HANKOOK DEBRIEF: Five things we learned in Shanghai

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HANKOOK DEBRIEF: Five things we learned in Shanghai

Championship journalist Katy Fairman looks over five of the biggest headlines from Formula E's first visit to Shanghai.


There we have it, Formula E’s first visit to Shanghai is complete. The double-header event was a milestone in the championship’s history and provided us with not one but two fantastic races. Two different winners, two different teams, a first-time podium finisher and so much more, here are the big storylines from Rounds 11 and 12. 

First podium for Hughes

NEOM McLaren’s Jake Hughes finally managed to taste the sweet Taittinger Champagne on the Formula E podium, when he converted his Julius Baer Pole Position into a second place in Round 12. 

He has come close before, recording a fourth place finish in Diriyah earlier this year, but has now finished a race in the top three after his 27 race entries. It’s also the second podium of the year for the Bicester-based squad, after Sam Bird’s amazing victory in São Paulo. 


“I am over the moon,” Hughes said on his podium result. “I honestly feel like it's been a long time coming, it's about time. The last three months have been hard on everyone, it's been a very busy schedule and I'm so happy they finally have some success.”

Although the Shanghai International Circuit was new for Formula E this past weekend, Hughes won all three races there during his 2018 Asian Formula 3 campaign. 

INTERVIEW: Hughes' maiden podium shows 'calibre of driver he is'

After achieving his second pole of the year too, Hughes and the McLaren team will hope this momentum continues for the final two locations in Portland and London – just four races of Season 10 to go. 

Cassidy extends his championship lead 

Although he wasn’t able to take a win over the weekend, Jaguar TCS Racing’s Nick Cassidy pulled a bigger gap to championship rival TAG Heuer Porsche’s Pascal Wehrlein in Shanghai. The Kiwi entered the double-header weekend with 140 points, and was able to add another 27 to his name with a third and a fourth place finish across the two events. 


For Saturday’s race, Cassidy qualified in 10th and kept himself out of trouble to progress up the pack and save energy whilst doing so. He made it to third place in the final stages, behind Wehrlein and teammate Mitch Evans, and pleaded with Jaguar for instructions on what team game to play. Despite being higher on energy to those around him, he remained in third to give the team a one-three result with Evans winning his second race of the year. 

“A nice race today to get a one-three,” Cassidy said afterwards. “I had the energy to win, for sure. It wasn’t my decision. It’s okay.”


The following day, Cassidy picked up another 12 points for finishing in fourth. However, his biggest championship rival Wehrlein didn’t score anything. The Porsche driver was forced to pull into the pits on Lap 12, and had his left-rear tyre replaced following a puncture following contact with Bird. Could this be a defining moment in the championship battle? Possibly so. 

Best weekend of the season for De Vries

There’s no denying it’s been a tough start to the season for the Mahindra Racing squad. They brought in two huge talents in Edoardo Mortara and Nyck de Vries, and have been working around the clock but the results have struggled to appear. 

Nyck de Vries first Mahindra points in Shanghai

At the halfway stage of Season 10, Mahindra, who have been part of Formula E since the start, were the only team not to have a championship point to their name. Yet, their luck would change and for Berlin, Mortara managed a qualifying masterclass to place the car on pole. Not only was it a much needed injection of belief and celebration for the group, it also came with three championship points. The Swiss-Italian also finished eighth in the race, his first top 10 result of the year. 

INTERVIEW: De Vries on his Formula E comeback, why Mahindra and what really goes on in the driver Whatsapp chats

For Nyck De Vries, who missed Berlin because of a prior racing commitment, the pressure was on. He was the only full-time guy on the grid with no points, but came back to Shanghai with a bang! The Season 7 World Champion managed to finish Saturday’s race in seventh, and even found himself leading the race for the first time since Berlin in 2022, his last career victory. Finally, points were on the board and things were looking up. 


The following day, de Vries qualified for the Duels for the first time all season and even beat Nissan’s Oliver Rowland to progress into the Semi Finals. He started the race in fourth, and made great progress, but was ultimately spun by Sam Bird and lost him a huge deal of positions. He finished 16th at the chequered flag, but his weekend means all drivers have now scored at least one championship point across the first 12 races. 

Competition is as close as ever

Aside from the eight different winners so far this season, and the entire 22-car grid being split by half a second in Free Practice 1, Round 12 qualifying took things to another level. Jake Hughes managed to take pole by just 0.001s – yep, genuinely. 


The insane gap between Hughes and DS PENSKE’s Stoffel Vandoorne was understandably one of the smallest gaps we have ever seen in Formula E, but it isn’t the first time. In fact, it ties the record set by Lucas di Grassi during the 2017 Berlin E-Prix. It’s also the second time we’ve seen a pole decided by such a small gap this season, with Pascal Wehrlein putting his Porsche on pole by just 0.002s in São Paulo. 

On the subject of qualifying, Jean-Eric Vergne also equalled the record set by Envision Racing’s Sebastien Buemi for the most pole positions in Formula E. Our only two-time champion placed his DS PENSKE on the front row for the inaugural Shanghai E-Prix, now with an incredible 16 P1 starts to his name. 


Andretti’s Norman Nato also had his first visit to the podium in Season 10, after a brilliant drive from seventh on the grid. It was the Frenchman's third top three result in Formula E, and his first since Rome last year when he was with Nissan. 

Success in Shanghai

It might have been a first visit to Shanghai for Formula E, but it’s the latest step in a growing relationship with the country and their love of electric vehicles. China has now hosted nine races after this weekend, with it being the home of the championship’s very first race: Beijing in 2014. 

CIRCUIT: What does the Shanghai E-Prix circuit look like?

Since then, we have returned for races in Hong Kong and Sanya, and the Shanghai International Circuit has provided yet another fantastic home for us to show ourselves as one of the most competitive motorsports around. 

Bund skyline Shanghai