Diriyah E-Prix 1 – In a very close-fought duel, Jean-Eric Vergne defeated Mitch Evans to take top spot for this evening’s race in Diriyah.
McLaren’s Jake Hughes was the first to venture out onto the track as the twelve minutes of Group A qualifying got underway. Mitch Evans was the last to leave the pits, the Jaguar driver emerging just as Hughes passed the pit exit at the start of his first timed lap.
Hughes opened the time sheets with a not very representative 1:23.328, however at the halfway point of the group, times had come back down to about where they were in FP2 and it was Pascal Wehrlein on top as the only one below a 1:14 so far with a 1:13.774, ahead of Jake Dennis and the Jaguars of Nick Cassidy and Mitch Evans.
The track quietened down then with cars heading into their garages for tyre changes, Hughes headed back out just as the ABT cars were making their way around to the pits. The McLaren driver jumped to the top of the times, half a second up on Wehrlein with a 1:13.207.
Times continued to improve as the session came to an end and it was Cassidy who managed to seize P1 with a 1:12.619 ahead of Dennis, Wehrlein and Evans, the top three all in the 1:12s though Evans just missed that with a 1:13.006.
Sacha Fenestraz led the Group B charge onto the track and started things off for them with a 1:19.026. At the halfway point, when everyone had set a representative time it was Maximilian Guenther who sat in prime position with a 1:13.120 ahead of Sam Bird, Stoffel Vandoorne and Sebastien Buemi, all of those in the provisional progression spots within a tenth of each other.
As the cars retreated to the pits, Sergio Sette Camara put in an extra fast lap to jump to the top of the times with a 1:13.005 for ERT, he pitted as Bird and Fenestraz reemerged.
The times all ended up being a bit slower than in the first group but it was much closer at the top with the duel progressers all being within 0.077 seconds. Jean-Eric Vergne was the quickest with a 1:12.856 ahead of Sette Camara, Guenther and Norman Nato, who was fastest in FP2.
Quarter-finals – Wehrlein vs Dennis, Evans vs Cassidy, Guenther vs Sette Camara, Nato vs Vergne
QF1: Dennis had a tenth and a half advantage over the opening sector and extended that minutely over the middle portion of the track. Wehrlein was the better in the final sector though he wasn’t able to overcome the gap Dennis had pulled. The Porsche driver ended 0.083 seconds off.
QF2: Evans was half a second up on his teammate in the first third of the laps and just continued to stretch that advantage, like the first duel though Cassidy was the quicker in the final portion but again it wasn’t enough to undo the early gap and so Evans will progress.
QF3: It was close between Guenther and Sette Camara, less than a tenth separation the two over sector 1 but it was the ERT driver with the slight advantage, there were almost identical in sector two thanks to a bit of a slide from the Brazilian but that didn’t knock him and he took the win by four tenths.
QF4: As with QF3, there was nothing in it over sector 1, Vergne with the slightest advantage over Nato. The Penske driver grew that over the remainder of the lap to end with three tenths between the two, though it was the fastest of the duels.
Semi-finals – Dennis vs Evans, Sette Camara vs Vergne
SF1: Evans had just less than half a tenth of an advantage in the opening third of the lap and extended that to two tenths in the middle of the lap, while Dennis was the quicker at the end, the Jaguar driver had done enough to hold on with just less than a tenth over the reigning champion. It was a very pacy duel with the two drivers setting the best laps of the day so far, a 1:11.992 vs 1:12.079.
SF2: It initially looked very close in sector 1 but Vergne pulled out over a tenth to his rival, while Sette Camara closed back in during the middle of the lap, it was a very strong end to the lap by Vergne, as it was in his quarter-final, so it ended with almost half a second separating the two.
Final – Vergne vs Evans
It was Vergne who had the better start to his lap, but only by 0.012 seconds, Evans flipped that in sector two to 0.04 seconds to the Jaguar driver but Vergne is not a driver to bet against when it comes to poles and it ended with 0.072 seconds between the two with the Penske driver taking the top spot.
Dennis will start from P3 alongside Sette Camara while Nato and Wehrlein will share row three. Cassidy will start P7 ahead of Guenther while, the non-duel qualifiers in Group B will take the remaining odd numbered spots which means Bird will start P9 ahead of his teammate, Hughes.