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Stoffel Vandoorne, DS Penske, DS E-Tense FE23 / Qualifying

Diriyah E-Prix: Round 3 Qualifying results

Who took pole on the second day in Diriyah?

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The doubleheader in the dark in Diriyah saw Oliver Rowland take pole position in qualifying for the second race.

Podium of Diriyah Day 1
Jake Dennis wins thrilling first race of Diriyah E-Prix weekend (Image Credit: Mos/2.8 Pro/Jorge Ferrari)

On the second race day in Saudi Arabia, the aim was – as always – to secure the best starting position. In the time trial, drivers initially compete in two groups. Subsequently, the top four performers from each group engage in a knockout duel.

Following the Formula E tradition, the groups for the race are organised based on the current championship standings. Drivers occupying odd-numbered championship positions start in Group A, while those in even-numbered positions start in Group B. They contend sequentially for the fastest lap times. Following this, the knockout phase occurs “within” the groups. In the quarterfinals, the quickest driver faces the fourth most rapid, and the second fastest competes against the third fastest within the same group.

The track this evening was characterised by little grip – it was like “driving on ice”.

Qualifying Group A

Group A consisted of Wehrlein, Vergne, Evans, Günther, Nato, Vandoorne, Frijns, Fenestraz, de Vries, Felix da Costa and Ticktum.

The first 12 minutes were about crystallising the best four drivers to progress to the knockout phase.

The first fastest time came from Dan Ticktum, who took the lead with a 1:13.875. However, this was quickly eclipsed by Mitch Evans, Robin Frijns, Nyck de Vries and Sacha Fenestraz, among others. Evans’ fastest time was 1:11.276 before the drivers returned to the pit lane. Frijns set a 1:11.509, while De Vries showed his first real sign of life since his return to Formula E: with a 1:11.619, he looked much more competitive than on yesterday’s race day.

Just under three minutes were left on the clock when all the drivers returned to the track.

Sacha Fenestraz set a 1:10.641 in his Nissan – the track evolution was clearly recognisable. Robin Frijns set a 1:10.784, Vergne a 1:10.836 and Vandoorne a 1:10.871.

Fenestraz, Vergne,  Frijns and Vandoorne got into the knockouts.

De Vries, Ticktum, Wehrlein, Günther, Evans and Felix da Costa did not enter the knockout phase—a bitter setback for both Porsche drivers and Evans in particular.

Qualifying Group B

Oliver Rowland set the first fast time, a 1:10.784. He was followed by Jake Hughes with a 0.063-second gap, Buemi with a 0.368-second gap and shortly afterwards, Daruvala shot up to 3rd place with a 1:11.040.

Before the drivers set a final fast lap, Jake Dennis, the current Formula E world champion, and Sam Bird, who switched to McLaren for this season, would not be in the knockout phase.

Nissan has looked particularly strong today, with Rowland and Fenestraz well on track to fight their way into the front rows of the grid.

Red Flag

In turn three, Sebastien Buemi crashed on a fast lap after the chequered flag – a red flag followed, which delayed qualifying. When asked by his engineer if Buemi was okay, he replied “no”. But he got out of the car without further assistance. According to initial findings, there were probably problems with the brakes, although his fault could not be ruled out.

Jake Dennis was one of the drivers who could not set a fast time due to the red flag and finished qualifying in 8th place.

Rowland, Cassidy, Hughes and Daruvala got into the knockouts.

Buemi, Sette Camara, Bird, Dennis, Müller, Mortara and Di Grassi were eliminated.

Quarter Finals

Buemi damaged the Tec-Pro barrier, which took a little longer to repair. The duels were delayed.

Jean-Eric Vergne vs. Robin Frijns

Frijns drove behind Vergne in the 1st Quarter Final. Both showed a similar pace, with Frijns just ahead of the DS Penske driver. Vergne set a 1:11.112, while Frijns set a 1:10.8 – the Dutchman thus entered the Semi-Finals.

Stoffel Vandoorne vs. Sacha Fenestraz

Vandoorne was ahead in this session, while Fenestraz had to catch up – he actually made a mistake in turn 1, which gave Vandoorne a clear lead. This lead lasted throughout the entire lap, allowing Vandoorne to advance to the semi-finals.

Jake Hughes vs. Nick Cassidy

Nick Cassidy drove into the knockout lap ahead of Hughes and led by several tenths throughout. Jake Hughes retired, while Cassidy entered the semi-finals in the Jaguar.

Jehan Daruvala vs. Oliver Rowland

A first for Jehan Daruvala: The rookie was in his first knockout phase, but the Maserati driver had little chance against the more experienced Oliver Rowland. Daruvala clocked a 1.10.7, and Rowland set a 1.10.149 – the fastest time in today’s knockout so far. Daruvala will start the race from P5, which is a great result for the young driver.

Semi Finals

Robin Frijns vs. Stoffel Vandoorne

Robin Frijns and Stoffel Vandoorne are close to each other, but Frijns is consistently a bit ahead of Vandoorne – which remained the case until the end of the lap. Frijns advanced to the final.

Nick Cassidy vs. Oliver Rowland

Rowland started faster into the first corners and demonstrated the fastest lap of the day with a 1.10.098 – so far. Nick Cassidy was eliminated and did not progress to the final.

Final

Robin Frijns vs. Oliver Rowland

Oliver Rowland was just under a tenth faster than Frijns from the start of the final lap of qualifying. This also remained the case in and after the second sector. Oliver Rowland secured his sixth pole position in Diriyah with a 1.10.005.

Final results

1. Oliver Rowland
2. Robin Frijns
3. Nick Cassidy
4.Stoffel Vandoorne
5. Jehan Daruvala
6. Jake Hughes
7. Sacha Fenestraz
8. Jean-Eric Vergne
9. Sebastien Buemi
10. Pascal Wehrlein
11. Sergio Sette Camara
12. Maximilian Günther
13. Sam Bird
14. Mitch Evans
15. Jake Dennis
16. Dan Ticktum
17. Nico Müller
18. Nyck de Vries
19. Edoardo Mortara
20. Norman Nato
21. Lucas di Grassi
22. Antonio Felix da Costa

Feature Image Credit: Sam Bagnall via Formula E Media Bank

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