Double domination: Impressive double victory for Pascal Wehrlein in Diriyah
■ Pascal Wehrlein wins two races in a row at the ABB FIA Formula E World Championship in Saudi Arabia
■ Hankook iON Race overcomes challenges of cool temperatures, diverse surfaces, and a sandy track
■ Fan Village with Hankook presentation stand ensures the party continues off the track
Neu-Isenburg, Germany, January 30, 2023 – Lights out, spots on – races two and three of this year's ABB FIA Formula E World Championship took place in the Saudi Arabian desert. One of the weekend's highlights was the fact that the first double-header of the year was held under floodlights, creating a very special atmosphere among the fans. The Hankook iON Race faced three major challenges, all of which it mastered with great aplomb: cool temperatures in the two night races, a mix of different surfaces, and a track that was sandy in places. An incredibly exciting E-Prix on Friday evening in Diriyah produced numerous battles and some fantastic duels at the front of the field. All the drivers benefited from the consistency of the Hankook iON Race on the 2.495-kilometer street circuit around the UNESCO World Heritage Site. After an hour and 39 laps of racing, the beaming winner was Pascal Wehrlein of the TAG Heuer Porsche Formula E Team. The German took the checkered flag ahead of the winner of the Hankook Mexico City E-Prix, Britain's Jake Dennis, Avalanche Andretti Formula E, with Sam Bird, Jaguar TCS Racing, taking third place. The crowds were also treated to some thrilling battles and a grand finale in race two on Saturday. It was Wehrlein who again dominated, making it two wins in as many days with his second victory of the weekend for the TAG Heuer Porsche Formula E Team. Dennis also produced a fine drive and was Wehrlein's closest rival for the second race in a row. German René Rast, NEOM McLaren Formula E Team, came home third to earn his team its first podium in Formula E. After three races, the double race winner from Diriyah – Pascal Wehrlein – tops the overall standings.
Manfred Sandbichler, Hankook Director Motorsport, says, “The double-header in Diriyah proved to be a real challenge for the Hankook iON Race. Heavy rain shortly before the start of the second round of the season transformed the desert sand on the track into a greasy surface, offering little grip. However, the situation improved with each session and the grip level increased significantly. The cool evenings, around ten degrees Celsius, also made it a real challenge for the teams to get the iON Race up to the ideal operating temperature. However, as at the season-opener in Mexico, the tire overcame the difficulties with its strong performance and reliability – despite the different track surfaces in different sections of the circuit. The tire allowed the drivers to pull off spectacular moves and overtaking maneuvers, even at the end of the races.”
Pascal Wehrlein, Friday and Saturday’s winner, says, “I am obviously mega happy with the race. I started from ninth and was then able to work my way through the field to the front. The tire played a major role in allowing me to do that. I could really push every lap, although I overtook a lot of cars. And I still had enough grip at the end. From my perspective, everything went perfectly in today’s race.”
Jake Dennis, runner-up on Friday and Saturday, commented, “The cooler conditions here in Diriyah were a bigger challenge for the tires than the warm temperatures in Mexico. The tire is particularly good in the races, as we were able to go flat-out for 39 laps. Last season, we had to look after the tires a bit. We are struggling a little to get the tires working in qualifying, particularly on the front axle. We still have to understand the tire a little better, and we are doing that with every lap.”
Sébastien Buemi, Pole-sitter and fourth place in Friday’s race, says, “The tires were pretty good and I am very happy. I had a good warm-up and used the second set in qualifying. Even when the temperatures were cooler towards the end of qualifying, I still set a very good lap time. In the race, I was a bit too hard on the tires and wore them out too much, which meant I lost a bit of grip. I will try to change that for Saturday’s race.”
Meanwhile, Hankook Tire & Technology President & CEO Sooil Lee visited the second round of the ABB FIA Formula E World Championship in Saudi Arabia, where he gained a personal impression of the performance of Hankook, the new official technology partner and tire supplier of Formula E. As well as many business meetings, the Hankook boss also enjoyed a ride in an electric car, with a driver taking him for a flying lap of the circuit. “The iON race tire has been receiving much positive feedback from teams and drivers. We are truly blessed to be greeted by amazing Formula E fans in Diriyah. We will continue to exceed everyone's expectations throughout," says Lee.
The two night races, presently the only ones in Season 9, are an absolute fan highlight in the ABB FIA Formula E World Championship. A total of 170 lighting masts and 50 kilometers of electricity cable transformed the 2.495-kilometer street circuit on the outskirts of the capital Riyadh into a sparkling sea of light. Shining at the top of all the 20-meter tall masts were powerful LED lights, which could be controlled individually using specific software and their own IP addresses. Ten kilometers of fiber optic cable, required to transfer the data, were laid for this purpose. All the power for the entire Diriyah E-Prix came from climate-friendly, hydrated vegetable oil.
The races in the ABB FIA Formula E World Championship are not only high-end sporting events, but also festivals for the whole family. Hankook once again showcased its services with a specific brand world in the popular Fan Village, where it informed visitors about Hankook and the topic of sustainability, in conjunction with the company’s new iON tire, which was developed specifically for the latest generation of electric cars. The many interactive modules in the experience area, which was almost as big as eight soccer fields, ensured that fans also enjoyed their time away from the race action. The DJs and bands who performed on the huge stage in the Fan Village after the races were a real highlight. The headliners on Friday were Miguel and Martin Garrix, while French Montana and John Legend ensured that visitors to the 2023 Diriyah E-Prix were in high spirits on Saturday.
Three current drivers in the ABB FIA Formula E World Championship celebrated reaching a special milestone in Diriyah. Sam Bird, Sébastien Buemi and Jean-Éric Vergne each contested their 100th race in a Formula E car. Pascal Wehrlein made his 50th appearance, while René Rast was starting for the 25th time in the electric racing series. Hankook congratulates all of the above on their own personal milestones!
A fantastic drone show shortly before the races on Friday and Saturday produced an absolute wow moment in the paddock and grandstands in Diriyah. 550 illuminated flying objects conjured up various images in the night sky above the desert.