QUALIFYING: Vergne equals all-time Formula E record with pole in Diriyah

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QUALIFYING: Vergne equals all-time Formula E record with pole in Diriyah

JEV steals pole for Round 2 in Diriyah, equalling the all-time Formula E record.

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DS PENSKE’s Jean-Eric Vergne sealed Julius Baer Pole Position and jumped up to the top of the Drivers' standings, as he will start tonight’s highly-anticipated 2024 Diriyah E-Prix Round 2 from first position.

Vergne went up against the Jaguar TCS Racing of Mitch Evans as both drivers and teams were fighting for their first pole at this epic circuit. Neither of these two drivers or teams have taken that first place spot here in Diriyah before, but it was the Season 4 and 5 Champion Vergne who clinched top spot by just 0.072 seconds at the line.

WATCH: How to watch or stream the Diriyah E-Prix double-header where you are

This marks the team’s first pole since São Paulo when JEV's teammate Stoffel Vandoorne took P1, and it was Vergne’s first since Jakarta in 2022. 

This is the 16th pole position of JEV’s Formula E career, which draws him level with Envision Racing’s Sebastien Buemi on all-time career poles in Formula E.

DIR R2 Quali duels

Semis

Jake Dennis went head-to-head with Mitch Evans during the Semis, and was trying to add to the four front row starts the team have had here in the past. Yet, it was Evans who managed to get himself into the finale by just 0.087s and will start on the front row in Diriyah for the second year in succession. 

The last Semi-Final was Jean-Eric Vergne versus ERT’s Sergio Sette Camara, but despite the Brazilian’s career-best qualifying being here in the past it was Vergne who stormed through into the Final by almost half a second. 

Quarters 

First up was our reigning champion and current standings leader, Pascal Wehrlein and Jake Dennis. These two had faced each other before, and finished first and second last year in both Diriyah races with Wehrlein taking the victories on both occasions. However, neither of these two started in the top four during those E-Prix. Dennis ultimately finished ahead, knocking out the Porsche of Wehrlein - who starts sixth.

Next was Jaguar versus Jaguar as Mitch Evans took on his teammate Nick Cassidy. Both Jaguar drivers have reached the Duels in both races so far this season, and have met one another in the Duels for the fourth time in the last five races. Cassidy has never started higher than sixth here in Diriyah, and was knocked out by Evans during the Quarters and will start seventh. 

Sergio Sette Camara took on Maserati MSG Racing’s Maximilian Guenther for the next round. This is a circuit that Sette Camara has enjoyed in the past, as his career-best qualifying performance came here in 2021 when he started second on the grid for DRAGON/PENSKE AUTOSPORT. The Brazilian only reached the Duels stages twice last season - in Berlin and Monaco - and has only won a single knockout since this format was adopted at the start of 2022. Nevertheless, he put his foot to the floor to beat Guenther by 0.397s, leaving the German eighth.

Finally it was the fastest man in FP2, Norman Nato, who went up against Vergne. Neither of these drivers reached the Duels in Mexico, but it was Vergne who stormed through to the Semis. The two-time Formula E champion has never started in the top four in Diriyah despite taking part in all nine races that have been held here, but that could change! Nato starts fifth.

Group A

All eyes were on qualifying as the field fought for grid position on the sandy and slippery circuit to make their way through to the all-important Duels. This first collection of 11 drivers – Group A – was packed with lots of familiar favourites. However, it was Cassidy, Dennis, Wehrlein and Evans that made it through as the fastest four. 

From that group, Nick Cassidy went quickest with a 1m12.629s which was 0.160s faster than the next man Dennis. The two Jaguar drivers did a solid job to get through despite not showing the best pace so far this weekend, with the other duo joining them both being powered by the Porsche powertrains. 

Last year’s polesitter Jake Hughes looked an early favourite, as he pushed his NEOM McLaren to the limits and even clipped a wall to get himself half a second clear of the field with just moments left to go. However, a second attempt at a fast lap led to Hughes making a mistake and not doing enough to improve on his time to finish fifth in the group.

Group B

The next group took to the track shortly after, with plenty of big names trying to make it through to the Duels. With track evolution being so fast, everyone tried to wait until the last possible moments to get a lap in which led to a huge train of drivers all nose to tail together. 

In the end, it was Vergne who went to the top when the chequered flag fell with a 1m12.856s. Joining him in the Semis was Sette Camara who got ERT’s first Duels appearance of the year when he finished second in the session, Guenther in third and Nato in fourth. 

McLaren’s Sam Bird failed to get into the top four, despite having won here twice in the past. Vergne’s teammate Stoffel Vandoorne also ended the session in sixth with last year’s pole position holder Sebastien Buemi down in a disappointing seventh. 

However, the biggest shock of the Group Stages was Antonio Felix da Costa as he finished Group B in ninth. The Season 6 champion hasn’t looked completely comfortable in his Porsche so far this weekend, so will hope he can make up some good positions when it’s race time. His teammate Wehrlein won both events here last year and made it through to the Duels.

SCHEDULE: Where, when and how to watch or stream the 2024 Diriyah E-Prix Rounds 2 & 3

Lights out on Round 2 comes next, at 20:00 local/17:00 UTC.

Free Practice 3 follows on Saturday morning at 12:55 local with qualifying ahead of Round 3 set to get underway at 15:20. Round 3 itself then follows at 20:00 local/17:00 UTC on 27 January.

View the full schedule in your time zone and check the broadcaster listings or tap the Ways to Watch button above to find out where to watch all the racing action where you live.

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