Da Costa grabs maiden FE pole in shortened Ad Diriyah qualifying
Antonio Felix da Costa proved that his BMW i Andretti Motorsport team’s pre-season pace was no fluke by securing his first-ever Formula E pole position in a mixed up qualifying session in Ad Diriyah, Saudi Arabia.
After both free practice sessions were cancelled due to torrential rain, qualifying was first delayed and then cut to a shorter, two-group session with no superpole in order to avoid further disruptions to the race day schedule.
Da Costa, out first in group one, was one of only two drivers to set a time under 1m 18s, but NIO’s Tom Dillmann who qualified in second appears likely to lose his time due after competing too many laps in qualifying.
Jose Maria Lopez was a surprise name on the second row of the grid as he qualified his Dragon Racing car in third ahead of Nissan e.dams Sebastien Buemi.
Formula E debutant Stoffel Vandoorne was only of only three drivers in the second group to break into the top 10 as he qualified his HWA Racelab car in fifth, ahead of Virgin Racing’s Sam Bird.
Reigning champion Jean-Eric Vergne complained of car trouble as he qualified a disappointing seventh for the newly named DS Techeetah team, one place ahead of Formula E returnee Robin Frijns who was making his debut with the Virgin team.
Jerome d’Ambrosio was disappointed with ninth place on his debut for Mahindra, as was Andre Lotterer who put in a messy lap to qualify 10th in the second Techeetah.
It was a disastrous day for reigning teams champion Audi, who qualified 11th and 18th with Lucas di Grassi and Daniel Abt respectively. Di Grassi, in particular, was unhappy with the performance of his car and described it as “undriveable” in the first part of qualifying.
Jaguar will also be disappointed by its start to the season, with 12th for Mitch Evans and a lowly 20th for season one champion Nelson Piquet.
Championship debutant Felipe Massa will start in 19th for Venturi after slowing for a red flag mistakenly shown for the stricken Felix Rosenqvist, who hit the wall in the closing stages in his Mahindra.
Brits Oliver Rowland, Gary Paffett and Alexander Sims endured a difficult session and will start the race in 13th, 15th and 17th respectively.
Image Credit: Formula E