Robin Frijns has secured pole position for the second round of the Formula E season in Saudi Arabia. Sam Bird, Oliver Turvey, Tom Blomqvist, and Nico Mueller complete the top 6.
All four Mercedes vehicles could not even start the qualifying. After the brake problem, which allegedly led to the serious accident of Edoardo Mortara in the customer Mercedes of Venturi, the FIA made a serious decision:
The second Venturi of Norman Nato and both Mercedes cars of Nyck de Vries and Stoffel Vandoorne were not allowed to start in the qualifying. Because Mortara was still in hospital and Porsche had not yet repaired Andre Lotterer’s accident car, only 19 of 24 cars started qualifying.
First qualifying group:
In group 1 it got even more curious: again, some drivers played poker to cross the starting line as late as possible in order to find better track conditions. This risk did not pay off: both Mitch Evans and Rene Rast crossed the line too late and were thus unable to set a fast-qualifying lap. A disaster for Jaguar and Audi.
Second qualifying group:
In group 2, the next surprise: Oliver Turvey in the NIO 333 set the interim fastest time – more than two-tenths of a second ahead of Antonio Felix da Costa, who finished in second place. Alexander Sims in the Mahindra finished fourth behind Rowland, Audi driver Lucas di Grassi landed in a disappointing fifth place in the meantime. Only BMW rookie Jake Dennis was slower.
Third qualifying group:
In the third group, Robin Frijns underlined his strong pace from practice and took the lead with the fastest times in all three sectors – with an advantage of more than half a second. Tom Blomqvist surprisingly also put the second NIO in the top 3, beating his teammate Turvey. Jean-Eric Vergne and Sebastien Buemi also showed decent laps and settled in positions 4 and 5.
Fourth qualifying group:
In the last group, Sergio Sette Camara was the fastest: with a strong lap, the Dragon driver qualified for the Super Pole for the first time in second place. Sam Bird finished fourth, and Nico Muller also moved into the final shoot-out for pole position in sixth place. Alex Lynn finished ninth, with Nick Cassidy 11th. A disappointing performance delivered Max Günther, who put his BMW despite optimal track conditions only on the twelfth starting position.
Mueller opened the super pole first with fast sectors. However, the Swiss then hit the dust off the racing line at turn 16, losing crucial tenths of a second towards the end of the lap. Oliver Turvey was subsequently more than six-tenths of a second faster – another strong lap from the Briton. Then compatriot Sam Bird came along in the Jaguar with a very similar pace and ultimately beat Turvey by 0.034s. Blomqvist got off to a poor start and lost a lot of time in the first sector. He sorted himself in behind his NIO teammate Turvey. Sergio Sette Camara even managed to beat Bird and took over first place for the time being. But then group stage winner Frijns came along and prevailed by a wide margin: With an advantage of more than three-tenths of a second, the Dutchman secured pole position for the second round of the Formula E season.
The question remains whether Mercedes and Venturi will be allowed to compete. First of all, they now have to explain the brake problem on Edo Mortara’s car to the FIA. Whether the Swiss will be able to take part in the race is also still highly questionable.