Sam Bird has taken his first Formula E pole position, topping the ‘Super Pole’ session at the Buenos Aires ePrix.
On track in the first regular qualifying group, Bird set a time that would ultimately leave him in just fourth, but crucially through to the one-lap shootout for the fastest five preliminary qualifiers. The fastest time in the first group – and ultimately the whole of regular qualifying – was a 1:09.236 lap by Stéphane Sarrazin, while the second Venturi of series debutant Mike Conway also made it through to the Super Pole shootout.
Of the five drivers in Group 2, only Nicolas Prost made it to Super Pole, his 1:09.473s lap the third fastest of regular qualifying.
Also in the second qualifying group, championship leader Sébastien Buemi became the notable absentee from Super Pole. The Renault eDAMS driver spun on his sole full-power lap and as a result of the mistake will start in 18th and last position. By comparison, championship rival Lucas di Grassi qualified in seventh, a big advantage heading into the race.
Group 3 failed to have any drivers qualify for Super Pole, the fastest driver in the group being Andretti’s Robin Frijns in sixth, missing progression by just 0.014 seconds.
The highlight of group four was António Félix da Costa. The defending Buenos Aires ePrix winner set the second fastest overall time using Team Aguri’s Season 1 powertrain package.
The impressive Conway banked a lap in Super Pole which would ultimately leave him in fifth, 2.971 seconds off Bird’s eventual pole time. Bird was second on track and lit up the timing screens with a 1:09.420s lap that could not be touched by the following three drivers. Prost jumped to second, 0.331 seconds behind Bird, da Costa ended third on the grid, while Sarrazin could only beat his Venturi teammate to fourth position.
Having taken two race victories during season one, Bird was excited to finally take a Formula E pole position.
“It’s our first pole so I’m delighted for the team,” he said. “Let’s see what happens in the race – we’re going to give it our best shot. The aim was a podium and that’s definitely a reality now.”
Jean-Éric Vergne did not take part either practice session as he struggled to overcome a bout of food poisoning. Despite initial comments from the DS Virgin team on social media that the Frenchman would miss the entire event, a marked improvement in his condition enabled him to return to the cockpit for qualifying group one, where he set a time good enough for 15th on the grid.
The 35-lap Buenos Aires ePrix gets underway at 2:00pm local time (GMT -3).
|2015-16 Formula E Buenos Aires ePrix – ‘Super Pole’ Results|
|Pos||Driver||Team / Entry||Time||Gap|
|1.||Sam Bird||DS Virgin Racing Formula E Team||1:09.420|
|2.||Nicolas Prost||Renault e.DAMS||1:09.751||+ 0.331|
|3.||António Félix da Costa||Team Aguri||1:09.761||+ 0.341|
|4.||Stéphane Sarrazin||Venturi Formula E Team||1:10.298||+ 0.878|
|5.||Mike Conway||Venturi Formula E Team||1:12.391||+ 2.971|
|2015-16 Formula E Buenos Aires ePrix – Preliminary Qualifying Results|
|Pos||Driver||Team / Entry||Time||Gap*|
|6.||Robin Frijns||Amlin Andretti Formula E Team||1:09.616||+ 0.380|
|7.||Lucas di Grassi||ABT Schaeffler Audi Sport||1:09.677||+ 0.441|
|8.||Daniel Abt||ABT Schaeffler Audi Sport||1:09.814||+ 0.578|
|9.||Nelson Piquet Jr||NEXTEV TCR Formula E Team||1:09.931||+ 0.695|
|10.||Jérôme d’Ambrosio||Dragon Racing||1:10.067||+ 0.831|
|11.||Oliver Turvey||NEXTEV TCR Formula E Team||1:10.126||+ 0.890|
|12.||Loïc Duval||Dragon Racing||1:10.130||+ 0.894|
|13.||Nick Heidfeld||Mahindra Racing Formula E Team||1:10.321||+ 1.085|
|14.||Simona de Silvestro||Amlin Andretti Formula E Team||1:10.446||+ 1.210|
|15.||Jean-Éric Vergne||DS Virgin Racing Formula E Team||1:10.581||+ 1.345|
|16.||Bruno Senna||Mahindra Racing Formula E Team||1:11.306||+ 2.070|
|17.||Salvador Durán||Team Aguri||1:13.256||+ 4.020|
|18.||Sébastien Buemi||Renault e.DAMS||no time|
* Denotes gap to fastest provisional qualifying time of 1:09.236 posted by Stéphane Sarrazin
Earlier, the first practice session of the event was topped by Sam Bird, whose 1:09.913 lap placed the Briton 0.389s ahead of Daniel Abt. Nelson Piquet Jr was third, 0.804 seconds slower than Bird, while Oliver Turvey and championship leader Sébastien Buemi rounded out the top five.
The session was interrupted by a brief red flag period to clear the pit lane of Simona de Silvestro’s Andretti. Whilst leaving the pit lane the Swiss driver snagged the left rear wheel of her car on the inside of the pit wall, damaging the suspension and tearing the rear wing off the car. De Silvestro continued in the session using her second car and ended in 15th position, 2.519 seconds off Bird’s pace. A software glitch also limited de Silvestro’s team mate Robin Frijns during the session, both Andretti cars were repaired in time for Practice 2.
Yellow flags were also briefly shown during the session in reaction to a dog which had found its way on to the circuit.
Buemi finished on top in Practice Two with an unofficial lap record time of 1:08.771, 0.6 seconds ahead of Lucas di Grassi with Buemi’s Renault eDAMS team mate Nicolas Prost a further 0.01s back. Bird’s practice pace continued with fourth position ahead of season one race Buenos Aires winner Antonio Felix da Costa.
Image via FIA Formula E Championship