The front row of the grid for the Saturday race of the Formula E London ePrix looks like a flashback to late eighties Formula 1, with Prost and Senna to start side by side – however in 2016 it is Nicolas Prost’s Renault e.Dams on pole with Bruno Senna’s Mahindra starting from second.

Super Pole was conducted on a drying track and Robin Frijns was first on circuit, having a few loose moments as he banked a 1:29.500 lap. Bruno Senna followed and improved the benchmark by 1.742 seconds to move ahead. Oliver Turvey’s Super Pole lap on his home circuit could not better Senna’s time, setting a 1:28.284 lap and moving into provisional second. But it was Prost as the final car on track who claimed pole position with a lap on the absolute limit of control. Despite a major lock up early in the lap and several slides, the Frenchman set a 1:27.192 lap time to move to the top of the time sheets.

Jean-Éric Vergne will start from fifth on the grid but did not take part in the Super Pole session, having earlier damaged his designated qualifying car during regular qualifying.

Earlier Nicolas Prost topped the first qualifying group, setting a 1:23.247 fast lap with the full 200kW available. Ma Qing Hua ran down a run off area prompting a yellow flag, before Vergne caused a red flag by hitting the wall. This had an effect on Robin Frijns as well, the Dutchman having not completed his full power lap when the red flag was flown.

To address this situation, Race Control took the unprecedented step of extending the time available for the first group by four minutes for only Frijns to complete a single timed lap under full power. With reports of rain starting to fall and even a rogue squirrel on the circuit Frijns couldn’t match Prost’s time, ending 1.1 seconds behind in provisional second place. Vergne and Ma sat in provisional third and fourth respectively courtesy of their low-power warm up lap times.

Group 2 comprised Bruno Senna’s Mahindra, Stéphane Sarrazin’s Venturi, Oliver Turvey’s NEXTEV TCR and the second Andretti of Simona de Silvestro. Turvey moved into second with a full power lap 1:23.969 and Senna into provisional third place before Sarrazin clouted the wall at the chicane and brought out the red flag. Just like Group 1, the session was extended by four minutes for de Silvestro to complete her full power lap, however rain fell briefly but heavily during the red flag and caused the Swiss driver to spin and hit the wall during her extra lap, prompting another red flag and ending the group.

All eyes were on qualifying Group 3, which contained the primary championship combatants in Sébastien Buemi and Lucas di Grassi, along with the two Dragons of Loïc Duval and Jérôme d’Ambrosio and the Aguri of Antônio Félix da Costa. While having di Grassi and Buemi together in once group means both have equal conditions for qualifying, the track was still damp from the earlier downpour leaving all of Group 3 well off the earlier pace. Importantly though, di Grassi was the second fastest of the group and in eighth place behind Duval, while Buemi was first on the road and session’s slowest – ending in provisional eleventh place.

The track continued to dry ahead of Group 4, which saw Daniel Abt, Nelson Piquet Jr, Sam Bird, Mike Conway and Nick Heidfeld take to the circuit. With some areas still damp, Conway ran down an escape road, only to clip the wall while trying to spin around and prompt yet another red flag. Five more minutes were added to the group, with all drivers except Conway allowed to return to the track. Once running resumed Abt moved to sixth place, just missing out on Super Pole, with Bird seventh and Heidfeld eighth. A technical issue forced Piquet Jr back to the garage.

By missing out on pole position, Sam Bird is now mathematically out of contention for the Drivers’ Championship title. This leaves only di Grassi and Buemi challenging for the title, where they will start Saturday’s race from eleventh and fourteenth place respectively.

2015-16 Formula E Berlin ePrix – ‘Super Pole’ Results
Pos Driver Team / Entry Time Gap
1. Nicolas Prost Renault e.DAMS 1:27.192
2. Bruno Senna Mahindra Racing Formula E Team 1:27.758 + 0.566
3. Oliver Turvey NEXTEV TCR Formula E Team 1:28.284 + 1.092
4. Robin Frijns MS Amlin Andretti Formula E Team 1:29.500 + 2.308
5. Jean-Éric Vergne DS Virgin Racing Formula E Team no time
2015-16 Formula E London ePrix – Preliminary Qualifying Results
Pos Driver Team / Entry Time Gap*
6. Daniel Abt ABT Schaeffler Audi Sport 1:29.814 + 6.567
7. Sam Bird DS Virgin Racing Formula E Team 1:30.453 + 7.206
8. Nick Heidfeld Mahindra Racing Formula E Team 1:32.367 + 9.120
9. Stéphane Sarrazin Venturi Formula E Team 1:33.660 + 10.413
10. Loïc Duval Dragon Racing 1:35.315 + 12.068
11. Lucas di Grassi ABT Schaeffler Audi Sport 1:35.711 + 12.464
12. Jérôme d’Ambrosio Dragon Racing 1:35.727 + 12.480
13. Ma Qing Hua Team Aguri 1:36.748 + 13.501
14. Sébastien Buemi Renault e.DAMS 1:36.771 + 13.524
15. Mike Conway Venturi Formula E Team 1:37.562 + 14.315
16. Antônio Félix da Costa Team Aguri 1:38.501 + 15.254
17. Nelson Piquet Jr NEXTEV TCR Formula E Team 1:38.922 + 15.675
18. Simona de Silvestro MS Amlin Andretti Formula E Team 1:50.455 + 27.208

* Denotes gap to fastest Q1 qualifying lap time of 1:23.247 posted by Nicholas Prost.

The day started with Prost setting the fastest time in Practice One, ahead of Duval and Buemi. The red flag was flown part-way through the session as Frijns hit the wall, with the fastest times being set once running resumed with ten minutes to go in the session.

Buemi moved to the top in Practice Two, over a tenth of a second ahead of Daniel Abt, Prost and Duval. Buemi’s 1:23.171 lap was in fact eight-tenths faster than the season one pole position lap time. di Grassi could only set the fifth best time after finding himself caught in traffic, while Jérôme d’Ambrosio clipped the wall during the session.

The Saturday race of the London ePrix is scheduled to start at 16:03 local time.

Image via XPB Images

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Mitch Timms

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