Diriyah E-Prix 2 – Jake Hughes shone in qualifying once again, defeating Mitch Evans in the final to take his and McLaren’s first Formula E pole.
The Envisions of Nick Cassidy and Sebastien Buemi were the first to head out when the lights went green for the start of their section of qualifying. Cassidy opened the timing with a 1:21.011 warm up lap, which turned out to be the fastest of the first timed laps but once everyone got up to speed on their second go it was Jake Hughes on top with a 1:10.029, with the other Jake, Andretti’s Jake Dennis, a couple of tenths further back in P2.
Qualifying Results – 2023 Diriyah E-Prix 2
Halfway through the session all cars were back in the pits for tyre changes, possibly most needed for Sam Bird who’d had a big lock up, and with 4 minutes to go it was Hughes, Stoffel Vandoorne, Cassidy and Dennis in the progression positions.
In the final few minutes Dan Ticktum was the first into the 1:09s with a 1:09.698, Antonio Felix da Costa quickly joined him in the sub-seventy second category. Bird was the first to take the chequered flag and he went right to the top but unfortunately for the Jaguar racer the track was just getting better and he was eclipsed by Hughes, Buemi, Vandoorne and Dennis, and will not progress to the duels.
Yesterday’s race winner, Pascal Wehrlein, was the first to head out in the second group and set a 1:13.298, most of the warm up laps being set at a quicker pace than the earlier group. Once the representative times started being set it was Mitch Evans in P1 with a 1:09.557, a tenth and a half quicker than Rene Rast.
The track didn’t quite get fully empty with the pit stops, Nissan’s Sacha Fenestraz heading back out just as the last driver, Jean-Eric Vergne, headed back to his garage. At that stage Evans, Wehrlein, Rast and Vergne were in the duel spots.
Fenstraz made it to P3 with his first lap back out but got shuffled back in the final flurry of laps. Rast was the first to take the flag but Evans, who was one of the last on track, retook the place to put one Jaguar into the duels. Wehrlein and Edoardo Mortara will join them, Maserati having a much smoother time of it in qualifying today compared to both drivers taking damage in yesterday’s session.
Quarter finals – Vandoorne vs Buemi, Dennis vs Hughes, Wehrlein vs Rast, Mortara vs Evans
QF1 – There was nothing in it over the first sector, Vandoorne just 0.004 seconds quicker, but Buemi pulled a bit of a gap in sector two and then extending that to the flag, the Envision racer the first into the 1:08s today.
QF2 – Battle of the Jakes, or apparently dubbed the Great British Jake-off, the McLaren was almost three tenths quicker at the start and while the Andretti matched in the second part it wasn’t enough for the red-clad Jake to defeat the papaya-clad one.
QF3 – Another very close battle, the first two sectors were identical to one decimal point but Rast had the slight advantage and just extended that in the final part of the lap to continue to the semis.
QF4 – While it was advantage Evans in the opening third of the lap, Mortara reeled him back in some during the middle section however there was no stopping the Kiwi at the end and it’ll be the Jaguar with at least one more duel on his schedule today.
Semi finals – Buemi vs Hughes, Rast vs Evans
SF1 Hughes was three tenths faster than yesterday’s pole sitter in the opening part of the lap and while Buemi was marginally faster through the remainder of the lap it wasn’t enough to combat the opening advantage so the McLaren will head to the final.
SF2 – There was an almost two tenths advantage to Evans at the start and while the gap closed slightly in the following sector, an all-McLaren final wasn’t to be and so it will be Evans looking to take his and Jaguar’s first pole since Monaco last year.
Final – Hughes vs Evans
The pole decider started as expected, with barely anything in it. Hughes was a tenth up in the opening sector and pulled it out to almost a tenth and a half in the middle of the lap however heading into the final corner there was only 0.007 seconds in it and the Brit aced the final turn to pull the gap back out and secure his first pole with a time almost identical to his semi final one.
After qualifying P3 for his first E-Prix, P2 yesterday for his second, Hughes will start his third ever race from the best position. Evans will join him on the front row while Rast will start directly behind his teammate in P3, with Buemi beside him.
Yesterday’s 1-2, Wehrlein and Dennis will share row three and given they made it to the podium from P9 and P11 yesterday, all eyes will be on the Porsche powered cars. Mortara and Vandoorne will be P7 and P8 while Hughes taking pole means that his original group, Group A, will fill in the remaining odd numbered grid slots which means Bird will take P9 ahead of Guenther.