Ad Diriyah E-Prix – Antonio Felix da Costa claimed his maiden Formula E pole in a damp qualifying for BMW i Andretti.
Due to the multitude of delays for heavy rain, the usual group qualifying format was altered to make two groups of 11 drivers in 15-minute sessions.
Da Costa set a 1:17.728 on his 250kW full power lap, going 0.165s quicker than NIO’s Tom Dillmann to claim his first FE pole on BMW’s first race with the Andretti squad.
Dillmann is currently under investigation as his NIO team believed that with the new format drivers were allowed to complete as many laps as they wanted at 200kW before going to full power. He was the only driver to do this (as team-mate Oliver Turvey was in the second session).
That would promote GEOX Dragon’s Jose Maria Lopez to the front row of the grid ahead of Sebastien Buemi’s Nissan e.dams and the HWA Racelab of Stoffel Vandoorne, qualifying inside the top five on his and the team’s FE debut.
Sam Bird was sixth fastest for Envision Virgin Racing ahead of reigning FE champion Jean-Eric Vergne and the second Virgin of Robin Frijns. Jerome d’Ambrosio put his Mahindra ninth.
Audi struggled for pace with 2016/17 champion Lucas di Grassi in 11th and Daniel Abt in 18th.
Reigning DTM champion Gary Paffett and his fellow FE rookie Oliver Rowland elected to go out early in the second session, but Paffett had a scruffy lap to go 15th while Rowland hit the barrier with his right-rear wheel after a mistake at Turn 1, limiting him to 13th.
A red flag was brought out in the second session for rookie Max Gunther who pulled his Dragon over with a broken front wing. Once the session resumed Andre Lotterer put his Techeetah inside the top 10 but Felix Rosenqvist stopped anybody else setting competitive times when he locked up at the final corner of his hot lap and hit the barriers.
Yellow flags were waved as was, incorrectly, a red which meant the drivers behind him on track could not competitively complete their laps.
That means that the second BMW of Alexander Sims was just 17th, with Felipe Massa and Nelson Piquet 19th and 20th respectively.