Sims on pole again as day two proves tougher for Mercedes and Porsche

Formula E

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Alexander Sims reprised his pace-setting performance from qualifying on Saturday and will line up on pole position for the second Formula E race at Diriyah later today.

The BMW Andretti driver, who was unable to convert pole position to victory yesterday, will start from the front again despite a four-wheel slide during his Super Pole lap

Group qualifying today took place on a track drivers were saying was ‘totally different’ from the previous race here, the massive build up of sand on the desert track lifted by a day of both Formula E and I-Pace running.

Qualifying 1

After yesterday’s group one drivers, who were selected by last year’s championship order, were disgruntled to find themselves at a seriously disadvantage due to the track conditions, a clear racing line had emerged for the second qualifying session and the track proved more consistent.

Sam Bird topped the front-running group as he did yesterday, beating Andre Lotterer by a tenth-and-a-half. The Mercedes drivers, who had performed outstandingly on their debut from a lower group, discovered the hazards of going first as Stoffel Vandoorne managed a fairly distant third and Nyck De Vries lost a second with a slide in the final sector.

Overall times were so far improved that De Vries’ time – which he described as “really poor” – would have beaten yesterday’s Super Pole time.

1Sam BirdVirgin1’12.007
2Andre LottererPorsche1’12.153
3Stoffel VandoorneMercedes1’12.422
4Robin FrijnsVirgin1’12.454
5Oliver RowlandNissan EDams1’12.660
6Nyck de VriesMercedes1’14.082

Qualifying 2

Times fell even further in the next group. Friday’s pole sitter Sims and Mitch Evans both dipped below 1:12 to times closer to those seen in practice.

However, any deviation from the cleaned racing line did still prove risky – mistakes for Felipe Massa and Pascal Wehrlein saw their times compromised, while Jerome D’Ambrosio went fastest of the group despite sliding into the wall and hitting his rear left wheel.

1Jerome D’AmbrosioMahindra1’11.835
2Alexander SimsBMW Andretti1’11.858
3Mitch EvansJaguar1’11.972
4Edordo MortaraVenturi1’12.008
5Pascal WehrleinMahindra1’12.635
6Felipe MassaVenturi1’12.656

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Qualifying 3

Group three didn’t show as much improvement, despite being made up of a majority of front-running cars. Antonio Felix da Costa, who had topped the single free practice session this morning, was able to put in the fastest time, a massive four-tenths taken out of D’Ambrosio’s lap.

Lucas Di Grassi also set a quick enough time to reach the Super Pole contest.

1Antonio Felix da CostaDS Techeetah1’11.418
2Lucas di GrassiAudi Abt1’11.939
3Maximilian GuentherBMW Andretti1’12.051
4Oliver TurveyNIO1’12.671
5Neel JaniPorsche1’12.732
6James CaladoJaguar1’13.430

Qualifying 4

Reigning champion Jean-Eric Vergne is having a tough weekend. His car broke down during the race yesterday with a critical failure that essentially froze his steering column. His team had to work past the curfew to identify and repair it. He then crashed heavily during third practice, registering an impact severe enough that both he and his battery were sent for further examination and he had no further running ion the session.

Given that, putting together a lap that put him 11th was considered a good effort. Sebastien Buemi, who also retired from yesterday’s race with a technical problem, was able to put in a much better lap to take a Super Pole place.

The situation for Dragon, whose race yesterday was compromised by Nico Mueller not being able to start and Brendon Hartley ending up with technical issues that led to cascading penalties, seemed in dire straits during their session. Both drivers struggled to control the car and nearly two seconds back from the front times.

1Sebastien BuemiNissan EDams1’11.774
2Jean-Eric VergneDS Techeetah1’12.327
3Daniel AbtAudi Abt1’12.642
4Brendon HartleyDragon1’13.182
5Ma QinghuaNIO1’12.205
6Nico MuellerDragon1’13.703

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Super Pole

Evans, the first driver out, was able to put in a convincing but not earth-shattering lap. A stronger effort followed from Di Grassi but Sims was instantly several tenths up on both, carving more than four tenths off as he reached sector three.

This was just as well, for carrying so much pace sent Sims spectacularly sideways, but he demonstrated remarkable car control to sustain his momentum down the straight. His finishing time, faster than all but Da Costa in groups, looked at least set for a probable front row.

Buemi was able to get close but the session descended into difficulties for both D’Ambrosio and Da Costa. D’Ambrosio’s damaged car, from the hit at the end of his group run, was uncooperative and Da Costa hit dust twice, sliding wide and completing a scrappy lap that would have had him dead last in groups. That confirmed a second pole in Diriyah for Sims, and his third in a row since the end of last year.

1Alexander SimsBMW Andretti1’11.476
2Sebastien BuemiNissan EDams1’11.696
3Lucas di GrassiAudi1’11.784
4Mitch EvansJaguar1’11.929
5Jerome D’AmbrosioMahindra1’12.093
6Antonio Felix da CostaDS Techeetah1’14.134

Vergne was subsequently penalised for a mandated battery change, caused by his crash earlier in the day. He was given a 20-place grid drop, which as he could not fulfil also converts into a 10-second time penalty.

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Author information

Hazel Southwell
Hazel is a motorsport and automotive journalist with a particular interest in hybrid systems, electrification, batteries and new fuel technologies....

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4 comments on “Sims on pole again as day two proves tougher for Mercedes and Porsche”

  1. Would there be a correction to Sim’s time in Q2 and Da Costa’s in Superpole?

  2. Much closer today between groups compared to yesterday.

  3. Maybe I’ve misunderstood the format, but what happened to Sam Bird, he seems to have have disappeared after topping Q1?

    1. I think it’s just that there were 6 drivers who had a faster time, so in the end no one from the first group got into the run for the superpole @frasier

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