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Diriyah E-Prix qualifying: A shock pole position for a veteran driver

Sebastian Buemi takes an historic pole position in a McLaren and Jaguar dominated session

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A great display from Sebastian Buemi earned a pole position in front of the ever impressive rookie, Jake Hughes.

Sebastian Buemi’s Envision in action, before finishing in pole position. Image Credit: Channel 4 Sport via You Tube

Before heading into the results, make sure you’re up to date with the qualifying format as new fans may find it confusing. Formula E qualifying is unique.

The groups
Group A: 

Dan Ticktum was the first driver to enter the track after an electrifying practice session earlier in the day. He continued to show his street circuit expertise right from the off and burst out the gates with a 1:12.2. 

All eyes were then turned to Maximilian Günther who caused a red flag after losing control of the car and crashing into the barriers at turn 11. Fortunately, the Maserati driver was uninjured, but the German was clearly disappointed.  

His first push lap ended in disaster after a catastrophic lock up. Now, the team now have a lot of work to do to repair the car.  

We were back underway minutes later with every driver re-joining the track, bar Sacha Fenestraz. The favorites took their places at the top of the table halfway through qualifying, with Jake Dennis and Jake Hughes leading the group.  

There was more misery for Maserati as Edoardo Mortara guided the back end of his car into the wall. His session was over, and he swiftly returned to the pits. 

Jake Hughes topped the group, in front of Oliver Rowland, Dan Ticktum and Lucas Di Grassi behind. The three Brits were on top form in Group A, but there was one Englishman who disappointed. Championship leader Jake Dennis stormed into the garage after failing to make it into the duels, finishing P5.  

To progress: Hughes, Rowland, Ticktum and Di Grassi.  

Group B: 

Then it was time for group B, with Sam Bird leading the way. After just a few minutes, the session already looked promising for the likes of Sebastian Buemi and Rene Rast – who took their places in the top three. 

Both Jaguar drivers were also looking mighty quick as they soon took the second and third spot with six minutes to go. There was almost another crash a minute later as Kelvin van der Linde narrowly avoided a collision with the track barrier.  

With three minutes left, there was almost a crash between Pascal Wehrlein and Sergio Sette Camara. The Porsche driver nearly drove into the back of the slow-moving NIO. The stewards swiftly took the incident into investigation as Sette Camara complained that his mirrors were not working properly. 

On his 100th race, Sam Bird dropped a monstrous lap which took the Jaguar to first place in the group. Sebastian Buemi, Mitch Evans and Rene Rast made up the rest of the top four. The session ended with all four drivers moving into the duels. 

It was another shock for DS Penske as Stoffel Vandoorne and Jean Eric-Vergne failed to break into the duels once again.  

To progress: Bird, Buemi, Evans and Rast. 

The duels 

Both McLaren and Jaguar looked like the favorites for the front row as the only two teams with both of their drivers through to the duels. McLaren’s Jake Hughes and Jaguar’s Sam Bird delivered great laps and topped their respective groups. 

Quarter final one: Dan Ticktum vs Oliver Rowland 

The pair had never faced each other before in qualifying, and as specialists in duels – it was all set up for an exciting battle. 

Ticktum started the lap slightly quicker than his fellow Englishman, as they were soon separated by over two tenths. As they crossed the final corner, Ticktum was victorious as Rowland fell over half a second behind. 

Quarter final two: Lucas Di Grassi vs Jake Hughes 

It was a bad start for Hughes who started the lap with some sort of debris on the side of his car. However, it did nothing to stop the Englishman releasing full speed as he stormed into the lead of the battle, three tenths quicker. He crossed the line quicker than Di Grassi, to progress into the semifinal. 

Quarter final three: Mitch Evans vs Sebastain Buemi 

Jaguar looked quick in the groups, and it was no different in the duels as Evans quickly took two tenths from his opponent. However, a remarkable recovery from Buemi meant that the Envision car was put right back in front. The Swiss was able to win his first ever duel and progressed to the semifinal. 

Quarter final four: Rene Rast vs Sam Bird 

Sam Bird looked the best in the group stages, and he carried that pace through to his duel against the veteran, Rast. It was a tight battle as the pair were within a tenth of a second of each other throughout the lap. However, it was Bird who took the victory despite a great lap by Rene Rast. 

The Semi finals 

A surprise exit for Mitch Evans after a terrific performance from Envision’s Buemi was the biggest shock of the quarter finals. Jaguar’s Sam Bird looked in good form throughout the lap and Jake Hughes showed that the final may be an all-British battle. 

Semifinal one: Dan Ticktum vs Jake Hughes 

One in-form Brit versus another. The NIO driver showed more of his qualifying expertise today as the McLaren prodigy continued his mesmeric introduction to the sport. The quarter finals ended with the former having a quicker lap time. But it was Hughes who took his place in the final after Ticktum tragically lost control of his car at the last corner – narrowly avoiding a crash. 

Semifinal two: Sebastian Buemi vs Sam Bird 

It was Sam Bird who started quickest in the duel as he managed to keep Sebastian Buemi a tenth away. But once again, Buemi managed to create another comeback as he overturned the deficit in the second half of the lap. The Swiss driver was delighted as he took his place in the final. 

The last duel 

Hughes had a torrid time in his semifinal battle against Dan Ticktum as he scraped the wall numerous times. He knew that he would have to give his all to get one over Sebastian Buemi. 

The final: Jake Hughes vs Sebastian Buemi  

The McLaren driver scraped through the semifinal to face Formula E veteran, Sebastian Buemi who has now taken the record for the most front row starts in the sport, with 22. 

The Brummie started first and started quickest. He was wrestling with the McLaren for the whole lap which struggled to keep up with the ferocity of its driver.  

A great lap for Hughes was not enough though as Sebastian Buemi takes pole. Equaling the most pole positions in Formula E with 15, he will start the race in first today.  

Feature Image Credit: Channel 4 Sport via You Tube

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