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Hughes is presented with the pole position award in the Round 3 Qualifying.

Diriyah E-Prix Qualifying: Rookie Hughes takes his first pole position

McLaren rookie Jake Hughes took his first pole position after a brilliant drive all qualifying.

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Rookie Jake Hughes continued to impress, setting multiple fastest laps — and ultimately taking his first pole position.

Jake Hughes in his McLaren at the Diriyah E-Prix
McLaren were ecstatic after Hughes won his first pole position in Diriyah. (Image credit: @d_panelo on Twitter)

It’s the second qualifying session of the weekend ahead of the final race in Diriyah this afternoon. There were eyes on Jake Dennis and Pascal Wehrlein this session, as Wehrlein’s victory yesterday now leaves the two drivers separated by only one championship point. It might only be early in the season, but this could be the beginning of a championship battle…

In the end, it was rookie driver Jake Hughes who was the most impressive, clinching his first-ever Formula E pole position in only his third round.

The Groups

Group A

Envision driver Nick Cassidy was the first driver to take to the track, followed by teammate, and yesterday’s pole sitter, Sebastian Buemi. Early in the session, Jake Hughes set a time of 1:10.029, only 0.249s ahead of Jake Dennis.

Sam Bird suffered a big lockup at turn 18. Defending champion Stoffel Vandoorne soon improved on Dennis’ time, which was promising news for the DS Penske team, who are yet to make it through to the duels this season.

Two minutes remaining…

Ticktum put in a stellar lap in the final two minutes of the session. The NIO driver went three-tenths quicker than Hughes, going fastest in sector one. Da Costa went second quickest, only 0.134s off of Ticktum’s time.

Da Costa went for a second push lap but could not improve his time. Things were looking great for Jaguar as Bird topped timesheets in the final minute of the session. However, a series of brilliant laps from four other drivers pushed him out of the top four. Meanwhile, a cat running out across the track (yes, a cat!) prevented Ticktum from improving on his earlier time.

The session finished with Bird narrowly missing out on the duels. Rookie Jake Hughes, meanwhile, continued to impress, topping the timesheets. Buemi continued to look strong after his brilliant performance in qualifying yesterday, whilst DS Penske were now on their way to make their first duels appearance this year.

Through to the quarter-finals: Hughes, Buemi, Vandoorne and Dennis

Group B

Yesterday’s winner, Pascal Wehrlein, was the first driver out on track. The Porsche driver was followed by Mahindra’s Lucas Di Grassi. Wehrlein and Rast came out looking strong. Jean-Eric Vergne was looking quick too — more good news for DS Penske. 

Evans went quickest with six minutes to go, before the drivers headed to the pits to recoup ahead of a final push at the end of the session.

One minute to go…

Fenestraz started a push lap and was certainly hoping for a better result than yesterday’s qualifying session. He went third fastest, behind Evans and Wehrlein.

Rast’s McLaren was looking very racy, going fastest in sector two. As the chequered flag waved, he went quickest overall. However, Evans soon went faster, pushing Rast down to second.

Mortara went fourth fastest, pushing teammate Günther out of the duels. Despite this, Maserati are sure to be happy to have a driver in the duels after a disastrous qualifying for the team yesterday.

Through to the quarter-finals: Evans, Rast, Wehrlein and Mortara

The Duels
Quarter final one: Vandoorne vs Buemi

The drivers started off neck-and-neck. Vandoorne snuck in a 0.016s advantage, before Buemi pushed ahead with a tenth of a second. Although Vandoorne started to chip away at the gap, he was unable to catch up with Buemi.

Buemi goes through to the semi-finals.

Quarter final two: Dennis vs Hughes

It was the battle of the Jakes… and Hughes was immediately faster than Dennis, ahead by almost three-tenths of a second. Hughes remained quickest, and finished ahead of Dennis by almost half a second.

Hughes goes through to the semi-finals.

Quarter final three: Wehrlein vs Rast

It was close between the two drivers, with four-hundredths of a second between them. Rast remained ahead, with Wehrlein attempting – but ultimately failing – to catch him. That’s neither Wehrlein nor Dennis through to the semi-finals, but it’s still a better grid position than yesterday for both drivers.

Rast goes through to the semi-finals.

Quarter final four: Mortara vs Evans

Evans came out fastest and remained ahead of Mortara the entire lap. Mortara attempted to catch the Jaguar driver but could not close the gap.

Evans goes through to the semi-finals.

The Semi-Finals

There was the potential for a McLaren front-row lockout here, with both drivers making an appearance in the semi-finals.

Semi-final one: Buemi vs Hughes

Hughes was fastest off the bat, two-tenths up after the first five corners. He continued to increase his advantage over Buemi before the Envision driver started to catch him up. Buemi closed the gap bit by bit, but Hughes clung on, widening the gap by the final corner.

It was another fastest lap of the weekend from Hughes, which sees the rookie through to the final.

Semi-final two: Evans vs Rast

Evans started the lap faster than Rast. Despite Rast’s attempts to catch him, Evans was ultimately able to stay ahead of the McLaren driver.

That’s Evans through to the final, with Rast set to start from P3 in the race this evening.

The Final: Evans vs Hughes

The last duel began with Evans going out first. There was a close margin between the drivers, with Hughes ahead only slightly.

Hughes then went ahead by 0.245s, but Evans started to close the gap. It was nail-bitingly close, with only 0.007s between the two. It all came down to the final corner.

In the end, Hughes stayed ahead — and took his first-ever pole in the Formula E championship. McLaren were all smiles, and Rast looked absolutely delighted for his teammate.

Wehrlein and Dennis will start the race side-by-side, which could make for some exciting action between the two. It’s a top 10 start for defending champion Stoffel Vandoorne, whilst yesterday’s polesitter, Buemi, starts in fourth.

The starting grid for the race this evening is as follows:

Featured Image Credit: Channel 4 Sport via YouTube

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