Stoffel Vandoorne was quickest in the only practice session prior to qualifying for the opening round of the 2018/19 Championship in a morning that left most teams looking skyward.

 

 

 

Out of the three days that is rains in Ad Diriyah, Formula E happened to choose one with a torrential downpour hitting the region just before the start of the first practice session.

 

Given the installation of barriers on a temporary street circuit, lack of drainage would always be an issue, and unsurprisingly sections of standing water delayed the start of practice. FP1 would ultimately be cancelled in favour of a combined practice session at 8:35am.

 

The track at Ad Diriyah is slightly unconventional as Formula E circuits go, with two sectors and a slalom-like set of corners that undulate as much as they offer lateral load. This in effect puts more focus on getting qualifying right and more opportunities for slipstreaming in the race.

 

After suggestions from drivers that a combined practice/qualifying session determine the grid, the field was finally let out on track behind the safety car at 10am local time.

 

 

Teams were under enormous pressure to get their figures right in the allotted time trying to understand what energy they need for the race, with Audi team principal Allan McNish admitting it would “be a hunch & a feel”.

Out front, Felix Rosenqvist had the measure of everyone through sector one, whilst Sam Bird ruled the second and third.

 

Edoardo Mortara was the first into the barriers at turn one after appearing to experience brake-by-wire issues prior on the run to turn eighteen. Mortara’s Venturi appeared to have minor damage to the front end.

 

Once track activity resumed, Mitch Evans was first to make his move by slotting his Panasonic Jaguar into top spot, but was immediately usurped by Jean-Eric Vergne and Sebastien Buemi for DS Techeetah and Nissan e.Dams respectively.

 

Bird however had one more roll of the dice with one minute left on the clock and looked to head the field going into qualifying but for a late gasp effort from Stoffel Vandoorne to ut the WHA at the top of the timesheets.

 

Due to the issues earlier in the day, the FIA revealed Qualifying will be broken into two groups, rather than four groups of up to six cars as originally intended.