BMW i Andretti Motorsport’s Antonio Felix da Costa led the way in qualifying for the season-opening round of the ABB Formula E Championship, confirming the German manufacturer’s impressive pace first seen in pre-season testing. The Portuguese driver set a 1m17.728s lap around the 2.495km/1.55-mile Ad Diriyah street circuit to take the team’s first-ever Formula E pole, while NIO Formula E Team’s Tom Dillmann took second but came under investigation by the FIA for deviating from the set qualifying format. Dillmann completed multiple laps in his NIO Sport 004 rather than completing an out-lap, a 200kW sighting tour and a 250kW flying lap before finishing with an in-lap.
After the morning’s sessions were disrupted by bouts of heavy rain, the qualifying format changed, seeing two groups of 11 cars per group go out — the first made up of the top five finishers in the 2017/18 championship. With no Super Pole, the drivers times will dictate their starting position in the inaugural E-Prix in Saudi Arabia later today. The session is the first wet classified session in the history of the ABB FIA Formula E Championship.
Finishing third was Geox Dragon’s Jose-Maria Lopez, who completed the session with a best time of 1m18.113s while Nissan e.dams Sebastien Buemi placed fourth. For our reigning champion, Jean-Eric Vergne (DS Techeetah), the Frenchman failed to make it anywhere near the top, placing seventh, while his teammate Andre Lotterer placed 10th.
Rookie HWA Racelab driver Stoffel Vandoorne managed to place fifth after setting the pace during the morning’s practice session. The Belgian driver is new to series alongside his teammate (and fellow rookie) Gary Paffett, who finished 15th.
After a crash in the morning’s practice session, Mahindra Racing’s Felix Rosenqvist met with the wall for a second time today while Geox Dragon’s rookie Maximilian Guenther came to a stop on track during the second half of the session after grazing the wall. Neither posted a time during the session and will start at the back of the pack.
Rosenqvist’s incident led to disruption for Alexander Sims, Felipe Massa and both Mitch Evans and Nelson Piquet Jr’s laps. For reigning champions Audi Sport Abt Schaeffler, Lucas di Grassi just fell short of the top ten while his teammate Daniel Abt finished near the back of the pack in 18th.
For Venturi Formula E’s Felipe Massa, he’ll have to work his way from the back of the pack after finishing in 19th, while his teammate Edoardo Mortara finished five places above him despite an incident in the morning’s practice session.