Formula E

Rookie Sensation Jake Hughes Claims Memorable Diriyah Pole Position

5 Mins read
Credit: Simon Galloway courtesy of FIA Formula E

Jake Hughes is the rookie sensation that just won’t stay quiet, with the British driver having claimed an incredible pole position ahead of the second race at the Diriyah E-Prix, with the NEOM McLaren Formula E Team driver having claimed his, and the team’s first pole in the series. Lining-up alongside him on the front-row of the grid at the Riyadh Street Circuit is Mitch Evans, with Jaguar TCS Racing once again looking strong. Championship leader Jake Dennis was eliminated in the Quarter-Finals, as was yesterday’s winner Pascal Wehrlein.

Group A

As qualifying got underway for the third round of the 2022/23 ABB FIA Formula E World Championship, some of the star performers from yesterday featured in the opening group. Championship leader and second place finisher Dennis featured in the first group, as did race one’s polesitter Sébastian Buemi, third place finisher from yesterday Sam Bird, Hughes, Nick Cassidy, António Félix da Costa, reigning World Champion Stoffel Vandoorne, Norman Nato, Dan Ticktum, Sérgio Sette Câmara and Kelvin van der Linde.

After the initial lap-times, it was Hughes who topped the group on a 1:10.029, with the rookie hoping to make it three duel appearances in-a-row. Behind Hughes after the first runs were Vandoorne, Cassidy and Dennis, with the likes of Buemi and Bird having work to do in the final four minutes of the session to make the all-important top four. With two minutes remaining, Ticktum hit the front with a strong 1:09.698, putting him in a really strong position to make the top four.

In the final minute everyone was making massive improvements, with Da Costa and Cassidy having jumped into the top four. Both were almost immediately dumped out, though, as was Bird despite setting a strong 1:09.6. Hughes shot to the top on his final lap with a really impressive 1:09.36, to make his third consecutive duels appearance. Behind the British rookie was Friday polesitter Buemi, Vandoorne, who made it into the top four for the first time this season, and championship leader Dennis. It meant that both NIO 333 Racing drivers were also eliminated in the group stage.

Into the duels: Hughes, Buemi, Vandoorne, Dennis.

Group B

After an incredibly exciting opening group, the pressure was suddenly on Wehrlein in Group B to make it into the duels, with championship rival Dennis having done so. Joining Wehrlein in the second qualifying group was Lucas di Grassi, André Lotterer, René Rast, Jean-Éric Vergne, Sacha Fenestraz, Free Practice Three pacesetter Evans, Maximilian Günther, Edoardo Mortara, Oliver Rowland and Nico Mueller.

It was Saturday morning pacesetter Evans who topped the group after the first real push-laps, with the New Zealander having set a 1:09.557. Behind the Jaguar TCS Racing driver was Friday evening’s winner Wehrlein, who was just +0.019 off Evans’ time. Rounding off the top three was Rast and Vergne, as McLaren and DS Penske looked hopeful of getting both cars into the duels.

As the session entered its final two minutes, Fenestraz jumped into the the top four, demoting Vergne out of the duel spots, leaving the Frenchman with work to do. Into the final minute and improvements were being made across the board, as Rast hit the top, before Evans regained the top spot with a 1:09.401. Evans and Rast were comfortably one-two in the second group session, with Wehrlein just about making it through in third. Taking the final duel spot was Mortara, to the delight of Maserati MSG Racing, who endured a horrific Friday. It meant that Vergne was the big loser of Group B, with the Frenchman having to settle for sixteenth on the grid.

Into the duels: Evans, Rast, Wehrlein, Mortara


The opening Quarter-Final duel of the second day saw reigning Champion Vandoorne against former Champion and Friday evening winner Buemi, in what was a mouth-watering match-up. Through the first sector and the two drivers set identical first sectors, before Buemi pulled out a tenth on Vandoorne in the second sector. The Belgian crossed the line first but was then beaten by Buemi by three-tenths, with the Swiss driver pushing for back-to-back pole positions after becoming the first to dip into the 1:08s.

