Sébastien Buemi has led a Renault e.DAMS 1-2 in qualifying for the opening round of the 2015-16 Formula E season, the Beijing ePrix, ahead of teammate Nicolas Prost. Reigning champion Nelson Piquet, by contrast, starts the race from last place after an embarrassing practice accident earlier in the day.

Buemi continued what has so far been a dominant weekend. The Swiss driver was fastest in Friday’s open test session and repeated the feat in Saturday’s first practice session. Comfortably fastest overall out of the four group qualifying sessions, Buemi was the last man on track for the inaugural one-lap ‘Super Pole’ to determine the top-five starting positions on the grid.

Also joining he and Prost were Nick Heidfeld (Mahindra), Lucas di Grassi (Abt Schaeffler Audi) and Jean-Éric Vergne (DS Virgin Racing).

Di Grassi was out first, posting a rather pedestrian 1:39.539 and was easily beaten by the next man out, Heidfeld, who clocked a 1:38.339. Prost was a further seven-tenths than the man he famously collided with on the final lap of last year’s race to claim provisional pole.

Prost held the position thanks to Vergne fluffing his lap by sliding down the escape road at Turn 1, which left Buemi as the last runner. Two-tenths of a second quicker than Prost in Sector 1, he then locked up a second chicane and lost three-tenths before regaining that deficit in the final sector to go fastest by 0.284 seconds.

Venturi’s Stéphane Sarrazin narrowly missed out on a ‘Super Pole’ berth by one-tenth of a second and starts from sixth place ahead of the second Mahindra of Bruno Senna. The two Dragon Racing entries of Loïc Duval and Jérôme d’Ambrosio sandwich eighth-fastest Sam Bird in the second DS Virgin Racing entry.

Reigning champion Nelson Piquet’s troubled Saturday continued into qualifying, where he was slowest of all. The Brazilian lost valuable track time in his NEXTEV TCR entry after crashing it in Practice 1 at the exit of the pit lane; his mechanics were only able to repair the car in time for limited track running in Practice 2.

The 26-lap Beijing ePrix gets underway at 4:00pm local time (GMT +8).

2015-16 Formula E Formula E Beijing ePrix – ‘Super Pole’ Results
Pos Driver Team / Entry Time Gap
1. Sébastien Buemi Renault e.DAMS 1:37.297
2. Nicolas Prost Renault e.DAMS 1:37.581 + 0.284
3. Nick Heidfeld Mahindra Racing Formula E Team 1:38.339 + 1.042
4. Lucas di Grassi ABT Schaeffler Audi Sport 1:39.539 + 2.242
5. Jean-Éric Vergne DS Virgin Racing Formula E Team 2:21.284 + 43.987
2015-16 Formula E Formula E Beijing ePrix – Preliminary Qualifying Results
Pos Driver Team / Entry Time Gap*
6. Stéphane Sarrazin Venturi Formula E Team 1:38.645 + 1.157
7. Bruno Senna Mahindra Racing Formula E Team 1:38.761 + 1.273
8. Loïc Duval Dragon Racing 1:38.859 + 1.371
9. Sam Bird DS Virgin Racing Formula E Team 1:38.884 + 1.396
10. Jérôme d’Ambrosio Dragon Racing 1:39.058 + 1.570
11. Daniel Abt ABT Schaeffler Audi Sport 1:39.220 + 1.732
12. Jacques Villeneuve Venturi Formula E Team 1:39.665 + 2.177
13. Robin Frijns Amlin Andretti Formula E Team 1:39.672 + 2.184
14. Simona de Silvestro Amlin Andretti Formula E Team 1:39.681 + 2.193
15. Oliver Turvey NEXTEV TCR Formula E Team 1:39.734 + 2.246
16. António Félix da Costa Team Aguri 1:40.295 + 2.807
17. Nathanaël Berthon Team Aguri 1:40.386 + 2.898
18. Nelson Piquet Jr NEXTEV TCR Formula E Team 1:40.638 + 3.150

* Denotes gap to fastest provisional qualifying time of 1:37.488 posted by Sébastien Buemi

Image via FIA Formula E Championship

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Mitch Timms

Journalist at MotorsportM8
Professional motorsport engineer and all-round tech head.