After a pair of storming night races in Diriyah produced a new standings leader and an overtaking masterclass across the second and third rounds of the season. The Greenko Hyderabad E-Prix Round 4 provides the next instalment of the GEN3 era and becomes the series' 30th race location, with Formula E heading to the second most populous country on the planet and its fourth biggest city.
The fourth race of the season will be held on what is billed as India's first street circuit, around the shores of the Hussain Sagar lake and by the NTR Gardens, and marks a return of top-tier FIA World Championship motor racing to the country for the first time in a decade as well as India's first taste of top-tier electric motorsport.
The passionate support will have home team Mahindra Racing to cheer on, with 2016/17 Formula E champion Lucas di Grassi and teammate Oliver Rowland in the cockpit for the Indian squad. The former has silverware to his name already this season, sealed on debut for Mahindra at the Mexico City season-opener, and no driver has been on the podium more than his nine in Asia. He's going all out this weekend.
“It is important for us to have a good race in India – not only for the fans, but for the championship as well," said the Brazilian. "It’s a new track for us, as it is for everyone up and down the grid. "It needs to be a good weekend for us. We are going to try very hard and push to the limit to get the best out of the car. We can’t wait to see all the Indian fans out in force to support us and we want to give them a good show.”
“Heading into Hyderabad we know where we need to improve following a difficult weekend in Diriyah," added Brit Rowland. "Having the home fans behind us will add to the motivation we have racing on the team’s home ground. We know they will be fully behind us and supporting us, which will give us the extra push to perform well."
As it stands...
If Mahindra Racing are to take to the top step of the podium in Hyderabad, they will have two Porsche-powered teams in TAG Heuer Porsche and Avalanche Andretti to overpower, if the form book is anything to go by. The pair have flown out of the gate in Season 9, with the Stuttgart manufacturer's 99X Electric Gen3 finishing one-two in every race so far.
Andretti's Jake Dennis set the benchmark in Mexico City with the first win of the new GEN3 era, with Pascal Wehrlein following him home. The two traded blows in Diriyah and Rounds 2 & 3 of the campaign last time around, but the German got the better of Dennis in both races to take the top prize and a dominant win-double in Saudi Arabia and the standings lead, while Porsche still narrowly trail customer Andretti in the Teams' table by two points.
Wehrlein made things easier on himself ahead of Round 3, qualifying fifth rather than the ninth he managed a day prior. From there, he always looked a threat to those ahead. The Porsche driver was able to manage his energy and fight to the front, where he stayed, in both Diriyah E-Prix. Both his and Dennis' performances so far look ominous as far as the rest of the pack is concerned.
That said, NEOM McLaren sealed a maiden Julius Baer Pole Position last time out in the hands of Jake Hughes. The rookie has scored in every round this season and has the best qualifying record of anyone on the grid. He couldn't quite convert to silverware in the race but experienced teammate Rene Rast needed no second invitation to seal the team's first podium in Formula E in Round 3.
Jaguar TCS Racing were also ones to watch in Diriyah, with a resurgent Sam Bird returning to the podium after an uncharecteristically barren spell for the veteran of more than 100 Formula E races. No driver has won more than the Brit in Asia either, with Bird's four the benchmark - two in Diriyah, one in Putrajaya, Malaysia and another in Hong Kong.
Third and a near miss with fourth in Saudi Arabia shows the team has the pace, and Bird was strong on energy management, too. The Porsches are quick, but the pace of the GEN3 development race means teams are finding giant leaps in performance as they unlock this latest Formula E racing car at the start of a new era.
The chat was that overtaking would be tough in GEN3, with braking zones shortened thanks to the huge regen boost of the new car's double powertrain. But, Diriyah showed no such concern, with some 36 moves outside of ATTACK MODE position changes completed over two races.
Round 2 winner Wehrlein steered from ninth to the top step of the podium and Dennis followed with his own drive through the pack from 11th to second. On just three occasions has a driver won from further down the grid than Wehrlein managed and it was the first time consecutive Formula E races had been won from outside the top four since Zurich and New York City back in Season 4.
Free Practice 1 for the 2023 Greenko Hyderabad E-Prix Round 4 gets underway at 16:30 local time on Friday 10 February.
Free Practice 2 follows at 09:10 local on Saturday with qualifying from 10:40. Round 4 of Season 9 gets underway from 15:00 local, 09:30 UTC.
Follow the action on-track and Gen3's first competitive outing as it happens in the brand new Race Centre. Keep across Live Timing – which includes a real-time interactive track map and the ability to follow your favourite driver during every session of every E-Prix – plus highlights, detailed session reports, exclusive interviews, all the standings and results as well as data, insight and reaction from trackside.