Less than three weeks after completing his final Formula 1 Grand Prix for Toro Rosso, Jean-Eric Vergne will start his first Formula E ePrix from pole position, with the Andretti Autosport driver topping this morning’s qualifying session in Punta del Este, Uruguay.
Having been drawn in the first group of five cars in the qualifying group lottery, Vergne’s 1:15.408 (which included a brush with the wall) not only topped his group but also stood the test of the three groups that followed – an impressive task given the first qualifying group has been seen as cleaning the track for later groups at the two previous ePrix. 0.7 seconds behind Vergne in group one was Jarno Trulli, ahead of Nick Heidfeld, Daniel Abt and Karun Chandhok.
Group two – consisting of Sebastien Buemi, Nicolas Prost, Salvador Duran, Antonio Garcia and Matthew Brabham (who was called back in to the Andretti Autosport line-up in place of the unwell Franck Montagny) – was quickly reduced to four cars, as Brabham contacted the barriers before being able to set a time, ending his qualifying in the process. The session became a battle between the eDAMS.Renault team mates for fastest time in the group, with Prost finishing ahead of Buemi, the pair slotting into provisional second and third on the grid respectively.
Sam Bird, Bruno Senna, Jerome d’Ambrosio, Antonio Felix da Costa and Nelson Piquet Jr took to the track in group three, with both d’Ambrosio and Bird failing to set a lap time as a result of hitting the walls – in Bird’s case, nosing into the fence at turn 17 led to a red flag as his incident was cleaned up. The biggest change to the overall time sheets came from Piquet Jr, with the China Racing driver jumping ahead of Prost into second with a 1:15.530 lap.
The final group of Stephane Sarrazin, Lucas di Grassi Jaime Alguersuari, Oriol Servia and Michela Cerruti failed to challenge the top of the time sheets, with the highlights being Alguersuari starting from fifth and championship leader di Grassi to start from position six.
Earlier, teams and drivers had battled low grip in the morning’s two free practice sessions. In Practice 1, locked brakes led to a spin at turn 1 for Cerruti, who damaged her nose cone on the barriers in the process and brought out a brief red flag. Prost ended the session on top with a 1:16.696 lap time, just under 0.2 seconds ahead of Abt and d’Ambrosio.
Practice 2 was punctuated by two red flag periods, the first early in the session to retrieve and repair a section of kerb that had broken away from one of the chicanes, and the second with 12 minutes remaining in the session to clean up a crash at turn 17 for Garcia who had spun into the barriers and lost his rear wing. It was the second contact with the walls for the debuting Spaniard during the session. Alguersuari topped the session, with the Virgin Racing driver positing a late 1:15.930 lap to bump di Grassi to second ahead of Sarrazin.
The Punta del Este ePrix race is scheduled to start at 16:00 local time (UTC -02:00) Saturday afternoon, with the drivers to receive fan boost announced on the grid 10 minutes before race start.
2014-15 Formula E Punta del Esta e-Prix – Qualifying Results:
|Driver||Team / Entry||Time||Gap||Laps|
|1.||Jean-Éric Vergne||Andretti Autosport Formula E Team||1:15.408||6|
|2.||Nelson Piquet Jr||China Racing Formula E Team||1:15.530||+ 0.122||8|
|3.||Nicolas Prost||Team e.dams Renault||1:15.722||+ 0.314||6|
|4.||Sébastien Buemi||Team e.dams Renault||1:15.842||+ 0.434||6|
|5.||Jaime Alguersuari||Virgin Racing Formula E Team||1:16.053||+ 0.645||7|
|6.||Lucas di Grassi||Audi Sport ABT Formula E Team||1:16.108||+ 0.700||7|
|7.||Jarno Trulli||Trulli Formula E Team||1:16.144||+ 0.736||6|
|8.||Bruno Senna*||Mahindra Racing Formula E Team||1:16.211||+ 0.803||8|
|9.||Nick Heidfeld||VENTURI Formula E Team||1:16.225||+ 0.817||6|
|10.||Daniel Abt||Audi Sport ABT Formula E Team||1:16.374||+ 0.966||7|
|11.||Karun Chandhok||Mahindra Racing Formula E Team||1:16.416||+ 1.008||5|
|12.||Oriol Servià||Dragon Racing Formula E Team||1:16.811||+ 1.403||6|
|13.||António Félix da Costa||Amlin Aguri||1:16.865||+ 1.457||6|
|14.||Stéphane Sarrazin||VENTURI Formula E Team||1:17.025||+ 1.617||6|
|15.||Antonio García||China Racing Formula E Team||1:17.653||+ 2.245||5|
|16.||Salvador Durán||Amlin Aguri||1:17.810||+ 2.402||5|
|17.||Michela Cerruti||Trulli Formula E Team||1:20.206||+ 4.798||6|
|18.||Sam Bird||Virgin Racing Formula E Team||no time||1|
|19.||Jérôme d’Ambrosio||Dragon Racing Formula E Team||no time||4|
|20.||Matthew Brabham||Andretti Autosport Formula E Team||no time||2|
* Senna stripped of his times due to his car being worked on with less than 5 minutes to the start of the qualifying session.
Image via FIA Formula E Championship Media