Done with 5 races in this Formula E season 9 for 2022-23. Covered 4 different countries across 3 continents over the 5 races – Mexico, Saudi Arabia, India and South Africa. 2 of those opening 5 races were first timers on a Formula E calendar – Hyderabad EPrix in India and Cape Town EPrix in South Africa.
Opening 3 Rounds – Mexico and the double header in Saudi Arabia
It was a Porsche power train dominance that took us through the opening 3 rounds. Jake Dennis in the Porsche powered Andretti took the season opener in Mexico while Pascal Wehrlein took both the races in the double header at Diriyah in Saudi. The 2 drivers stood 1& 2nd in all the opening 3 rounds while others ran into troubles. So after 3 rounds, they looked the run away favorites for the title with Wehrlein leading on 68 pts to Jake Dennis’ 52 pts.
The works Porsche team led the Teams’ standings with 74 pts followed by their customer team Andretti with 66 pts. At this point, it was looking like a season to be dominated by Porsche cars as Wehrlein and Dennis looked flying in race mode ploughing their way to the lead of the race though starting outside the top 5.
Among others, Lucas Di Grassi took the pole at the season opener in Mexico. Buemi took the pole in Race at Diriyah just marginally over the rapid Neom McLaren driver Jake Hughes. The young rookie came back in Race 2 to score his maiden Formula E pole.
India – Hyderabad EPrix
Formula E lands for the first time in India in the city of Hyderabad, home for the Mahindra Racing Team and TATA owned Jaguar tcs Racing team. The track was green and dusty to start with, which required a dummy practice session ahead of the official FP 1. Few first time event issues then delaying the FP1, but went on eventually. The weekend from then produced an absolute thriller in terms of the unpredictable nature. Mitch Evans of the home backed Jaguar tcs Racing took the pole. The tight hairpin for turn 3 at the end of a straight provided all the drama as expected. Unfortunately, both Jaguar cars collided when Sam Bird just misread the situation when he was trying to take the attack mode on the outside of turn 3.
Jean Eric Vergne took the opening and used his experience in managing the battery life along with his gritty race craft. He came through to take the win though with only 0.8% charge left at the start of the last lap. Fended off a charging Nick Cassidy in the Envision racing car who was having 3% more charge in his battery relative to Vergne.
South Africa – Cape Town Eprix
Set in the picturesque background of the table mountains, the circuit layout for the Cape Town EPrix was the Formula E’s version of Monza in Italy. The 2.921 km length track was covered in 67.848 seconds by Nissan’s Sacha Fenetraz in the FINALS of the duels to take the pole position @ average speed of about 155 km/hr.
The track stood to its hype of being the real test to the new blood of Formula E cars in the form of Gen 3. The track was characterized by high speed straights / turns that caught out a few during the race weekend.
The race as well produced another close encounter. Jean Eric Vergne once again at the helm battling for the race win, this time with his former team mate, Porsche’s Antonio Felix Da Costa. The race was decided on the final lap with Da Costa putting a brilliant move over Vergne by throwing a dummy down the inside before going past him on the outside.
Formula E Season 9 – Championship Standings after 5 rounds.
Porsche’s Pascal Wehrlein, though with a DNF in Cape Town, is still in the lead of the driver’s lead by 18 pts. over Andretti’s Jake Dennis. In Formula E terms, should say the German driver holds a comfortable gap after 5 races, thanks to his consistency in the opening 4 races of the season with 2 wins, a 2nd and a 4th.
Former 2 times Formula E champion, Jean Eric Vergne, got his title challenge underway with a win in Hyderabad and P2 in Cape Town. But it has been a tough start for his team mate and the reigning Formula E world champion, Stoffel Vandoorne, with just 11 points to his name across 3 points scoring finishes. He would be hoping to have utilized the month’s gap between Rds. 5 &6 to turn the tide in terms of getting his usual qualifying pace back with his new team.
In the teams, Porsche are leading the way with 3 wins out of the 5 races. Envision Racing have been the 2nd most consistent team with 3 podium finishes (could have been 4 if not for the post race penalty to Buemi for Technical infringement).
Next for Formula E Season 9
Rd. 6 takes the Formula E season 9 to yet another new location in Sao Paulo in Brazil. The race comes after a month’s break that would have given enough time for the teams to churn through the lots of data collected over the opening rounds. Maybe that we see a change in the pecking order ?, to be seen.