2024 Formula E Diriyah E-Prix | 6 talking points

29th January 2024
Simon Ostler

The first double header of the 2024 Formula E season served up plenty of action over two days in the Saudi Arabia desert. We’re three races in, and we’re beginning to get an idea of the pecking order for the second season with Gen3 cars. The championship remains wide open for now, but some familiar names are beginning to show themselves at the top of standings. Let’s take a look at all the fallout from the Diriyah E-Prix.


Nick Cassidy straight up to speed with Jaguar

He has quietly been the star performer of the season so far, with three podium finishes from the first three races, Nick Cassidy takes a commanding 19-point lead in the championship. His move from reigning teams’ champions Envision to Jaguar was the big headline over the winter, and it looks to have paid off.

He qualified down in seventh for the first race of the double-header weekend, but fought his way back up to third place with a consistently measured aggression and solid attack mode strategy, eventually clinching the final podium place from his team-mate Mitch Evans after a failed overtake on the final lap.

His pace in the second race of the weekend was nigh on unbeatable as he saw off the challenge of Robin Frijns to take a comfortable victory. On a weekend when overtaking looked tricky on the narrow and low-grip surface, Cassidy was the standout performer as he made progress in both races.

Mitch Evans will now be on high alert as his new team-mate threatens to put him in the shade. His mistake ultimately allowed Cassidy through in race one, but the cracks were already beginning to show as the Jaguar team ordered Evans to let Cassidy through to help with the latter’s race strategy. This pairing will be one to watch for the remainder of the season.


Dennis and Andretti hot and cold

Jake Dennis set his championship defence on fire in Diriyah with a frightening performance in race one of the weekend that saw him win with a margin 13.2 seconds from Jean-Eric Vergne. It was a showcase of what we can expect from this explosive pairing of team and driver when everything’s going well.

And yet, after that hugely dominant display on Friday, one day later, Dennis proclaimed the Andretti car was the worst he had ever driven in Formula E as he slumped to just 15th on the grid for round three.

It’s an inauspicious start to the year for the reigning champ, but the promise of purely unbeatable speed will be enough to keep heads engaged for now with thirteen races remaining in the season.


DS Penske confirms its pace

After a shoddy season by the DS team’s standards in 2023, a quiet but promising performance at the opening round of 2024 in Mexico proved the hard work over the winter had yielded some speed. In the hands of Jean-Eric Vergne at least, that pace was confirmed when he shot to pole position in Diriyah, a success which also saw him the second driver to score 1,000 points in Formula E.

While he and Stoffel Vandoorne didn’t quite have the outright pace of Dennis’ Andretti or the two Jaguars, a consistent performance yielded four strong points finishes over the two rounds, and DS finds itself second in the team’s championship behind the fast-starting Jaguar.

Vergne’s performance in race two was feisty as he tried desperately to hang on to the podium places as Jake Dennis disappeared into the distance. He used all of his experience and guile to keep the faster Jaguars behind him, eventually forcing Mitch Evans into a mistake on the final lap. We’ve seen in years past that consistency is the key to success in Formula E, and DS looks to be on for a decent season.


Sergio Sette Camara shines for ERT

Now in his fourth full season in Formula E, Sergio Sette Camara has spent the majority of his time floundering towards the rear of the field. That looks likely to continue in 2024 as he races again for the now re-branded ERT team. But, quite literally out of nowhere, the 25-year-old Brazilian stormed his way into the semi-finals of the qualifying duals. He was edged out by eventual pole sitter Jean-Eric Vergne, but it was an interesting turn of pace.

He couldn’t maintain it in the race, as he fell back sharply through the field. He did manage to cling onto ninth place and two valuable points, as Dan Ticktum suffered an awful incident-packed weekend.


Nyck de Vries’ struggles continue

That world championship triumph seems like an awful long time ago now. After a disappointing final year with Mercedes he finally got his dream move to F1, only to find his time there cut horribly short. He has returned this season to a Mahindra team that has suffered an equally troubled period, and looks set to struggle for the duration.

The Mahindra powertrain is lacking performance right now, and the team is languishing at the bottom of the pole alongside customer outfit ABT Cupra. Alongside Edoardo Mortara, De Vries makes up one of the more successful driver line-ups on the 2024 grid, but a lacklustre car looks set to stifle any hopes of victory.


This world championship is wide open

Three races, three different winners already in the 2024 Formula E season, and it’s a feeling of same old, same old. You have to say Jaguar is the favourite after three rounds, but the quiet consistency of DS Penske, the frightening pace of Jake Dennis in the Andretti in Diriyah and the potential of Pascal Wehrlein at Porsche will all have plenty to say in the remaining races.

Reigning champions Envision have shown glimpses of pace, but a messy weekend for Buemi in Diriyah has put him well and truly on the back foot. Oliver Rowland’s qualifying prowess will no doubt prove useful, but in a Nissan that lacks race pace he’ll likely struggle to maintain a championship challenge.

Images courtesy of Motorsport Images.

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