Alexander Sims manages to place his BMW on pole for the second time in Diriyah. Sims now holds record for most pole positions in a row after earning the last one of Season 5.
We saw a very interesting second Qualifying for Round 2 in Diriyah with cars showing how they are handling the ever changing conditions. Drivers to watch to see if they could redeem themselves were Felipe Massa, Jean-Eric Vergne and James Calado. All three drivers manage to hit the wall and cause damage which needed to be quickly fixed before the exciting Qualifying and Superpole shootout.
The 4 Qualifying groups were completely different to Round 1 with the top 6 of the race starting in that very controversial Group 1. Many drivers who were complaining of Group 1 found themselves in Groups 3 or 4, which gave them a chance to show their speed and skill.
Starting with Group 1, we had Round 1 race winner, Sam Bird, along with Andre Lotterer, Stoffel Vandoorne, Robin Frijns, Oliver Rowland and Nyck De Vries. All 6 cars started the session with 3 minutes and 15 seconds remaining, with Rowland at the front of the pack. You could hear Rowland squeeling round the track as he went up to full power mode (250KW) and his final sector did not go well which saw him go 5th in his group. De Vries seemed rather quick in the first sector but the final two did not go to plan as he lost the rear at turns 8 and 9, almost hitting the wall and finished last out of the 6 drivers. Bird continued to show how it is done by setting the quickest first sector of his group and going fastest overall with a 1:12.007.
Group 2 saw Felipe Massa, Mitch Evans, Edoardo Mortara, Jerome D’Ambrosio and pole sitter from Round 1, Sims. The BMW driver came out onto track first but you could see he was struggling slightly for grip. Despite this, Sims was very quick in sector 1 which none of the other drivers were able to match. Massa’s lap seemed to drift away as he could only manage 6th but then was pushed put of the Superpole spot by Mortara and D’Ambrosio. D’Ambrosio was extremely lucky as just before he crossed the line, he hit the left rear against the wall but still went to the top of the charts with a 1:11.835.
Next up, we saw Group 3 with Oliver Turvey, Lucas Di Grassi, Antonio Felix Da Costa, Neel Jani, Maximilian Gunther and James Calado. Gunther was trying everything he could to put in a good lap and things started well as the first sector looked strong but the final two sectors fell away from him. Di Grassi went quicker than Gunther and happened to place 4th in Superpole contention. Both Calado and Jani had terrible laps, ending qualifying down the bottom of the times but Da Costa went right to the top with a 1:11.418.
Finally, we had Group 4 with Brendon Hartley, Nico Muller, Sebastian Buemi, Jean-Eric Vergne, Ma Qinghua and Daniel Abt. It was visibly difficult for both Geox Dragon drivers as their cars did not seem to be handling the track well at all with Hartley starting 20th. Muller was seen on track first and did put in a semi decent sector 1 but things all went wrong at turn 18 and ended qualifying down in 23rd. Vergne had to try and pull something special out the bag after his issues in practice but will start P11, giving him good overtaking opportunities. Buemi then put in the quickest sector 1 of anyone and slotted his car in 2nd, behind Da Costa.
We had our 6 Superpole shooters of Da Costa, Buemi, D’Ambrosio, Sims, Di Grassi and Evans who would battle it out for that all important pole position and 3 championship points. Evans out first and was slightly offline with a little oversteer round the first corners but put in a very decent lap and put in a great start time of 1:11.929. Di Grassi then took to the track and was looking very quick. He managed to keep it rather nice and tidy, depsite too much oversteer at turn 17 but still went quicker with a 1:11.784. Next up, we had Sims who, again, kept it very tidy and put in a fantastic first sector but had a huge drift slide at turn 17 which almost saw him sideways. This did not seem to phase the Brit at all as he then went quickest with a 1:11.476. D’Ambrosio was next out and had an immediate lock up at turn 1, making him go wide but recovered well. Even though he put in a decent lap, D’Ambrosio only managed to slot in 4th. Buemi was our penultimate driver and put in a very clean lap. Right near the end at turn 20, he got very close to the wall but still put his car on the first row, going 2nd. Last up, was Da Costa and looked as if he was going to get the top spot with a brilliant first sector. He looked very fast but then things all went wrong with two huge slides at turn 14 and then again around 16/17 which cost him the lap, 2 seconds off the pace.
This meant that Sims was on pole for the third time in a row after gaining pole in New York at the end of Season 5 and pole for Round 1 in Season 6. The BMW team were visibly overjoyed at this new record. Formula E Reporter, Nicki Sheilds, caught up with the Brit and asked him about his thoughts on his third pole, “seems slightly bazaar but fantastic”. Sims was very happy with another pole but still spoke about the job ahead, “Just have to get the race right this time”, after Sims fell down the order in Round 1.
BREAKING NEWS – Jean-Eric Vergne will now start at the back of the grid due to a battery change.
Check back later on for Round 2 of the Diriyah E-Prix and all the Formula E action.
Feature Image: BMW Motorsport Twitter Page