SEASON 9 REVIEW: Mexico City, Diriyah, Hyderabad

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SEASON 9 REVIEW: Mexico City, Diriyah, Hyderabad

The first year of the GEN3 era produced thousands of overtakes, new strategic battles and four debut race locations across four different continents. It's fair to say that Season 9 of the ABB FIA Formula E World Championship has been one of the most incredible seasons of motorsport in recent memory. Here's a look at how the first four rounds unfolded.

Jean Eric Vergne wins the Hyderabad E-Prix in Season 9

14 January: 2023 Hankook Mexico City E-Prix Round 1

Pole: Lucas di Grassi

Winner: Jake Dennis

It seemed very appropriate that the first qualifying session of the GEN3 era saw Lucas di Grassi, the only person to have driven in every Formula E race, claim the Julius Baer Pole Position, his first since 2017. On debut for Mahindra Racing, di Grassi mastered the Duels and defeated Jake Dennis in the final.

Dennis bided his time at the beginning of the race, and after two early Safety Cars were introduced, the British driver overtook di Grassi on lap 12, a lead he would maintain for the remainder of the race.

Second on the podium behind the Porsche powered Avalanche Andretti was TAG Heuer Porsche’s Pascal Wehrlein, while di Grassi utilised all of his considerable Formula E experience to claim a spirited third place.

Elsewhere, Jake Hughes impressed on debut to finish fifth for NEOM McLaren, while Season 8 World Champion Stoffel Vandoorne could only manage a single point in 10th for new team DS PENSKE.


Drivers’ World Championship top three:

  1. Jake Dennis - 26 points
  2. Pascal Wehrlein - 18 points
  3. Lucas di Grassi - 18 points

27 January - 2023 CORE Diriyah E-Prix Round 2

Pole: Sebastien Buemi

Winner: Pascal Wehrlein

Another Formula E legend secured pole in the second round of the year as the series returned to Diriyah for the fifth successive year. Having moved to Envision Racing for the start of Season 9, Sebastien Buemi qualified first in just his second race with the team as he defeated Mitch Evans, Sam Bird and rookie Jake Hughes to claim his first pole since July 2019. This was Buemi’s 15th Formula E pole, a new record for the sport.

Under the lights in Diriyah, Buemi managed to keep the lead at the start of the race, before being overtaken by a rampant Sam Bird on lap seven. Bird looked to be a strong race-winning contender, but the fearsome pace of Pascal Wehrlein’s Porsche was looking ominous, and the German driver engaged in a ferocious tussle with Bird for the lead, before finally passing him on lap 30.

After Mexico winner Jake Dennis overtook Bird for second, an intense last lap battle transpired between Dennis and Wehrlein, which was narrowly won by the Porsche driver despite starting ninth on the grid. Wehrlein, in his 50th Formula E race, claimed his sophomore win in the series to move second in the standings, a point behind Dennis.


Drivers’ World Championship top three:

  1. Jake Dennis, 44 points
  2. Pascal Wehrlin, 43 points
  3. Sebastien Buemi, 23 points

28 January - 2023 CORE Diriyah E-Prix Round 3

Pole: Jake Hughes

Winner: Pascal Wehrlein

Jake Hughes had scored points in his first two Formula E races heading into Round 3, and had narrowly missed out on pole the day before. The British driver continued his excellent start in qualifying, beating Jake Dennis and Sebastien Buemi in the Duels before defeating Mitch Evans in the Duels final to earn his first pole position.

Hughes’ lead lasted just seconds into the race however, when Mitch Evans overtook him into turn one. Despite the setback, Hughes and McLaren teammate Rene Rast looked strong as the race progressed, before Round 2 winner Pascal Wehrlein once again scythed through the field to take the lead on lap 17.

As the race reached its conclusion, Wehrlein and Dennis were at the front of the pack, but despite a phenomenal attacking attempt from Sam Bird, the Jaguar TCS Racing driver couldn’t earn third to make Sunday a mirror image of the Saturday thanks to Rene Rast’s rugged and robust defending.

Rast held on to clinch third, the first podium for McLaren in the series, with teammate Hughes eventually finishing fifth. The big points came for Pascal Wehrlein however, who won his second successive race to leave Saudi Arabia firmly at the top of the championship.

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Drivers’ World Championship top three:

  1. Pascal Wehrlein, 68 points
  2. Jake Dennis, 62 points
  3. Sebastien Buemi, 31 points

11 February - 2023 Greenko Hyderabad E-Prix Round 4

Pole: Mitch Evans

Winner: Jean-Eric Vergne

Two weeks later, Formula E made its Indian debut by racing in Hyderabad for the first time, and it was a day that started so brightly for Mitch Evans before finishing in heartbreaking fashion hours later. The New Zealander claimed pole by just 0.021s ahead of Jean-Eric Vergne to start the race first.

Evans made a strong start to the Hyderabad E-Prix and kept his lead in the opening stages. On lap seven however, the first of several questionable moves saw his race begin to disintegrate. After being the first of the frontrunners to take ATTACK MODE, Evans dropped to third, before he, and teammate Sam Bird, exited the race following Sam Bird’s failed overtake on Sacha Fenestraz.

The move caused chaos on track, as Bird made a lunge on the dirty side of the track on Fenestraz, but couldn't get his car stopped in time and collected teammate Mitch Evans, running third at the time - pitching the Kiwi's car into a spin and sending both into retirement and the unlucky Fenestraz tumbling down the order.

Two laps later, Vergne made his move for victory as he overtook long-time rival Sebastien Buemi into the lead of the race, but the Frenchman was forced to use every element of his considerable defensive acumen to stay ahead of Nick Cassidy in the last laps.

Vergne’s win came in front of a sold-out crowd of over 25,000 people and capped one of Formula E’s most dramatic races ever.

Hyderabad start

Drivers’ World Championship top three:

  1. Pascal Wehrlein, 80 points
  2. Jake Dennis, 62 points
  3. Jean-Eric Vergne, 31 points