Alexander Sims secures back-to-back Saudi poles

by Nathan Hine
Alexander Sims on pole for race two in Diriyah

Alexander Sims has taken pole position yet again as the BMW i Andretti Motorsport secured his second successive Formula E pole in the 2019 Ad Diriyah ePrix. The BMW driver strung together a phenomenal lap in Super Pole to beat Nissan e. dams driver Sebastien Buemi by over two tenths of a second in an ultra-competitive qualifying session in Saudi Arabia.

The first qualifying session got underway with Nissan e. dams driver Oliver Rowland heading out first, just ahead of Mercedes-Benz EQ driver Nyck De Vries. Compared to yesterday’s session, the drivers headed out relatively early with all drivers making it comfortably across the line with 15 seconds left on the clock. Rowland was the first man to set his qualifying lap of a 1 min 12.660, but it did not take long before he was beaten. Podium finisher Andre Lotterer bettered his effort, with Stoffel Vandoorne slotting in just behind. Robin Frijns fell just short of the Porsche and Mercedes duo with yesterday’s race winner Sam Bird topping the group despite a mistake in the final sector. But there were calamities for De Vries as he made a big error through turns 8/9 to be over two seconds slower than Bird’s time and will start from last place in this afternoon’s ePrix.

Just like yesterday, Sims decided to set his own pace as he headed out onto the racetrack early. The pole-sitter from the first race set a good lap-time of a 1 min 11.858 to set the initial the pace. Felipe Massa was next man out onto the racetrack and after a frustrating day yesterday, he set a reasonable lap but may struggle to maintain a good grid position. The sister car of Edoardo Mortara was next out, and while he set the fifth-quickest time at the end of the group, but would not do enough to get into Super Pole. Pascal Wehrlein made a mistake in the fast-sweepers of turns 8/9 which only put him ninth at the time in what has been a disappointing weekend for the German thus far. Mitch Evans ran next and went third fastest followed by an out of control end to the lap from Jerome D’Ambrosio: both of whom made it into Super Pole.

The third qualifying group presented an opportunity for some of the more established stars to rectify a difficult start to the season. Both Lucas Di Grassi and Antonio Felix Da Costa utilized their opportunity well and made it into Super Pole, with the Portuguese racer gaining the point for topping overall group qualifying. Maxmillian Gunther matched his grid position from yesterday and will start ninth while disappointment prevailed for Oliver Turvey, Neel Jani and James Calado who will start 19th, 20th and 22nd respectively.

The final qualifying group saw the top two in the championship from last season: Jean-Eric Vergne and Buemi after both failed to finish the opening race of the season. But after missing practice this morning, the reigning champion lacked experience on the new and improved surface and will start from eleventh. Buemi meanwhile maximized the conditions to make it into Super Pole. Daniel Abt failed to deliver for Audi and will occupy fifth on the grid while the two GEOX Dragon Racing cars of Nico Muller and Brendon Hartley struggled with the car systems and will have another tall order this afternoon.

The Super Pole session saw Evans, Di Grassi, Sims, D’ Ambrosio, Buemi and Felix Da Costa compete over pole position and the Kiwi set an early benchmark of a 1 min 11.929. He was soon beaten by his Brazilian rival who went a couple of tenths quicker. But that was nothing compared to Sims, as the astute British racer put in another worldly lap, including a phenomenal four-wheel drift through turn seventeen to go a full three and a half tenths quicker than Di Grassi. Buemi put together a solid effort, but fell a couple of tenths shy of Sims. And just like yesterday, the group qualifying pace-setter was unable to string it together when it mattered as Felix Da Costa lost it through the middle sector with two huge slides which put pay to his ambitions of pole position.

The second race of the season in Ad Diriyah will get underway at 1200 GMT.

Position#DriverTeamTimeGap
125Alexander SimsBMW i Andretti Motorsport1.11.476+0.00
223Sébastien BuemiNissan e.dams+0.220
311 Lucas di GrassiAudi Sport Abt Schaeffler Formula E Team+0.308
420Mitch EvansPanasonic Jaguar Racing+0.453
564Jérôme d'AmbrosioMahindra Racing+0.617
613António Félix da CostaDS Techeetah+2.658
72 Sam BirdEnvision Virgin Racing1.12.007+0.559
848 Edoardo MortaraVenturi Formula E Team+0.590
928Maximilian GüntherBMW i Andretti Motorsport+0.633
1036 André LottererPorsche Formula E Team+0.735
1125 Jean-Éric VergneDS Techeetah+0.909
125Stoffel VandoorneMercedes EQ Formula E Team+1.004
134 Robin FrijnsEnvision Virgin Racing+1.113
1494Pascal WehrleinMahindra Racing+1.036
1566 Daniel AbtAudi Sport Abt Schaeffler Formula E Team+1.224
1619 Felipe MassaVenturi Formula E Team+1.238
1722Oliver RowlandNissan e.dams+1.243
183Oliver TurveyNIO 333 FE Team+1.253
1991 Neel JaniPorsche Formula E Team+1.314
206Brendon HartleyGEOX Dragon+1.764
2133Ma QinghuaNIO 333 FE Team+1.787
2251James CaladoPanasonic Jaguar Racing+2.012
237Nico MüllerGEOX Dragon+2.285
2417Nyck de VriesMercedes EQ Formula E Team+2.664

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