023 turned into a real show of force. Pascal Wehrlein finished both races in Saudi Arabia in first position, in both cases finishing directly ahead of his brand colleague Jake Dennis (Andretti). The battle for the Formula E title is thus open early - and could get some interesting side protagonists....
As they did on Friday, Wehrlein and Dennis worked their way past several rivals on their drive to double victory. This time, however, there were fewer cars between their grid positions and the front of the field: Wehrlein took the E-Prix from 5th place, Dennis from 6th. And so, as expected, it didn't take long for the duo to reach the front.
By lap 17 of 40 at the latest, the Porsche drivers were able to exploit their obvious efficiency advantage: Wehrlein took the lead from McLaren driver Rene Rast. A little later, Dennis also stormed past Rast and opened the chase on Wehrlein.
While their pursuers battled it out for the final podium spot, only a late safety car period could slow down the leading duo. At the restart, they defended their lead - and crossed the finish line in the same positions they had occupied in Friday's race. Wehrlein won, Dennis finished second.
"It's surreal! Simply perfect weekend," beamed Pascal Wehrlein shortly after the E-Prix. Speaking on the 'ProSieben' microphone, he stressed, "We know that we're not yet where we want to be in qualifying. But our race pace is all the better for it!"
Wehrlein: "Finally where we belong!"
The 28-year-old thinks: "Today it was more difficult than yesterday. You could see that the other teams have caught up a bit." Sam Bird, in particular, had caused him concern before the safety car period. "However, he still had to use two attack modes at that point, which then took care of it. I'm very proud of my team. Finally we are where we belong!" In an interview for English-language TV World Signal, Wehrlein later added: "This weekend is one I'll never forget!"
Jake Dennis wants little to do with early Porsche dominance. "McLaren had the fastest car over one lap, Jaguar looks strong as well," said the Andretti driver. "Sam (Bird) had two percent more power than us in the interim. I definitely don't expect us to have races like this every weekend now because of that! So we have to take all the points while things are still going so well and extend our lead. The others will definitely close the gap."
And yet: After the first three races of the season, Wehrlein and Dennis have the best chances in the title fight. The second-placed Briton's lead is already 31 points over his nearest rival Sebastien Buemi (Envision).
Will Lotterer & Felix da Costa have their teammates' backs?
The comparison of the two high-flyers with their teammates is also particularly interesting: While Wehrlein stands at 68 points thanks to two wins and a second place, his teammate Antonio Felix da Costa collected a meager six points. The situation is similar for Dennis (62 points) and his teammate Andre Lotterer (14 points). While the two current No. 1 drivers gamely dominated the competition, Felix da Costa didn't even make the top 10 on Saturday, finishing ninth and 18th, respectively, on Friday.
So it's not just down to the impressive efficiency of the Porsche 99X Electric. Apparently, Wehrlein and Dennis are also currently in a league of their own in terms of driving. At Porsche and Andretti, the driver pairing could thus soon become a political issue: Will Lotterer and Felix da Costa drive "for" their teammates in the future to keep their backs in the world championship battle? Time will tell.
The next clash between Dennis, Wehrlein and their pursuers will take place in just two weeks. At the Hyderabad E-Prix on February 11, Formula E will hold a race in India for the first time.