Diriyah E-Prix – Alexander Sims secured pole position for BMW i Andretti in the inaugural round of the 2019/2020 ABB FIA Formula E Championship.
Continuing as he ended season 5, Sims put in a 1:14.563 on very clean lap to ensure that BMW came out as the top German manufacturer in qualifying. Super Pole saw BMW fight and win against three Mercedes-Benz powered cars and an Audi customer.
In their first weekend of the series Mercedes-Benz EQ will start second and third with Stoffel Vandoorne and a very impressive drive from rookie Nyck de Vries. ROKiT Venturi Racing’s Edoardo Mortara put his Mercedes powered machine onto the second row for a fourth place start later.
After topping group qualifying, and briefly leading the championship standings thanks to this season’s new group quali point, Sam Bird almost hit the wall near the start of his lap but put in the fastest sector three to take fifth on the grid.
Jerome d’Ambrosio will start in sixth position, his Mahindra denying seventh placed Andre Lotterer from bringing his TAG Heuer Porsche to Super Pole which would have made it an all German powered party.
Nissan e.dams’ Oliver Rowland had been looking strong on his lap with a very quick first sector but he hit the wall and lost time throughout the rest of the lap, he will start in eighth with the BMW i Andretti of Maximilian Guenther in ninth.
Finishing out the top 10 was NIO 333’s Oliver Turvey whose group three effort was enough to put him ahead of the defending champion, Jean-Eric Vergne in 11th.
The qualifying groups were based on last year’s championship standing so the top drivers had to contend with the very dusty track first, which none of them were too happy about, Sebastien Buemi wryly commenting that it looked like the first stage of Dakar.
The second DS Techeetah, driven by Antonio Felix da Costa, will start 21st after he was told to go for his quick lap straight away. It didn’t work out given he was also in the first qualifying group and in his interview after the session, da Costa was confused and frustrated by the decision.
The strangest incident of the session came when Panasonic Jaguar Racing’s James Calado and GEOX Dragon’s Nico Mueller both ended up identically tapping a wall and then locking up and going nose first into another in quick succession.
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