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Formula E

De Vries pips Mortara to pole for second race in Diriyah

Mercedes' Nyck de Vries has won the battle for pole position at the Diriyah E-Prix by just 0.005 seconds over Edoardo Mortara.

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To news overview © FIA Formula E

Nyck de Vries has picked up where he left off on Friday evening in Diriyah, as the Dutchman set the pace in the duel stages of qualifying for the second race to make it into the pole position shootout.

While de Vries wasn't quite able to match the pace he'd set through the quarter- and semi-finals, the Mercedes driver snatched pole by the smallest of margins – his effort of 1:07.1 just 0.005 seconds quicker than Venturi's Edoardo Mortara in the tense finale.

De Vries had a three-tenths advantage through the first sector, but Mortara closed the gap considerably over the remainder of their flying laps to be neck and neck with the championship leader as they crossed the line to decide the front row of the grid for the second race of the Diriyah E-Prix weekend.

Having won the first race on Friday after starting from third place, de Vries has earned an extra three points in the championship for claiming pole position for the second race.

Behind Mortara, Envision Racing's Robin Frijns will line up in third, ahead of the second Venturi as Lucas Di Grassi qualified fourth – the Brazilian driver being involved in a bizarre pit lane green light incident during the quarter-finals that is under investigation.

Porsche's Andre Lotterer will start in fifth place, ahead of the DS Techeetah pair of Jean-Eric Vergne and Antonio Felix da Costa – the latter under investigation for the same incident as di Grassi.

Race 1 front-row starter Jake Dennis will start the second encounter from eighth for Andretti, while the Venturi duo of Alexander Sims and Oliver Rowland rounded out the top 10.

Like on Friday, Oliver Askew won the battle of the rookie drivers as he will start the race from 15th on the grid. Dan Ticktum lines up in 18th, while Antonio Giovinazzi qualified 20th and, effectively, last, as Sam Bird and Nick Cassidy failed to properly take part in qualifying.

Picking out the top four from each group

The first part of qualifying, the group stages, sent out two sets of 11 drivers to set their fastest times. Unlike Friday's session, the division of the field was done according to the championship standings – as will be the case for every such session for the rest of the season.

This meant that the oddly-numbered drivers in the standings made up Group A, with the evenly-numbered drivers heading out in Group B.

Due to a practice crash in FP3, Cassidy was unable to take part in the Group A running, meaning just 10 drivers ventured out for the first part of qualifying.

In the first 12-minute session, de Vries left it until the last second to rise out of the elimination zone to set the fastest time of Group A with a 1:07.939, a tenth quicker than di Grassi.

The other two to progress from Group A were Rowland and Lotterer, with Dennis a surprise elimination after being so strong in the Friday event.

In the Group B session, Mortara went quickest with a 1:07.724, pipping Frijns by just 0.033 seconds at the head of the pack. Felix da Costa was third, with Vergne rounding out the top four.

Race 1 pole-sitter Vandoorne was a shock elimination as the Belgian failed to improve on his final run in the session, while Bird was also eliminated early on as he tapped the wall during a flying lap, with Jaguar withdrawing him to the pits to evaluate the damage.

After studying the back of the car, Jaguar told Bird to climb out as he had suffered damaged steering – his session was over and he will start the second race from the very back of the grid.

The top four from both groups progressed on into the duels stages, with the first quarter-final being Vergne against de Vries.

The quarter-final duels

With the power output increased to 250kW for the quarter-final showdowns, the first duel ended up being a very one-sided battle, as de Vries dominated Vergne. Setting a time of 1:06.8, de Vries was more than half a second quicker than Vergne and he progressed on into the semi-finals.

The second quarter-final ended up being somewhat confusing, as di Grassi failed to join the track at the same time as Felix da Costa. Both put in their laps back-to-back, with di Grassi winning the battle to progress.

The reason for the confusion quickly became apparent – replays showing that Felix da Costa appeared not to respond to a green light to head out on track, which ended up blocking di Grassi at the end of the pit lane. The incident is set to be investigated after qualifying.

"I went when I saw the green, as I was supposed to," Felix da Costa explained after being knocked out.

"[Others] are saying I went on Lucas' green light. I'm hearing a thousand different things. From where I was, I did nothing wrong. Either I'm blind or we as a team did something wrong."

Frijns won the third quarter-final, setting a time half a second quicker than Rowland, while Mortara defeated Lotterer in the last quarter-final as Lotterer had a slide halfway through his lap.

The semi-finals to decide the top two

The first of the two semi-finals was di Grassi versus de Vries, with de Vries winning out by four-tenths as he set another 1:06.8 to make it through to the final and guarantee himself a place on the front row.

Frijns and Mortara squared off in the second semi-final, which ended up being quite a close duel as Mortara came from behind to claw across the line and make it through into the final with a 1:06.9.

In an exciting final shootout for pole, de Vries got the better of Mortara by just five thousandths.

Diriyah E-Prix Qualifying 2 Results

Position Driver Team
1 De Vries Mercedes
2 Mortara Venturi
3 Frijns Envision Racing
4 Di Grassi Venturi
5 Lotterer Porsche
6 Vergne DS Techeetah
7 Da Costa DS Techeetah
8 Dennis Andretti
9 Sims Mahindra
10 Rowland Mahindra

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