Formula E

De Vries Beats Mortara to Pole Position in Exciting Knockout Qualifying Session in Diriyah

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Credit: FIA Formula E

Nyck de Vries secured only his second pole position of his ABB FIA Formula E World Championship career by just five-thousandths of a second in the Qualifying final against Edoardo Mortara on Saturday.

The Mercedes-EQ Formula E Team driver appeared to have it firmly in his grasp as a slide at the first turn by the ROKiT Venturi Racing driver left Mortara on the back foot, but the Swiss driver attacked throughout the lap and closed the gap going into the final sector.

De Vries held on by the narrowest of margins to secure top spot and score three more points towards the championship, with the Dutchman having started the season with a victory in race one on Friday.

De Vries was the only driver to make it into the semi-finals on both days of Qualifying, and he edged out Venturi’s Lucas di Grassi, while Mortara beat Envision Racing’s Robin Frijns.  As a result of setting the faster time, Frijns will start third on the grid and will be aiming for his first points of the year on Saturday evening.

Di Grassi had one of the more controversial moments of the session as he was unable to get on track for his quarter-final as DS Techeetah’s António Félix da Costa did not leave the pit lane when his green lit shown at the end of the pit lane, with the Portuguese leaving when di Grassi was supposed to. 

As a result, Félix da Costa is under investigation by the stewards, although he was furious after the run as he appeared to back off in the final sector believing di Grassi was not going to get a run in.  However, stewards gave di Grassi the chance to do a lap, and he promptly went quicker than the 2019/20 series champion.

In the other quarter finals, de Vries beat DS Techeetah’s Jean-Éric Vergne, Mortara outpaced Tag Heuer Porsche FE Team’s André Lotterer and Frijns defeated Mahindra Racing’s Oliver Rowland.  Unfortunately for Rowland, he has a three-place grid penalty for a collision with Frijns during Friday’s opening race.

Friday’s pole sitter Stoffel Vandoorne will start only twelfth after failing to make it through to the knockout stages, while the other front row starter from Friday – Avalanche Andretti Formula E Team’s Jake Dennis – was also eliminated, although he will start eighth on the grid after Rowland’s penalty is applied.

Alexander Sims had a much better Qualifying performance compared to what he achieved on Friday and will start ninth for Mahindra, just ahead of the second Porsche of Pascal Wehrlein, while Rowland’s penalty will see him start eleventh, just ahead of Vandoorne.

Nick Cassidy missed the session after crashing his Envision Racing machine during Saturday morning’s practice session, while both Jaguar TCS Racing drivers clipped the wall, with Mitch Evans ending sixteenth with bent steering, and Sam Bird twenty-first as a result of a damaged wishbone.

Oliver Askew was again the best of the rookies, with the Andretti driver fifteenth on the grid. Dan Ticktum (NIO 333 FE Team) will start eighteenth and Antonio Giovinazzi (Dragon/Penske Autosport) twentieth.

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