Formula E

Jean-Eric Vergne defends 2nd place to the end: "Really the best we could achieve today"

Timo Pape

Timo Pape

After Jean-Eric Vergne had already set a Formula E record in qualifying, the experienced DS Penske driver also shone in Friday's race and finished second. With a clever defensive drive, he held his own against the actually faster Jaguar drivers until the end, even though his pace was not enough for victory. Nevertheless, Vergne was satisfied with second place after the race.

"I'm happy that I was able to defend it - it definitely wasn't an easy race," said the only Formula E double champion to date. "When you start on pole, you normally want to win the race. But today I'm very happy with second place. That really is the best we could achieve today."

Victory was a long way off for "JEV" - 13.2 seconds to be precise. "Because our pace in the race was clearly not at the level of Jake (Dennis) - he was really flying today. The Jaguars around me were also very strong," emphasised Vergne. However, he was able to beat the two "big cats" because he always used his remaining energy wisely on the long straight to be able to defend.

Vergne still had to tremble on the final lap when Evans took heart and attacked again before turn 18. However, the New Zealander misjudged the right-hand bend and dropped back. Vergne now had the second Jaguar of Nick Cassidy on his tail for a few corners, but was able to hold off the runner-up from 2023.

Vergne: "Have made a huge step forward"

"I think our strategy worked out," said Vergne, looking back on the race and his two attack mode activations: "At first it was a full throttle race until everyone went into attack mode. By then, I overconsumed (energy) to be able to keep the lead. In the end, it was simply a question of pure pace, which we lacked (compared to race winner Dennis). A different strategy wouldn't have got us any further forward."

Vergne is particularly pleased with the upward trend in form that his DS Penske team has shown over the past twelve months: "Last year, we were out of the points in both races here in Riyadh. I think we've made a huge step forward. We're not quite where we want to be yet, but we're catching up. Hopefully we can beat them (the Porsche and Jaguar teams) in some races."

After two rounds of the season, Vergne is third overall in the Drivers' Championship thanks to two good results and his pole position on Friday. DS Penske also improved to third place in the team standings. In the second Diriyah race on Saturday, Vergne has another chance to score good points for his team.

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