MIM driver charges from 9th place on the grid to take second career win in Formula E and looks set for a great season.
Monaco Increase Management driver Pascal Wehrlein showed what he can do in the 2023 Formula E season as he took victory by storm in the first race of the Saudi Arabian e-prix in Riyadh. This success follows Wehrlein’s second place in the opening round in Mexico and confirms that both the driver and his TAG Porsche team have reached a level of maturity that enables them to take full potential out of the new Gen3 cars, their massive power and the new Hankook tires. His race pace and strategy management were simply unbelievable, and actually, “Incredible” is the word the 28-year-old Wehrlein uttered when first asked to comment about his race.
Once again, Wehrlein had come out of the qualifying with a rather lackluster result, his #94 Porsche 99X car being held up in traffic and missing the top 4 group by one and a half tenth of a second. That yielded a start position from 9th place, but as the lights went out, Wehrlein was the best starter as he kept an inside line to avoid a jam and recovered three positions in the process. A brief Safety Car interruption ensued, and after the race resumed Wehrlein kept pressure on Rast, who eventually went wide letting the MIM driver through for fifth. The first drivers started to call for their Attack Modes and when his turn came, Wehrlein was able to retain his fourth position. The Team chose to put Wehrlein on a three-minute first stint of extra power, and as other drivers took their Attack Mode, Pascal worked his way to P2. The only driver ahead was Jaguar’s Sam Bird and Wehrlein made his first attempt to pass on lap 25. Five laps later, Wehrlein tried again diving boldly for the inside and taking the lead in the 39-laps event. Now Wehrlein started to pull away from the pack as he still had a one-minute Attack Mode stint to serve, so he worked on building up a comfortable cushion which kept him in the lead. The last laps were not easy though, as Jake Dennis charged for the lead, but Wehrlein calmly reacted to every move of the British driver and let out a liberatory cry as he crossed the finish line as the race winner.
“I am so proud of these guys”, Wehrlein said turning to his cheering team after the race. “Going P9 to P1-it’s unbelievable what the car had today. But there’s a lot of hard work behind these results, especially after the Valencia test where we did not look so good. In the past we had had some highlights here and there, but this year we really wanted to make the big step and finishing second and first in the first two races of the season is really amazing”.