Stoffel Vandoorne took Pole Position ahead of the inaugural race in Diriyah. The Mercedes driver beat Jake Dennis in the final head to head
With the introduction of the new knockout qualifying format, the Belgian driver, who always mastered qualifying, had a strong performance that allowed him to reach and ultimately win the final stage against Andretti’s Dennis.
After two 11-minute group sessions, the top four drivers of each one, went head to head in the knockout stages, until only one remained to become today’s poleman.
There were no major events in Group A, but the lead was challenged between Formula E veterans Lucas di Grassi, Sam Bird, and Robin Frijns. Oliver Rowland, who dominated the free practice sessions, did not.
As their outing came to an end, Frijns finished on top of the standings, making it to Quarter Finals along with Bird, Stoffel Vandoorne, and Rowland.
Nyck de Vries climbed up to the top of the standings early into his stint and remained there for the rest of the Group B outing, making it to the Quarter Finals. The run got cut short as Edoardo Mortara crashed into the wall in the final minutes. The other three drivers who earned their spot in the next round were Nick Cassidy, Jake Dennis, and Andre Lotterer.
The introduction of the new qualifying format had all expectations on the quarter-finals. And they did not disappoint. All four duels had no incidents, but a good dose of tight racing scenes, where the gap between the duelling drivers was very close. The first one, between Frijns and Lotterer, finished with the Belgian making it to the next round.
Dennis and Bird faced each other in the second QF, and the Andretti driver, who excelled in qualifying last season, proved once again his skills in this new season. Vandoorne won his duel against Cassidy in the third QF.
All eyes were on the Rowland versus de Vries QF, as it featured the reigning champion against the driver who had shown an impressive pace in the opening free practice sessions. The Brit almost put his car in the wall, which made him lose time, and the Dutchman took that advantage to qualify to the semi-finals.
The semi-finals had close racing scenes as well, while there were no incidents to condition or cut short the drivers’ stints. Lotterer faced Dennis in the first semi-final. The Andretti driver won the duel to make it to the final.
The second semi-final proved to be a challenging one for Mercedes, as their drivers were facing each other. Vandoorne came out victorious from his duel with de Vries.
Vandoorne and Dennis are two drivers who have had strong performances in qualifying. The final was a promising one, and the close action between the Brit and the Belgian was clear proof as to why they had made it to the last round of qualifying.
Dennis ultimately lost time after going wide in Turn 14, which allowed Vandoorne to take that advantage and clinch the very first pole position of the season.
Vandoorne will therefore start from P1, with Dennis also starting on the front row. Semi-final runner-ups de Vries and Lotterer have qualified third and fourth respectively, while from the drivers who lost their quarter-final duels, Bird will start from the fifth position, followed by Cassidy, Frijns, and Rowland.
The starting top ten has been completed by Lucas di Grassi and Maximilian Guenther, as both drivers finished fifth in their respective groups.