Evans quickest as Formula E trials new qualifying format

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Following criticism over its much-maligned four-group qualifying session format, where track evolution often created mixed-up grids, it came to the detriment of the drivers in the upper reaches of the championship standings having to contend with poor track conditions in the first group.

The new format features two groups of 11 drivers, each featuring one from each team, where the best four in each group goes through a knockout format – where two drivers duel over a single lap to progress to the next round – to ultimately determine the front row of the grid.

Formula E’s trial of the knockout sessions extended into pitting the full field into the duels stage, with each competitor drawn against their equivalent position, rather than simulate the full progression through to the final.

This meant that the bottom-placed drivers in the two groups – rookie duo Dan Ticktum and Antonio Giovinazzi – battled against each other first. Ticktum won by default, as Giovinazzi missed his call to take to the pitlane.

Nyck de Vries won out in the head-to-heads against team-mate Stoffel Vandoorne, with Alexander Sims going quicker than Oliver Turvey and Maximilian Guenther shading Sergio Sette Camara by 0.06s.

In the other duel trials, Jake Dennis beat new Andretti team-mate Oliver Askew, as Pascal Wehrlein nudged ahead of Porsche stablemate Andre Lotterer.

Antonio Felix da Costa then beat Sebastien Buemi to set the provisional fastest time of the session, while Oliver Rowland beat Nick Cassidy who aborted his lap.

Jean-Eric Vergne then beat Robin Frijns, who headed the standings in the standard testing times, before Mitch Evans eclipsed Jaguar team-mate Sam Bird and set a 1m26.426s to go quickest in the afternoon.

The Venturis then went head-to-head in the “final”, with Edoardo Mortara nosing ahead of Lucas di Grassi thanks to an excellent final sector.

In the group stage, which was altogether more representative of the real qualifying format, di Grassi headed the first of the two group sessions, logging a 1m27.933s on his second run to overhaul Bird by 0.046s.

Vandoorne kicked off proceedings in the qualifying simulation, but could only produce a leisurely 1m31.991s which was quickly overcome by the other cars in the first group, as Bird vaulted to the top with a 1m27.979s lap in the opening runs, beating di Grassi by a tenth as Vergne followed him in the order.

Jean-Eric Vergne, DS Techeetah, DS E-Tense FE21

Photo by: Carl Bingham / Motorsport Images

Vergne went top, but had his second lap deleted – giving di Grassi a clear run at top spot, although the Venturi driver’s session-topping lap was 0.002s faster than the two-time champion’s time.

However, Vergne’s first time was good enough to keep him in third, with Nick Cassidy venturing into fourth place with his opening bite at the cherry.

Mortara completed the Venturi clean sweep of the group sessions on his second run, posting a 1m27.774s to overhaul Evans’ benchmark after the opening runs.

Evans went to the top of Group B as Jaguar elected to put their cars out last for the first flurry of runs, but Frijns got close to his lap at the second attempt before Mortara cruised across the line to pick up top spot.

Attempting to mount a response, Evans went a tenth slower than his best on the second set of runs, but still claimed second overall from Frijns and new Mahindra driver Rowland.

Nissan opted for two consecutive timed laps during their group stage simulations, following a slow pair of opening…

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