Quarter-Final two saw championship leader Dennis against fellow Briton Hughes, with the McLaren driver having remarkably gone nearly four-tenths faster than the Avalanche Andretti Formula E driver through the first two sectors. The McLaren driver went on to beat Dennis by almost half-a-second, after setting the fastest time of the weekend of a 1:08.748.

It was then over to Rast to try and make it both McLaren’s in the Semi-Finals; however, he was against yesterday’s winner Wehrlein. Nothing separated the two through the first sector, with Rast having been narrowly ahead. Rast maintained a slim lead through the second sector, with the German having been going exceptionally fast. He went on to beat Dennis with relative ease, after clocking a high 1:08s, making it both McLaren’s in the Semi-Finals.

The final Quarter-Final saw Mortara against Evans, with Maserati having simply been pleased to make it into the duel stage. Evans quickly built an advantage over the Swiss driver and found himself two-tenths ahead after the second sector. The New Zealander went on to set a 1:08.9, almost four-tenths faster than Mortara.


Semi-Final one saw Buemi against Hughes, in what was a repeat of yesterday’s Final. Through the first sector and Hughes was nearly four-tenths ahead, with his McLaren having looked to be on absolute rails. Buemi made up two-tenths in the second sector but couldn’t do enough to beat Hughes, who set a sensational 1:08.680, to make a second consecutive appearance in the Final.

The second Semi-Final saw Evans against the other McLaren of Rast, with the Jaguar driver having led by just over a tenth through the first two sectors. Rast tried to pull the gap back but simply didn’t have the pace to make it an all-McLaren Final, with Evans having beaten the German by almost three-tenths, thanks to setting a 1:08.690.


With just +0.010s having separated Hughes’ and Evans’ Semi-Final times, the Final duel looked set to be incredibly close, with Evans having been keen for his first pole of the Gen3 era, whilst Hughes was looking for his first-ever Formula E pole position.

It was Evans who was first to start his lap, however, Hughes behind went a tenth-faster in the first sector, before gaining another tenth on Evans in the second sector. In the final sector Evans brought the gap down to absolutely nothing, but Hughes refound a tenth-of-a-second in the final couple of corners, to claim his first pole position in Formula E.

Hughes’ pole position came thanks to a high 1:08.6, to seal his first Formula E pole on just his third attempt, with it also being McLaren’s first. Evans will line-up second on the grid, with Rast and Buemi making up the second-row of the grid.

So will Hughes be able to convert pole position into his first Formula E podium, and will Dennis and Wehrlein once again storm to the front? We will find out the answers in just a few hours/

Diriyah E-Prix Round 3: Full Qualifying Results

15Jake HughesGBRNEOM McLaren Formula E Team1:08.693
29Mitch EvansNZLJaguar TCS Racing1:08.797
358René RastGERNEOM McLaren Formula E Team1:08.922
416Sébastian BuemiCHEEnvision Racing1:08.926
594Pascal WehrleinGERTAG Heuer Porsche Formula E Team1:09.028
627Jake DennisGBRAvalanche Andretti Formula E1:09.198
748Edoardo MortaraCHEMaserati MSG Racing1:09.279
81Stoffel VandoorneBELDS Penske1:09.282
910Sam BirdGBRJaguar TCS Racing1:09.628
107Maximilian GüntherGERMaserati MSG Racing1:09.643
1133Dan TicktumGBRNIO 333 Racing1:09.698
1223Sacha FenestrazFRANissan Formula E Team1:09.670
133Sérgio Sette CâmaraBRZNIO 333 Racing1:09.735
148Oliver RowlandGBRMahindra Racing1:09.690
1537Nick CassidyNZLEnvision Racing1:09.761
1625Jean-Éric VergneFRADS Penske1:09.794
1713António Félix da CostaPORTAG Heuer Porsche Formula E Team1:09.832
1836André LottererGERAvalanche Andretti Formula E1:09.843
1917Norman NatoFRANissan Formula E Team1:10.107
2011Lucas di GrassiBRZMahindra Racing1:09.975
214Kelvin van der LindeZAFABT CUPRA Formula E Team1:10.221
2251Nico MuellerCHEABT CUPRA Formula E Team1:10.072
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