Robin Frijns set the fifth fastest time in the second free practice session on Saturday morning. Nyck de Vries was eighteenth. Neither of them were among the fastest pilots in the first practice session. Frijns was tenth, just ahead of De Vries (eleventh). Qualifying at the end of the morning began as usual with the group phase. The top four of Group A, which includes the odd-placed drivers in the championship, and B (even-placed) advance to the knockout phase, which sees duels for pole position. Frijns (fourth in the World Cup) and De Vries (eighth) had to compete in Group B.
In Group A, Edoardo Mortara was the fastest man with a minute to go. The Swiss had completed a lap in 1.06.900. But Stoffel Vandoorne, current World Cup leader thanks to the victory in Monaco, drove a tenth down in his Mercedes. Pascal Wehrlein (Porsche) ultimately won the battle. The German was by far the fastest with a time of 1:06.532. Behind Vandoorne and Mortara, Dragon/Penske’s Sergio Sette Camara took off with the fourth and final ticket to the duels. Jaguar driver Mitch Evans, number three in the championship, was the most conspicuous dropout in fifth place.
The Group B session ended in tears for the Dutch. No one made the top four. De Vries was sixth. Frijns did not get past eleventh place. A bitter pill, because never before this season has he been eliminated from the duels in qualifying. Antonio Felix da Costa was the fastest with 1.06.739. Andre Lotterer and Jean-Eric Vergne finished second and third. Sebastien Buemi was fourth, but his best time was taken away after the session because he got in the way of Frijns. With that, Vergne lost his starting ticket for the duels to Alexander Sims, who had to prepare head over heels for the knockout phase.
Sim’s Flavor Maker
Sims was therefore able to play in the first of four duels in which Wehrlein was already waiting for him. Contrary to expectations, the lucky Sims beat the Group A winner. With a 1.05.939, he was two tenths faster than Wehrlein. In the second game of the quarterfinals, Vandoorne was defeated by Vergne. Mortara was then 0.008 faster than Lotterer. The fourth and final ticket to the semifinals went to Da Costa, who trumped Sette Camara.
In the first semi-final, Sims and Vergne competed against each other. Sims took the win and completed one orbit in 1.06.050. But Vergne saved some time in the final section to end up with the exact same chrono. Since Sims was the first to time the game, the rules allowed him to continue. This much to the annoyance of Vergne, who had outperformed Sims in the quarterfinals and free practice. After the game, he called for the organization to look at the rules. The second semi-final brought a clear difference: Mortara recorded 1.05.914 and was 0.085 faster than Da Costa.
The thrill seemed perfect as the “lucky loser” Sims edged Mortara in the final game. In the last sector he had a tenth lead. But Mortara had a fantastic ending. In it he was three tenths down on Sims and thanks to 1.06.093 the Venturi Racing driver took pole. Behind Mortara and Sims, Da Costa and Vergne are third and fourth for the race. In the third row are Lotterer and Wehrlein. Vandoorne starts from P8, De Vries is 12th and Frijns is only 20th.
The Berlin E-Prix, the seventh race of the season, starts at 3 p.m. on Saturday afternoon. The second game of the weekend takes place on Sunday.