Jake Dennis claimed victory in the first race of the Diriyah E-Prix doubleheader, timing his Attack Mode power boost use to perfection in crushing the rest of the ABB Formula E World Championship field by 13.289s.
The opening stage of the 37-lap race was a story of front row starters Jean-Eric Vergne and Mitch Evans as they battled over the race lead, but it was that fight that allowed Andretti Global’s Dennis to start to build an advantage.
After Dennis’ first run through the Attack Mode lane on lap 6, he only narrowly dropped behind DS Penske man Vergne, but when he took the slower line again two laps later, he maintained track position and never looked back from that point.
Vergne and Evans, meanwhile, continued to squabble over second. The Jaguar TCS driver got by up the inside of Turn 18 on lap 12, and then set about chasing down Dennis for the race lead, using his power boost built from his run through the attack zone to close up. A repeat move at Turn 18 didn’t give him the race lead, though, with him running deep and bringing Vergne back into the fight.
Vergne then beat Evans at his own game at Turn 18, sneaking up the inside of Evans, who dropped off the clean line. The pair made contact on the exit, but Vergne held strong and consolidated second.
Jean-Eric Vergne and Mitch Evans set the pace early, but Dennis’s strategy would prove the canniest. Alastair Staley/Motorsport Images
While Vergne’s energy level was lower than the cars around him, Evans’ attention was instead taken by teammate Nick Cassidy behind him. The pair engaged in team strategy swapping positions multiple times as they looked to secure a double podium for Jaguar. Yet Vergne maintained second, while NEOM McLaren’s Sam Bird — part of a gaggle of mid-pack cars who left it late to use their Attack Mode boosts — closed up late in the race in a bid to spoil the party.
Nevertheless, a podium of Dennis, Vergne, and Evans looked to be nailed down — until the final lap where Evans made a last-ditch bid to snatch second. The move, once again at Turn 18, proved costly, however, as he ran deep and slipped to fifth behind Cassidy and Bird.
Up front, such was Dennis’ advantage thanks to his trouble-free run after taking the lead and the battles going on behind him, he had enough energy in his pocket to make two attempts at the fastest lap, which he nailed on lap 34 and again on lap 36.
Behind the top five, Norman Nato was sixth in the other Andretti entry, with Maximillian Guenther seventh for Maserati. Mexico City winner Pascal Wehrlein finished eight after a poor start dropped him from sixth to ninth at the start of the race. Ninth went to Sergio Sette Camara, who had a look up the inside of Evans at Turn 1 on the opening lap, but his ERT’s efficiency deficit proved to be a handicap, robbing him of a realistic chance at remaining in the top five.
Robin Frijns completed the top 10, beating McLaren’s Jake Hughes by a mere 0.053s.
There was only one retirement, with Nissan’s Sacha Fenestraz sustaining suspension damage after contact on lap 1. While he pitted for repairs, his day ultimately came to an end after he completed just 12 laps.