A stop/start first FIA Formula E Championship qualifying of 2018/19 went to BMW Andretti’s Antonio Felix da Costa from NIO’s Tom Dillmann and Geox Dragon’s Jose Maria Lopez.
Rain in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia forced alteration in the qualifying format with two sessions taking place instead of four after both FP1 and FP2 were cancelled and a lone practice session was undertaken just ahead of qualifying.
Group 1 and Group 3 were mingled together and were the first to go with 11 drivers. However, there was confusion when NIO’s Dillmann was sent to do more laps in the revised 15-minute session before his 250kw lap in the Gen2 car.
Dillmann (1m17.893s) did finish second but is expected to be penalised as he is under investigation. The Frenchman led the way for most part until BMW Andretti’s da Costa displaced him from the top with a 1m17.728s.
Geox Dragon’s Lopez (1m18.113s) slotted in third but seemingly did more laps like Dillmann which means he could be penalised as well, with Nissan e.Dams’ Sebastien Buemi (1m18.269s) ending up fourth after a late 250kw lap.
Envision Virgin’s Sam Bird (1m18.511s) was fifth ahead of DS Techeetah’s Jean-Eric Vergne (1m18.571s) with the second Envision Virgin car of Robin Frijns (1m19.036s) just missing the Top 6 to be seventh.
Mahindra Racing’s new hiring Jerome D’Ambrosio (1m19.077s) was eighth with Audi’s Lucas di Grassi (1m19.527s) and Daniel Abt (1m20.385s) only ninth and 11th with Venturi’s Edoardo Mortara (1m20.330s) in 10th.
The second part in qualifying was red-flagged after Geox Dragon’s Maximilian Gunther had a small excursion with the wall and came to a halt. Before his hit, HWA Racelab’s Stoffel Vandoorne had his 250kw lap to slot in fifth.
In his first outing since Formula 1’s Abu Dhabi race, Vandoorne did a good 1m18.490s which bumped Vergne from the Top 6. Once the session re-started, the rest of the drivers started their 250kw run but couldn’t show huge improvements.
A late crash for Mahindra Racing’s substitute Felix Rosenqvist brought out another red flag as the other drivers completed their quick laps but none making it big. Only DS Techeetah’s Andre Lotterer (1m19.317s) had a better run to be 10th.
Jaguar Racing’s Mitch Evans (1m19.712s) also did well but was only 12th with Nissan e.Dams’ Oliver Rowland (1m19.755s) 13th, followed by NIO’s Oliver Turvey (1m19.912s) and HWA Racelab’s Gary Paffett (1m19.929s).
BMW Andretti’s Alexander Sims (1m20.367s) had a disappointing run to be only 17th especially with his teammate da Costa on pole. Venturi’s Felipe Massa (1m20.407s) slotted in 19th ahead of Jaguar’s Nelson Piquet Jr (1m21.489s) from Gunther and Rosenqvist.
Provisional result: Da Costa, Dillmann, Lopez, Buemi, Vandoorne, Bird, Vergne, Frijns, D’Ambrosio, Lotterer, Di Grassi, Evans, Rowland, Turvey, Paffett, Mortara, Sims, Abt, Massa, Piquet, Gunther and Rosenqvist.