Diriyah E-Prix 1 – Jake Dennis took victory from P3, avoiding the drama behind which saw Mitch Evans fall off the podium with a failed overtake at the end.
After a close-fought final duel which saw the advantage swing between Jean-Eric Vergne and Mitch Evans before the DS Penske driver won out by less than a tenth of a second, to seal his 16th pole, which saw him equal the record number of pole positions with Sebastien Buemi.
Race Results – 2024 Diriyah E-Prix 1
Vergne will have Evans alongside him on the front row while reigning champion, Jake Dennis, will be right behind them in P3 with Sergio Sette Camara, who put in a fantastic performance to get his ERT into the semi-finals.
As the lights went out to start the race Vergne held his lead from Evans as the top five all remained where they started, Sam Bird, who’d started P9 for McLaren made a great getaway and was P6 by the end of lap one.
There was a brief Yellow Flag when Sacha Fenestraz stopped on track with suspension damage but he was able to get back going and make it around to the pits. The first Attack Modes were activated at the end of lap 3, Vergne dropping to P3 when he activated his first two minutes, while the other early activators were all near the back of the pack.
The following lap saw Evans cede the lead to Dennis when the Kiwi took his first two minutes, the Jaguar driver hoped to remain ahead of Vergne but the two went side by side and Evans scraped the wall as the Penske driver held him off. The incident was noted by the Stewards.
Vergne was back into the lead on lap 7 as Dennis made his first move to the activation zone, The French driver was only there briefly as he went off the racing line once again the next lap to take his six minutes of Attack. Both Dennis and Evans managed to move ahead as he did, but they will have their own six minutes to activate.
Dennis followed Vergne’s early activation strategy and took his final six minutes at the next chance, he remained in the lead while, a lap later, Evans did the same and fell back into P3.
Behind them, Sette Camara had lost out to Dennis’ teammate, Nato, when activating his Attack Mode. There was just over a second separating the top three from Nato in P4, with the French driver leading a train of thirteen cars, nearly all less than half a second away from each other.
Lap 12 saw Evans make a move on Vergne to snatch P2 back, the Jaguar driver then closed up on Dennis before trying a move on the race leader just as his Attack Mode ended. The Kiwi got ahead but didn’t have the grip as he braked into T18 and Dennis retained the lead.
Vergne ended up right on Evans’ tail which gave Dennis a chance to pull a gap to his rivals. On lap 16, Vergne went side by side with Evans through T18 and T19, there was some contact between the cars but it was Vergne who came out ahead and set his sights on Dennis while Evans fell back by over a second to the Penske driver.
While the top three had all used their eight minutes of Attack Mode, the middle of the pack where everyone was line astern, still had their to use as they didn’t want to have to lose positions going off the racing line into the activations zone while their rivals were so close around them. The first of that group started their activations around lap 20.
On lap 22, Sette Camara took his six minute stint, along with a bunch of others, that dropped the ERT driver to P7, allowing Bird and Cassidy to move ahead of him. The following lap had the Kiwi into P4 as Nato and Bird took six and two minutes respectively.
While that was happening things had settled at the front, with two seconds between each of the top three, Cassidy put his foot down and closed right up to his teammate before Jaguar swapped the cars around on lap 26.
On lap 29, Cassidy took his first Attack of the race, activating two minutes and dropping back behind Evans. While that happened, Bird got the better of Nato to move into P5, both still in their final few minutes of higher power.
Cassidy was back ahead of Evans pretty quickly and managed to take his final Attack and remain ahead of Bird, to give Jaguar a P3 and P4. With a couple of laps to go Evans had closed right up on Vergne, and was wondering if he had a problem. Cassidy was not fighting his teammate for the podium and so was right on his fellow Kiwi’s tail with Bird right behind him too.
On the final lap, Evans went for a move on Vergne but T18 defeated him again, he want into the run off and lost positions to both Cassidy and Bird. In the last ten laps of so, Dennis had put his foot down and pulled a gap, which was extended further by Vergne slowing and holding off the cars behind.
Evans finished P5 ahead of Nato and Guenther while Pascal Wehrlein, winner of the opening round in Mexico City had an anonymous race to bring his Porsche home in P8. Sette Camara managed to wrangle a couple of points for ERT while Robin Frijns took the final point in P10. The fastest lap went to Dennis, with a 1:11.399 on the penultimate lap.