Sebastien Buemi has claimed pole for the Monaco ePrix, topping the timesheets in a session that included a parc ferme disagreement between second placed Lucas di Grassi and Nelson Piquet Jr.
The first qualifying group of di Grassi, Piquet, Karun Chandhok, Jean-Eric Vergne and Sam Bird saw Piquet jump to the top early setting a 53.712 lap – ultimately giving him fourth on the grid – before di Grassi would sneak ahead late in the group, his 53.669 second effort giving him provisional pole, and eventually being good enough for second on the grid.
At the conclusion of their group, Piquet confronted di Grassi in parc ferme, claiming that the championship leader had compromised his final lap by blocking at La Rascasse.
In group two, Nicolas Prost, Bruno Senna, Daniel Abt, Jerome d’Ambrosio and Stephane Sarrazin hit the track, with d’Ambrosio setting the most competitive lap of 53.702 seconds to top the group and slot in between the times set by di Grassi and Piquet. At the conclusion of qualifying this time would leave the Dragon driver in third on the grid, with Abt to start from fifth and Prost from sixth.
Group three comprised Buemi, Charles Pic, Loic Duval, Salvador Duran and Scott Speed. Buemi jumped to the top of both the group and qualifying overall with a 53.478s lap that would not be beaten, giving the edams.Renault driver the best position to aim for his (and for that matter any driver’s) second win in the series.
Duval set a lap time that would have placed him fifth on the grid, however the Dragon racer, along with Chandhok’s Mahindra and the Virgin of Jaime Alguersuari will take ten-place grid penalties for changing the Rechargeable Energy Storage Systems (RESS) in their cars. Formula E regulations provide each driver with one ‘joker’ per season to change their car’s RESS, and with these three drivers making their second change to the system, a penalty has been applied.
The final group consisting Alguersuari, Antonio Felix da Costa, Nick Heidfeld and the Trullis of Jarno Trulli and Vitantonio Liuzzi failed to make any great impact on the final order of qualifying, with the most notable moment being a red flag in the session caused by da Costa damaging the rear end of his car after running wide at Tabac.
Earlier, the edams.Renault team dominated Practice 1, with Prost (54.171) one tenth of a second faster than team mate Buemi on a track described as ‘very green’ by several drivers. China Racing’s Charles Pic in third, who led a tight group of cars in the remainder of the top ten, with the 1.1 second gap from Pic to Duval in tenth being tighter than the 1.2-second gap between Buemi and third place.
Practice 2 saw the Senna name return to the top of the Monaco timing screens, with Bruno setting a 53.770 lap, 0.102 seconds faster than Alguersuari in second. The session was punctuated by two brief red flags to replace the bollards at the exit of the Swimming Pool complex, dislodged by passing cars.
The Monaco ePrix race is scheduled to start at 16:00 local time this afternoon.
Image via FIA Formula E Championship
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