Diriyah E-Prix: De Vries takes dominant pole for Mercedes

Mercedes driver Nyck de Vries continued his dominant run in the Diriyah E-Prix weekend, smashing the lap record in Friday's first qualifying to take pole position for the Formula E season opener.

Diriyah E-Prix: De Vries takes dominant pole for Mercedes
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Having set the fastest times in both practice sessions as well as the group qualifying, de Vries upped the ante in superpole, beating the Porsche of Pascal Wehrlein by six tenths of a second.

The 1m08.157s time set by the Dutch driver was the fastest of the weekend so far, and comfortably the quickest in the history of the Riyadh Street Circuit following a re-profiling of certain corners and a resurfacing of the track itself.

Audi's Rene Rast qualified a strong third at the start of his first full Formula E season, finishing just under half a tenth behind fellow German Wehrlein.

Edoardo Mortara was left on the backfoot after losing more than half a second in sector 1, but he recovered strongly in the final part of the lap to qualify a strong fourth for Mercedes customer Venturi, ahead of the lead Mahindra of Alex Lynn.

Mitch Evans put Jaguar back in superpole but a brush with the wall at the exit of Turn 17 left him down in sixth, over 1.5s off the pace of polesitter de Vries.

Porsche's Andre Lotterer was the fastest driver not to make it nto superpole and will start seventh, ahead of Sam Bird, who will line up eighth on his first race with Jaguar.

Maximilian Gunther was ninth for the BMW Andretti team, while Oliver Rowland was the best qualifier from Group 1, ending up 10th quickest ahead of Mahindra's Alexander Sims.

The two DS Techeetah cars qualified near the rear of the pack following a horrific qualifying session for both Antonio Felix da Costa and Jean-Eric Vergne. Already handicapped by being placed into Group 1, both drivers left it out until late before heading onto the track and were then caught out in traffic, with the sextet crossing the line virtually nose-to-nail.

Vergne lost further time by running wide at the final chicane and ended up 2s off the pace in 19th, just behind teammate da Costa. 

Fellow Formula E champions Lucas di Grassi (Audi) and Sebastien Buemi (Nissan e.dams) didn't fare much better in Group 1 either, qualifying 16th and 17th respectively.

Stoffel Vandoorne qualified 15th for Mercedes after starting in Group 1.

Both Nick Cassidy and Nico Muller originally made it to the superpole, but had their fastest laps deleted for improving under the yellow flag caused by the crashed Dragon Penske of Sergio Sette Camara.

That left Cassidy and Muller down in 20th and 22nd respectively, separated by the NIO 333 of Tom Blomqvist - who provisionally qualified seventh before losing his time for the same infringement. 

Robin Frijns failed to make it to qualifying after the Envision Virgin team had to change the battery on his car following his crash in FP2 this afternoon. He will start at the back of the grid, sharing the last row with Sette Camara.

Cla Driver Team Time Gap
1 Netherlands Nyck de Vries Mercedes-EQ Formula E Team 1'08.157  
2 Germany Pascal Wehrlein Germany Porsche Team 1'08.821 0.664
3 Germany René Rast Germany Team Abt 1'08.869 0.712
4 Switzerland Edoardo Mortara Monaco Venturi 1'09.317 1.160
5 United Kingdom Alex Lynn India Mahindra Racing 1'09.345 1.188
6 New Zealand Mitch Evans Jaguar Racing 1'09.706 1.549
7 Germany Andre Lotterer Germany Porsche Team 1'09.157 1.000
8 United Kingdom Sam Bird Jaguar Racing 1'09.265 1.108
9 Germany Maximilian Gunther United States Andretti Autosport 1'09.277 1.120
10 United Kingdom Oliver Rowland France DAMS 1'09.362 1.205
11 United Kingdom Alexander Sims India Mahindra Racing 1'09.559 1.402
12 France Norman Nato Monaco Venturi 1'09.628 1.471
13 United Kingdom Oliver Turvey United Kingdom NIO Formula E Team 1'09.631 1.474
14 United Kingdom Jake Dennis United States Andretti Autosport 1'09.723 1.566
15 Belgium Stoffel Vandoorne Mercedes-EQ Formula E Team 1'10.128 1.971
16 Brazil Lucas di Grassi Germany Team Abt 1'10.474 2.317
17 Switzerland Sébastien Buemi France DAMS 1'10.594 2.437
18 Portugal Antonio Felix da Costa China Techeetah 1'10.735 2.578
19 France Jean-Eric Vergne China Techeetah 1'10.804 2.647
20 New Zealand Nick Cassidy United Kingdom Virgin Racing 1'22.020 13.863
21 United Kingdom Tom Blomqvist United Kingdom NIO Formula E Team 1'23.165 15.008
22 Switzerland Nico Müller DRAGON / PENSKE AUTOSPORT 1'24.955 16.798
23 Brazil Sergio Sette Camara DRAGON / PENSKE AUTOSPORT 1'21.445 13.288
24 Netherlands Robin Frijns United Kingdom Virgin Racing    
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