Formula E: Buemi wins pole in Diriyah

Envision Racing’s Sebastien Buemi won the Julius Baer Pole Position for the CORE Diriyah E-Prix Round 2, nipping impressive rookie Jake Hughes (NEOM McLaren).

Hughes was told to push harder on his outlap to get the tires up to a more optimal temperature than his prior runs as the evening and cooler temperatures drew in – he’d earlier pipped third-placed Dan Ticktum (NIO 333) in the Semis and Mexico City polesitter Lucas di Grassi (Mahindra Racing) in the Quarters.

Hughes hung it all out on his hot lap and over the half-way point of the lap there was nothing between either driver. The McLaren racer pulled it out of the bag over the final sector to fend of a determined Buemi but the Swiss bit back in a big way – dragging back ahead with an absolutely perfect Sector 3.

Sebastien Buemi gets ready to qualify

That saw the Envision Racing driver equal the all-time poles tally on 15 with Jean-Eric Vergne (DS PENSKE) and was the 34-year-old’s first Julius Baer Pole Position since New York City at the Season 5 finale, where he also took his most recent race win, leading lights-to-flag. There was no hiding his emotion over Driver Radio.

Jaguar TCS Racing’s Sam Bird will line up fourth on the grid, after a trio of Jaguar-powered cars had led the way in Group B earlier in the session.

Rene Rast made it two McLarens in the top five with fifth, and Mitch Evans two factory Jaguars in the top six with sixth. The two Mahindras of di Grassi and Oliver Rowland filled out the remaining Duels slots and take to the fourth row of the grid.


Ticktum was 0.1 seconds quicker than Hughes in the Quarters. The McLaren driver left nothing on the table, and did clip the wall, in fact – pushing a bit too hard. He lost a quarter of-a-second but pulled it right back by the half way stage. Ticktum pulled an advantage but over the line, the NIO driver threw it fully sideways – somehow keeping it out of the wall but binning his chances of pole in the process. The impressive Hughes marched on.

The battle of the centurions in Bird and Buemi went the way of the former as the pair ran down the hill, with the walls looming either side. Heading down the back straight there was nothing between them but the Envision Racing driver took command to make the front row for the first time since Berlin, Season 7 – some 33 races ago.

Sebastien Buemi


Ticktum vs Rowland formed the battle of the Brits in the opening duel – the winner of the first Quarters duel in Mexico went on to take pole (Lucas di Grassi, Mahindra Racing). The NIO driver had the mark of his man across the lap, though, dispatching the Mahindra Racing driver to make the Semis. Rowland would settle for eighth, some half-a-second down on his compatriot.

Di Grassi faced rookie Hughes next, and it was the NEOM McLaren driver that stole the initiative over the first half of the lap. The Brazilian had been unbeaten in the Duels this season, sealing pole at the season-opener in Mexico City but Hughes managed to put a swift end to that record to progress. Di Grassi will line up seventh.

Evans squared off against Buemi in the third duel. The Jaguars had looked strong in the groups, where the Swiss pipped the Kiwi in Group B. It was the same story here with the Season 2 champion’s return to form seemingly continuing – his first ever Duels win. Evans will start sixth.

Bird did make it through in the sister Jaguar – beating Rene Rast by just over a tenth of-a-second. The NEOM McLaren driver will place fifth on the grid.


Group A kicked us off with the afternoon sun beginning to set. Maximilian Guenther got all locked up on the way into Turn 11 – overcooking it and slamming the barriers. That was the German’s session wiped out, with significant damage to his Maserati.

Disaster then followed for Guenther’s teammate Mortara – the Swiss-French-Italian losing the rear at Turn 16 in a big tank-slapper, crunching the rear of his car and removing him from the running, too.

As the fliers came in to close out Group A, Hughes flew top, di Grassi squeezed into fourth with Rowland and Ticktum sandwiched in-between – both Mahindras in the Duels! Early standings leader Jake Dennis (Avalanche Andretti), however, could only manage sixth – he’ll start well down the order with it all to do.

Bird’s last effort was two tenths of-a-second up the prior benchmark over Sector 1 alone, and another tenth halfway around the lap and was a huge 0.323s up by the end of his lap – the quickest of the day to that point. Buemi improved to edge closer and made it through in second, with the second Jaguar of Evans third – three for the British marque in the top three runners in Group B. Rast was the fourth man to make it to the Duels.

Pascal Wehrlein (TAG Heuer Porsche) managed fifth, with the DS PENSKE pair of Jean-Eric Vergne and reigning champion Stoffel Vandoorne only make the seventh and ninth rows of the grid – some six tenths back from Bird’s best.

Qualifying Results


Pos No. Driver Team Time Behind
1 16 Sébastien Buemi Virgin Racing 1m09.435s 0.000s
2 5 Jake Hughes McLaren 1m09.495s 0.060s
3 10 Sam Bird Jaguar Racing 1m09.462s 0.027s
4 33 Dan Ticktum NIO Formula E Team 1m10.246s 0.811s
5 58 René Rast McLaren 1m09.729s 0.294s
6 9 Mitch Evans Jaguar Racing 1m10.039s 0.604s
7 11 Lucas di Grassi Mahindra Racing 1m10.052s 0.617s
8 8 Oliver Rowland Mahindra Racing 1m10.114s 0.679s
9 37 Nick Cassidy Virgin Racing 1m10.829s 1.394s
10 94 Pascal Wehrlein Porsche Team 1m10.407s 0.972s
11 27 Jake Dennis Andretti Autosport 1m10.903s 1.468s
12 3 Sergio Sette Camara NIO Formula E Team 1m10.598s 1.163s
13 13 Antonio Felix da Costa Porsche Team 1m10.940s 1.505s
14 25 Jean-Eric Vergne Dragon Racing 1m10.602s 1.167s
15 17 Norman Nato Nissan e.Dams 1m10.985s 1.550s
16 36 Andre Lotterer Andretti Autosport 1m10.607s 1.172s
17 23 Sacha Fenestraz Nissan e.Dams 1m11.073s 1.638s
18 1 Stoffel Vandoorne Dragon Racing 1m10.636s 1.201s
19 48 Edoardo Mortara Maserati Racing 1m11.708s 2.273s
20 4 Kelvin van der Linde Team Abt 1m11.048s 1.613s
21 7 Maximilian Gunther Maserati Racing 1m32.982s 23.547s
22 51 Nico Müller Team Abt No Time No Time