Vergne wins action-packed Hyderabad E-Prix

February 12, 2023

DS Penske’s Jean-Éric Vergne won the inaugural Hyderabad E-Prix, a race which saw plenty of action as motor-racing returned to India. Envision Racing’s Nick Cassidy finished second, while Porsche’s António Félix da Costa took the final podium place after Sébastien Buemi received a 17-second penalty. 

Home team Mahindra Racing’s Oliver Rowland finished sixth to score points, although his partner Lucas di Grassi could only manage P14. Di Grassi suffered a late loss of power, which affected Mahindra Racing’s chances of finishing with double points at their inaugural home-race.

The other home team of Jaguar Racing, who are owned by Tata Group, started the day well as Mitch Evans started on pole position, but he and teammate Sam Bird came together on Lap 13, which effectively ended Jaguar Racing’s chances in the event.

Vergne, who started second, spent the opening few laps behind Evans, fighting off Buemi. The German was in attack mode from the start and even went on the inside of Vergne on Lap 7 to take a brief lead of the race, with Evans dropping down to fourth. Evans eventually collided with his teammate Bird, who rammed into the back of Evans at the hairpin. Cassidy, meanwhile was enjoying a strong afternoon in Hyderabad as he moved up to sixth following Evans and Bird’s collision.

Vergne took the lead of the race from Buemi on Lap 15 and held the lead comfortably till Lap 20, when Cassidy attacked the DS Penske driver. Vergne, though, managed to hang on and keep Cassidy behind, with Buemi in third, McLaren NEOM’s Jake Dennis in fourth, Da Costa in seventh, and reigning champion Stoffel Vandoorne at eighth ahead of current championship leader, Porsche’s Pascal Wehrlein.

Jake Hughes, meanwhile, brought out the Safety Car on Lap 23 as he hit the wall on the exit of the hairpin. The restart saw Vergne lead Cassidy and Buemi, with Da Costa charging through the field.

By the last couple of laps, on Lap 29 out of 32, Vergne was barely hanging on as both the Envision Racing cars of Cassidy and Buemi were right on his gearbox. But he managed to just hold on, with Da Costa finishing fourth right at the end; he would eventually be promoted as Buemi was given a 17-second penalty. 

Wehrlein’s P4 finish keeps him at the top of the Drivers’ Standings, while Porsche have reduced the gap to two points between themselves and Andretti in the Team Standings.

The next race is in two weeks’ time in South Africa: the Cape Town E-Prix.

Aditya Chaudhuri

Hailing from the City of Joy, the things that bring me joy are cricket, a good non-tilt CS:GO session, F1 and movies.

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