WEHRLEIN EXTENDS SERIES LEAD WITH P4 DESPITE PRACTICE SHUNT!
Monaco Increase Management driver Pascal Wehrlein took a hard-fought fourth place at the Greenko Hyderabad e-prix on Saturday, despite a massive shunt in free practice due to a technical failure which cut off his running on the inaugural Indian racing track. This result allows MIM’s Wehrlein to further extend his series lead, taking his tally to 80 points, while direct rival Jake Dennis had an unfortunate weekend.
On Firday’s free practice first session, Wehrlein’s 94 Porsche 99X was seen to approach Turn 18 – the last corner of the 2.9 Km street course – at full speed, spinning several times before hitting the barrier with its front end. Wehrlein was complaining of a ‘jammed’ throttle control and this was found to be the cause of the accident. Pascal was taken to the Medical Center for routine checks but soon given the OK to race, but the car needed extensive repair and, for precautionary reasons, all Porsche-powered cars were grounded. For Wehrlein, this meant entering Qualifying with no track experience and that kept him out of the battle for pole, relegating his to 12th on the grid.
The start of the race was very cautions for Wehrlein, who got stuck in traffic lost some positions as he clearly was trying to save energy for the latter phase of the 32-laps event. From P16, Pascal started to work his way through a race of attrition, dodging accidents and entering his first ‘attack mode’ zone on lap 19. Wehrlein’s second extra power phase followed almost immediately, before the race was stopped by the safety car after Hughes’ crash. The green flag re-started the race on lap 26 when Pascal, who had already climbed back to P8, saw championship rival Dennis lose positions after an accident. The race’s extra lap (to compensate for the Safety Car period) was critical to many drivers whose batteries were running low, while Wehrlein had preserved enough energy to cross the finish line in P5. His further promotion to fourth came courtesy of a penalty handed over to Buemi for using extra power. Thus, Wehrlein and MIM managed to overturn the weekend after a difficult start and now look ahead with confidence to the next round in Capetown, South Africa.