ABB Formula E – Ad Diriyah ePrix – Qualifying
It’s a big welcome for Saudi Arabia to the Formula E family as they play host to the opening round of season five.
New cars, new rules and a host of new drivers meant that everyone was extremely excited to get the season underway. However, that had to wait as heavy rain fell for several hours on the lead up to the event – and the track had far too much standing water causing both practice sessions to be cancelled. A makeshift 35-minute “free practice” was eventually held – however the majority of that session was red flagged after Edoardo Mortara hit the wall and damaged his front wing. As a result of the disruption to the schedule, the qualifying system was changed to get the event back on scheduled timing. Two groups of 11 drivers would take to the circuit with the best time from both sessions taking pole position. No super pole session today.
Each qualifying session would be 15 minutes long, with drivers allowed to do an out lap, a warm up lap, and then a full power 250 kW qualifying lap. Apparently that message didn’t reach Tom Dillmann as the Frenchman did multiple warm up laps – much to the bemusement of everyone else. He’s currently under investigation for not respecting the qualifying format.
In qualifying group A, Antonio Felix da Costa topped the session for BMW, 0.165 seconds ahead of Dillmann (who will probably be disqualified). Jose Maria Lopez came 3rd, but he is showing as having done four laps rather than three, so he may also be disqualified. Sebastien Buemi came 4th with Sam Bird 5th, and reigning champion Jean-Eric Vergne, 6th.
In qualifying group B, track improvement surprisingly didn’t seem to be a huge factor, as Stoffel Vandoorne was the fastest driver from this group – but only good enough for 5th place overall. Absolute chaos towards the end of the session as Felix Rosenqvist hit the wall at the final corner, which – due to the inexperience of the marshals – brought out both the yellow and red flags. Usually under a red flag the stewards will give another run to those who had their laps interrupted – but this time the directors have called an end to the session.
It’s going to take an awful long time to figure this out. The (very) provisional standings are as follows: da Costa (1st), Dillmann (2nd), Lopez (3rd), Buemi (4th), Vandoorne (5th), Bird (6th), Vergne (7th), Frijns (8th), d’Ambrosio (9th), Lotterer (10th), di Grassi (11th), Evans (12th), Rowland (13th), Turvey (14th), Paffett (15th), Mortara (16th), Sims (17th), Abt (18th), Massa (19th), Piquet (20th), Gunther (21st), Rosenqvist (22nd).
I would put good money on them not actually starting the race in that order though after stewards have decided on the numerous open issues.
Who do you think will win the season five title? Let us know in the comments below.