Six things we learned in Hyderabad

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Six things we learned in Hyderabad

The ABB FIA Formula E Championship made history at the weekend, hosting the first international racing event on the streets of India in almost a decade. With a new track to learn, a first-time GEN3 winner, and problems for early favourites TAG Heuer Porsche, here are six things we learnt from the inaugural Greenko Hyderabad E-Prix.

Sergio Sette Camara is all smiles at the Hyderabad E-Prix

Hyderabad track 'a lot of fun'

Having never raced in India before, Formula E wanted a street circuit to rival the very best. This 2.835km track with 18 turns proved itself to be a huge hit with drivers up and down the grid. From long straights, high speeds, hairpin turns, and tight chicanes - this track had it all.

Situated alongside the Hussain Sagar lake, the event was a sell-out, with over 25,000 in attendance to see DS PENSKE's Jean-Eric Vergne secure his first victory since Rome, Season 7, almost two years ago.

WATCH: Evans guides us around the Hyderabad Street Circuit

"I like new tracks," two-time Formula E champion Vergne said. "It is cool, especially this one. It is a lot of fun, and I guess when there are still a lot of little secrets to find on the track, I find them quickly".

Mistakes can have big consequences

The first rule of racing is never to hit your teammate. Unfortunately for Jaguar TCS Racing, a small mistake resulted in that rule being broken with a nightmare result: both cars were out of the race.

READ MORE: Bird low, apologetic but optimistic with I-TYPE 6 proving its pace

Jaguar, and their driver pairing of Sam Bird and Mitch Evans, had looked strong all weekend. Bird had topped Free Practice 2, with Evans securing the Julius Baer Pole Position earlier in the day. However, a rare misjudgement from Sam Bird during the E-Prix saw him approach ATTACK MODE with too much speed and crash into the side of Evans. Both cars suffered damage and were forced to retire.

Bird was very sorry after the race, accepting full blame and apologising to Maserati MSG Racing's Maximilian Guenther and Nissan's Sacha Fenestraz, who also found themselves caught up in the chaos.

Not all plain sailing for Porsche

The first three races of the GEN3 era have seen all Porsche-powered teams seem almost untouchable. Avalanche Andretti's Jake Dennis comfortably won the Mexico City E-Prix by 7.816s, the seventh-largest winning margin in the all-electric championship's history. Porsche's Pascal Wehrlein also finished that race in second.

Later that month, Wehrlein did the double in Diriyah, winning both races, despite starting in ninth for the first event. Dennis, too, seemed inevitable, finishing in second place at both races and coming from 11th to second for the first race of the double-header weekend.

Da Costa Porsche Formula E podium India Hyderabad

However, during FP1 in Hyderabad, a glitch with Wehrlein's car saw him have a high-speed shunt and visit a local hospital for precautionary checks. The uncharacteristic issue with the car resulted in all other Porsche-powered machines being halted for the rest of the session.

The Stuttgart manufacturer was able to diagnose the problem, but it was the first sign of vulnerability for the team that has been bulletproof so far in Season 9.

All that said, the team still wound up third and fourth at the flag, with Wehrlein extending his championship lead to 18 points over Jake Dennis and Antonio Felix da Costa taking a first podium with the team on his 100th Formula E race.

Dennis was up there in the Avalanche Andretti-run Porsche 99X Electric, too, until he was speared by Rene Rast's NEOM McLaren after the Safety Car restart - taking him out of a net third spot at the time - a big dent to his title challenge.

Track limits are still a thing on street circuits

It can sometimes be a misconception that track limits aren't much of an issue on street circuits surrounded by walls, as those barriers ARE your track limits. However, a chicane at Turns 1 and 2 caused plenty of controversy over the race weekend and caught plenty of drivers out.

The chicane, with a late kerb removal, was responsible for several deleted lap times during practice and qualifying. A handful of drivers, including race-winner Vergne, also found themselves with 'black and white flags' for track limit violations during the race.

"It's a hard corner to get right, and we've seen some guys getting caught out, which is quite easily done," polesitter Evans said about the chicane. "When I went through, I was confident that I was fine. But I think I was just on the line.

"I just focused for the rest of the lap and just prayed that I made it in."

DS PENSKE's back to winning ways, as is JEV

After demonstrating great potential at Valencia pre-season testing, there's been a heavy weight on the shoulders of the DS PENSKE outfit. They've got a dynamite pairing of two-time Formula E champion Vergne and reigning champ Stoffel Vandoorne - one of the strongest line-ups on the grid.

However, that early promise has yet to convert into great race results until this weekend.

The Frenchman returned to winning ways with his first trip to the top step of the Formula E podium since Rome, Season 7, and he did it in some style. Vergne made his way to the front of the pack on Lap 15 - the double champion sweeping by Buemi at the hairpin after the Jaguars had removed one another from the equation two laps prior.

Vergne led the way from that moment but had his mirrors full of Cassidy's Envision Racing machine as the chequered flag drew closer. The New Zealander had managed to gather up an extra four percentage points of usable energy on Vergne come the closing stages of the race but the latter is the consummate Formula E fighter and used every trick in the book to keep him at bay and cross the line first - surely one of his best wins and one that will live long in the memory on Formula E's first visit to India in front of a sold-out crowd of over 25,000 people.

Vergne's victory was the first for the PENSKE team since Jerome d'Ambrosio at Mexico City in March 2016. It's certainly been a long time coming, with JEV even labelling the first three races of GEN3 as "very difficult".

"I couldn't be more proud of my team because we never gave up," he continued. "We have a good car, maybe not the best at the moment but we are going to keep on working very hard to be the best and come back in the championship. That is what we do, we never give up."

NIO's best since Season 4

NIO 333 has hit the ground running in Season 9 and has shown strong pace over a lap, particularly in the hands of Dan Ticktum.

Sette Camara NIO Formula E Hyderabad India

This time around, it was Sergio Sette Camara who shone and he managed to make it work over a race distance, too.

The racy Brazilian kept his nose clean and climbed through the pack to fifth, producing NIO 333's best result since Oliver Turvey finished in the same position in Berlin, Season 4 - and all the way from 15th on the starting grid.