Five things we learned at the Diriyah double-header

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Five things we learned at the Diriyah double-header

It was another unforgettable weekend for the ABB FIA Formula E Championship. The double-header in Diriyah provided us with some incredible entertainment, and plenty of talking points. Here are some of the big takeaways from the back-to-back races!

Diriyah race action


Just like we saw in Mexico, the TAG Heuer Porsche powertrains are a force to be reckoned with. Having won the first three races in the new GEN3 era, they’re certainly the best of the bunch at the moment. Helping Pascal Wehrlein (TAG Heuer Porsche) claim two consecutive victories over the weekend, the 99X Electric GEN3's energy usage and race pace makes them the clear early favourites at this point in the season - with the car and powertrain one-two in every race so far in 2022/23.

Avalanche Andretti’s Jake Dennis, also powered by Porsche, found his way onto the podium on both occasions in Diriyah too, finishing in second place in the two races, respectively. Dennis’ win in Mexico City, in addition to his other silverware from the weekend, could mean we get to see a tasty Wehrlein vs Dennis championship battle this year!

Wehrlein celebrates winning in Diriyah for Porsche Formula E


After facing yet more struggles at the start of Season 9, in a "disastrous" Mexico City opener in which everything that could go wrong, did go wrong, Jaguar TCS Racing’s Sam Bird finally found himself back on the podium during Friday’s CORE Diriyah E-Prix Round 2. As well as topping the first free practice session of the weekend, Bird launched his Jaguar to the front of the pack during the first race of the weekend, but had to ultimately settle for third after Wehrlein and Dennis fought their way past.

It will be a welcome return to the top steps for Bird, whose last trip to the top three came back in Season 7 when he won the New York City E-Prix.

Despite not scoring any points after troubles in Mexico, Bird now finds himself fourth in the Drivers’ standings after just missing out on a podium place with a net fourth place, and getting his hands on the TAG Heuer Fastest Lap trophy on Saturday, too.

Sam Bird Diriyah podium


After struggling with pace and performance over the last few seasons, things have changed for the better at NIO 333. The Anglo-Chinese team made it through to the Qualifying Duels with their driver Dan Ticktum once again, after managing the same in Mexico City.

The team's one-lap pace looks to be good enough for the top six, and Ticktum managed to convert that into 10th place in Saturday's race - cementing the squad’s first championship point of Season 9, a feat that took 'til the Rome race weekend last season.

Ticktum Diriyah points NIO


Although the NEOM McLaren team are just three races into their Formula E journey, that’s not stopped them from achieving big things.

Rookie driver Jake Hughes managed to get his hands on the Julius Baer Pole Position during the second race of the weekend - a moment that left everyone up and down the pit lane seriously impressed. Especially so, as Hughes was already achieving great things with his qualifying, lining up on the starting grid in third place for his first race in Mexico, second in the first Diriyah race and then first in his third attempt!

However, it was his McLaren teammate, Rene Rast, who nabbed the papaya team’s first podium in Formula E as he fended off Bird by putting his McLaren in all the right places over the last few laps of Round 3.

“I'm over the moon,” Rast said about the third-place result in Saudi Arabia. “I think the team deserved it. They put so much hard work into this. It feels like a victory and I cannot thank the boys and girls enough at NEOM McLaren. They did an awesome job and it's really a lot of fun working with them.”

Rast McLaren first podium


When Maserati MSG Racing’s Maximilian Guenther finished pre-season testing in Valencia, having topped five of the seven sessions, the newly-formed Maserati-backed team had a lot of expectation on their shoulders. The same goes for DS PENSKE, home to reigning champion Stoffel Vandoorne and two-time champ Jean-Eric Vergne this season.

Both teams looked to have nailed a competitive package - quick, efficient and with no big dramas over the test. However, that’s not translated to real-world racing. Maserati have only managed to pick up two championship points, placing them ninth in the Team Standings. Guenther’s qualifying shunt that put him out of Friday’s race also didn’t help the Monaco-based team collect some necessary points.

For DS PENSKE, there have been moments of promise. Vergne found himself in the Duels on Saturday, but wasn’t able to convert that into points. His teammate and current champion, Vandoorne has just one point to his name this season.

They've got it all to do in Hyderabad.