JAKARTA: A cool and collected drive by Pascal Wehrlein delivered a win in the soaring heat of race one in the Gulavit Jakarta E-Prix double-header, propelling his TAG Heuer Porsche Formula E Team back to the top of the Teams’ championship.
Wehrlein led home Jake Dennis (Avalanche Andretti Formula E Team), who reacted strongly after the race, claiming the Porsche driver made a “ridiculous” maneuver forcing Dennis to take evasive action.
Maserati MSG Racing driver Maximilian Gunther stayed in the leading pack throughout the race, finishing third. He started in Julius Bar Pole Position, the first Maserati pole in single-seater motorsport since 1958.
In the first race of the double-header in Jakarta, Wehrlein started third and traded places for the lead with pole-sitter Gunther over the opening third of the E-Prix, having first made his way by his compatriot on Lap 4.
From Lap 12 and the second ATTACK MODE activation, Wehrlein was able to manage things comfortably in the most trying conditions on a hot and humid afternoon where temperatures reached the mid-30s Celsius.
Dennis started second and finished second, with not quite enough in his Avalanche Andretti to overpower Wehrlein’s factory Porsche 99X Electric. His push for the front was compromised by a late-race push from Gunther, who pressured the Brit for second, allowing Wehrlein some breathing room.
Ultimately, Gunther could not find a way through. The DS PENSKE teammates Stoffel Vandoorne and Jean-Eric Vergne came home fourth and fifth respectively, with Gunther’s Maserati MSG Racing teammate Edoardo Mortara sixth.
Standings leader Nick Cassidy (Envision Racing) tried his best to outdo defensive maestro Vergne mid-way through the race. He had a lucky escape as he made a move from a long way back on an unsighted Vergne on Lap 20, narrowly avoiding damage to both front corners of his car, finishing seventh.
Two victories and a second place on the first three races of Season 9 put Wehrlein to the top of the Drivers’ championship. However, since his last win in Round 3, Wehrlein failed to make the podium until today while Cassidy hit form and took the lead in the standings with his win in Monaco, the race before Jakarta.
Saturday’s win means Wehrlein is just two points behind Cassidy, who is on 128pts in the standings, while TAG Heuer Porsche leapfrogged Envision Racing at the top of the Teams’ running with a nine point advantage on 198pts.
Wehrlein said: “It feels awesome obviously. A very good race, qualifying was much better than in previous races. Thanks a lot to the team, the car was awesome today, I was leading almost the whole race. It was not so easy on energy for me, I knew that the guys behind had a little bit more, and also driving in the slipstream helps. But I think we defended well and happy to be back on top. The team definitely deserves it and now we are looking forward to tomorrow.
“The last couple of races we were not where we wanted to be, hadn’t scored the points we wanted and qualifying was an issue for us. Today with P3 we qualified in the best position so far this season. A big turnaround for us in the last couple of weeks, and like I said, thanks a lot to the team for all their hard work. Still a long way to go.”