e.dams-Renault driver Sébastien Buemi will start from pole position for this afternoon’s Buenos Aires ePrix, having topped qualifying and both practice sessions this morning.
The Swiss driver, winner last time out in Uruguay, was drawn in the first qualifying group – often seen as a disadvantage – alongside Sam Bird, António Félix da Costa, Ho-Pin Tung and Nelson Piquet Jr. Buemi set the pace early, but it was a later, 1:09.134 lap that would ultimately get him pole, despite locking up at Turn 4 during the lap. Bird ended the session in P2, also making a mistake during his lap as he brushed the wall on the exit of the final corner. Félix da Costa ended the group in third, just over half a second slower than Buemi, ahead of Piquet Jr, who struggled with an oversteering car, and Tung.
The second qualifying group comprised Jaime Alguersuari, Oriol Servià, Nicolas Prost, Lucas di Grassi and Michela Cerruti. Di Grassi’s first flying lap moved him to third overall, before Alguersuari went faster to move to second place, just 0.027 seconds behind Buemi’s time. Cerruti brushed the wall at Turn 4 but continued, however the session was red flagged with just over three minutes remaining following a crash for di Grassi.
The championship leader appeared to lose control under braking into Turn 6 and hit the wall, tearing the right front wheel from the car. The Brazilian limped back to the pits, however the session was stopped to clear the debris he had left behind. Following the session resuming, the only major change in the group came from Prost, who moved to fifth overall.
Karun Chandhok, Nick Heidfeld, Stéphane Sarrazin, Daniel Abt and Salvador Durán were next on track in the third group, where Abt initially moved to eighth position, only for Heidfeld and Chandhok to immediately slot ahead of him. Heidfeld then set the fastest time of the group – his 1:09.367 lap giving him third place on the grid before pitting. His Venturi team mate Sarrazin could only manage what was at the time the tenth-fastest lap.
Dragon Racing’s Jérôme d’Ambrosio, driver/owner Jarno Trulli, Mahindra’s Bruno Senna and Andretti Autosport teammates Jean-Éric Vergne and Marco Andretti were the final group on circuit, and beyond the Andretti drivers themselves (Verne finishing P6 and Andretti P14 on debut), the group made little impact on the time sheets despite having theoretically the best track conditions.
There were several incidents that occurred during the session. Trulli brought out the red flag before even setting a time, locking rear brakes on the entry to Turn 4, hitting the fence and damaging the front and rear wings, along with the front right and rear suspension on his car. The incident will mean the Italian will start last on the grid, pending any penalties.
Upon restarting, the Andretti cars set their laps, meanwhile d’Ambrosio quickly returned to the pits, soon followed by Senna who will start 19th after also contacting the wall at Turn 4. On his final lap, Vergne had a big lock up at Turn 1, followed by another (and a trip down the escape road) at Turn 4, causing him to abandon his lap and handing pole to Buemi.
Buemi was satisfied with his morning, but stressed the importance of race strategy, where the high Argentinian temperatures may play havoc as he attempts to become the first two-time (and back-to-back) Formula E race winner.
“I’m really happy, but this is just the start, now I need to finish here. It was hard to say how the track would respond, we’ve seen previously it has got quicker as it rubbers in but you never know. In that session the battery temperature wasn’t an issue but it could be in the race. Strategy for each driver will be key,” he said.
Senna, d’Ambrosio, Vergne, Andretti and Prost were all announced as being under investigation for incidents during qualifying, whilst da Costa was directed to meet with the Race Director at the end of the session. With these investigations pending, there may potentially be some changes to the mid-field of the starting grid for today’s race.
2015 Formula E Buenos Aires e-Prix – Qualifying Results:
|Driver||Team / Entry||Time||Gap||Laps|
|1.||Sébastien Buemi||Team e.dams Renault||1:09.134||5|
|2.||Jaime Alguersuari||Virgin Racing Formula E Team||1:09.161||+ 0.027||5|
|3.||Nick Heidfeld||VENTURI Formula E Team||1:09.367||+ 0.233||6|
|4.||Sam Bird||Virgin Racing Formula E Team||1:09.388||+ 0.254||6|
|5.||Lucas di Grassi||Audi Sport ABT Formula E Team||1:09.521||+ 0.387||4|
|6.||Jean-Éric Vergne||Andretti Autosport Formula E Team||1:09.527||+ 0.393||7|
|7.||Nicolas Prost||Team e.dams Renault||1:09.636||+ 0.502||8|
|8.||António Félix da Costa||Amlin Aguri||1:09.658||+ 0.524||6|
|9.||Nelson Piquet Jr||China Racing Formula E Team||1:09.742||+ 0.608||7|
|10.||Karun Chandhok||Mahindra Racing Formula E Team||1:09.875||+ 0.741||4|
|11.||Stéphane Sarrazin||VENTURI Formula E Team||1:10.165||+ 1.031||6|
|12.||Daniel Abt||Audi Sport ABT Formula E Team||1:10.329||+ 1.195||6|
|13.||Oriol Servià||Dragon Racing Formula E Team||1:10.588||+ 1.454||6|
|14.||Marco Andretti||Andretti Autosport Formula E Team||1:10.713||+ 1.579||7|
|15.||Ho-Pin Tung||China Racing Formula E Team||1:11.049||+ 1.915||7|
|16.||Salvador Durán||Amlin Aguri||1:11.331||+ 2.197||5|
|17.||Michela Cerruti||Trulli Formula E Team||1:11.785||+ 2.651||9|
|18.||Jérôme d’Ambrosio||Dragon Racing Formula E Team||1:12.239||+ 4.105||4|
|19.||Bruno Senna*||Mahindra Racing Formula E Team||1:13.209||+ 4.075||7|
|20.||Jarno Trulli||Trulli Formula E Team||no time||1|
Earlier, Buemi topped both of the mornings practice sessions. In Practice 1, the Swiss driver set an early bench mark, before Durán, Vergne and da Costa in turn all set the fastest time. Di Grassi had just jumped to the top with a 1:12.474 at the 15 minute mark of the session, when a red flag was called for Piquet Jr, who had crashed at the Tun 8/9 chicane and damaged the nose of his car.
Upon the resumption of the session, Buemi returned to the top, before Piquet Jr – now in his second car – became the first driver to set a sub-1:12 lap time. Chandhok improved the mark into the 1:10s, before Buemi regained top spot once more with a 1:09.475 lap that ultimately was the fastest of the session. In the final two minutes, di Grassi and Abt moved into second and third places respectively.
Practice 2 saw Buemi set the fastest time early in the session, his 1:08.933 lap withstanding all challenges that followed. The session was red flagged at approximately the half way point as Stéphane Sarrazin’s Venturi hit the wall at Turn 4 – the first of what would be a number of crashes at that corner in the day – breaking the rear wing and damaging the right rear corner in the process. Di Grassi again finished the session in second, da Costa third.
In his first sessions in a Formula E car, Marco Andretti finished Practice 1 4.6 seconds off the pace in 19th before improving to 14th place in Practice 2, 2.1 seconds slower than Buemi’s time.
The Buenos Aires ePrix race is scheduled to start at 16:00 local time (UTC -03:00) this afternoon, with the FanBoost recipient drivers being announced ten minutes prior.
Image via Formula E Media