It was a chaotic start to the ABB FIA Formula E Championship Qualifying, at the opening round of Season 2018/19 in Ad Diriyah, Saudi Arabia.
It had been raining throughout the morning, which made the track very slippery, when it got mixed up with all the desert dust, blowing onto the circuit. FP1 was just cancelled straight away, and FP2 only gave them limited running. Edoardo Mortara had a crash, which cut even more off the time.
Race Control decided to change the qualifying format, so it was two groups with 11 cars each, and each group got 15 minutes to post a time – but still just one outlap, one 200kW lap and one 250kW lap.
That note obviously wasn’t observed by NIO Formula E Team, since they sent Tom Dillmann onto the circuit, doing a whole series of laps, where he gained more and more time for each lap.
BMW in Andretti Motorsport had understood the concept, and they grabbed Pole Position with Antonio Felix da Costa, ahead of Dillmann, who has to do a visit at the stewards, due to all the extra laps done. Jose Maria Lopez was P3, ahead of Sebastien Buemi, Stoffel Vandoorne and Sam Bird.
Vandoorne was the only person from Group B who came out on top of the field.
One reason for this was that GEOX Dragon driver Maximilian Günther hit the wall in Group B, and thus caused red flag on the track. Andre Lotterer missed his 250kW flying lap, that he would otherwise have completed.
The very final minute of the qualifying we had Mahindra Racing driver Felix Rosenqvist hitting the wall very hard, in the final turn of the lap. That confused the local track marshals, who switched a bit between Red Flag and Yellow Flag… Not something that made the drivers going full throttle through the final turn.
So all in all a chaotic qualifying, where there surely will be a long queue outside the stewards office before the race – not only with Dillmann, but also a whole bunch of angry drivers and team bosses from Qualifying Group B, who were unfairly slowed down by the fake Red Flag, which was down to a single flag marshal.
The race is scheduled to start at 13.00 CET.