Reigning champion Nyck de Vries clinched today’s pole position, setting one of the fastest laps of the weekend after showing impressive pace in every session of qualifying.
The Mercedes driver was the fastest of his group, which allowed him to go through the quarter finals, semi finals, and subsequently the final. During his semi final duel with Lucas di Grassi, the Dutchman set one of the fastest laps of the weekend so far, breaking the 1:06 barrier.
After clinching yesterday’s win, the reigning champion will hope to collect yet another victory today to start the season in the most successful way possible.
After his crash during today’s free practice session, Envision’s Nick Cassidy could not take part in qualifying. De Vries had a strong dominance since the early stages of his Group A run, and comfortably finished first of the group. Di Grassi, Oliver Rowland, and Andre Lotterer also made it to the quarter-finals.
Sam Bird had a qualifying stint to forget, as he hit the wall damaging his car. He pitted back his Jaguar but there was nothing the team could do in due time and the session was over for him. Edoardo Mortara topped the Group B standings with a lap time of 1:07.724 that put him in the quarter-finals, and he was followed by Robin Frijns, Antonio Felix da Costa, and Jean Eric Vergne.
De Vries won his duel against Vergne with a big time gap over the Frenchman. Controversy arose in the following duel, between di Grassi and da Costa, as the Portuguese went for his lap several seconds after the green light appeared, which blocked di Grassi in the pitlane, who was on the verge to do his run. Race Control allowed the Brazilian to complete his run and he made it to the Semi Final, while da Costa was being investigated.
The two other duels had Frijns against Rowland on one side, and Mortara versus Lotterer on the other. Both Frijns and Mortara made it through the next stage of the knockout qualifying.
Mercedes’ de Vries had unstoppable pace today, and it was during his semi-final duel against di Grassi that he broke the 1:06 barrier, setting one of the fastest times of the weekend. In the following duel, which had Frijns running against Mortara, the latter also set a lap time under 1:06 to become a finalist.
Undoubtedly, de Vries and Mortara were the fastest drivers of qualifying. They went head to head in their run to become today’s poleman, and it would be de Vries who would come out victorious by a very slim margin of 0.005 seconds on the Swiss.
Now the Dutchman has the challenge to repeat yesterday’s win to leave Diriyah with key points in the bag. He will be joined by qualifying runner-up Mortara on the front row, while Frijns will start from third position and di Grassi from fourth.
The starting top ten is completed by Lotterer, Vergne, da Costa, Jake Dennis, Alexander Sims, and Pascal Wehrlein, who finished eleventh overall, but due to Oliver Rowland’s penalty from yesterday’s race, he has been promoted to P10.