Sébastien Buemi will start the Paris ePrix from pole position, beating Jean-Éric Vergne in the closest qualifying margin in Formula E history.

Only 0.006 seconds separated Buemi’s 1:03.319 Super Pole lap and Vergne’s time, meaning the championship leader in the factory Renault e.Dams will start ahead of the customer Renault Techeetah.

DS Virgin Racing’s José María López ended Super Pole in third place, ahead of Oliver Turvey’s NextEV NIO. Turvey’s fourth place in qualifying has been relegated to fourteenth for the race start due to a motor change and as a result the second Techeetah of Esteban Gutiérrez – who made Super Pole for the first time in just his third ePrix – moves up one position.

Gutiérrez had made a mistake during his Super Pole lap and ran off the circuit, but a second row grid position is still a suitable reward for the Mexican who has impressed since joining the series.

Buemi and championship rival Lucas di Grassi were drawn in the first group of regular qualifying, along with Sam Bird, Mahindra’s Felix Rosenqvist and Daniel Abt. While Buemi progressed, the others clearly struggling with the track conditions at the time. Rosenqvist was the best of the rest by ultimately qualifying seventh, but it was a shocking session for di Grassi, who could only set a time good enough for 14th in the final order, and will start 13th after Turvey’s penalty is applied. If another Buemi vs di Grassi battle is to unfold, the Brazilian has a long way to fight through. Buemi’s teammate Abt will start from sixteenth position.

The second qualifying group fared better, with López moving into Super Pole while Mitch Evans placed the Jaguar in ninth. Buemi’s teammate Nicolas Prost, the returning Mike Conway and Nelson Piquet Jr filled positions tenth, eleventh and twelfth respectively.

Group 3 produced the bulk of the Super Pole runners as Vergne, Turvey and Gutiérrez moved through. Jérôme d’Ambrosio qualified in thirteenth, while a technical fault halted Stéphane Sarrazin’s qualifying session, consigning the local driver to 20th and last on the grid.

No drivers from Group 4 made it to Super Pole, however Nick Heidfeld came close, the Mahindra driver setting the sixth fastest time, just 0.014s outside the cut-off. Robin Frijns qualified his Andretti in eighth, notably better than his teammate António Félix da Costa who will start from 17th position. On debut, Tom Dillmann will start from 15th, while Adam Carroll qualified the second Jaguar in 19th place.

2016-17 Formula E Paris ePrix – ‘Super Pole’ Results
Pos Driver Team / Entry Time Gap*
1. Sébastien Buemi Renault e.Dams 1:02.319
2. Jean-Éric Vergne Techeetah 1:02.325 + 0.006
3. José María López DS Virgin Racing 1:02.640 + 0.321
4. Oliver Turvey^ NextEV NIO Formula E Team 1:02.910 + 0.591
5. Esteban Gutiérrez Techeetah 1:13.287 + 10.968
2016-17 Formula E Paris ePrix – Preliminary Qualifying Results
Pos Driver Team / Entry Time Gap*
6. Nick Heidfeld Mahindra Racing 1:02.611 + 0.440
7. Felix Rosenqvist Mahindra Racing 1:02.617 + 0.446
8. Robin Frijns MS Amlin Andretti Formula E Team 1:02.654 + 0.483
9. Mitch Evans Panasonic Jaguar Racing 1:02.687 + 0.516
10. Nicolas Prost Renault e.Dams 1:02.746 + 0.575
11. Mike Conway Faraday Future Dragon Racing 1:02.808 + 0.637
12. Nelson Piquet Jr NextEV NIO Formula E Team 1:02.810 + 0.639
13. Jérôme d’Ambrosio Faraday Future Dragon Racing 1:02.814 + 0.643
14. Lucas di Grassi ABT Schaeffler Audi Sport 1:02.840 + 0.669
15. Tom Dillman Venturi Formula E Team 1:03.024 + 0.853
16. Daniel Abt ABT Schaeffler Audi Sport 1:03.071 + 0.900
17. António Félix da Costa MS Amlin Andretti Formula E Team 1:03.268 + 1.097
18. Sam Bird DS Virgin Racing 1:03.573 + 1.402
19. Adam Carroll Panasonic Jaguar Racing 1:03.771 + 1.600
20. Stéphane Sarrazin Venturi Formula E Team 1:06.121 + 3.950

* Denotes gap to fastest Q1 qualifying lap time of 1:02.171 posted by Sébastien Buemi.

^ Post-Qualifying Penalties:

  • Oliver Turvey – who provisionally qualified fourth-fastest – will drop 10 grid places for an unscheduled motor unit change.

Earlier, the two championship protagonists – Buemi and di Grassi – each topped a practice session. By being the only driver to complete a 200kW qualifying simulation in Practice 1, Buemi topped the session ahead of López – who survived nosing into the barriers early in the session – and Vergne. The session was interrupted by a short red flag period to recover Bird’s DS Virgin racer, which had stopped on circuit.

Practice 2 was di Grassi’s turn to lead, setting an unofficial lap record of 1:01.359 to beat out López – who had another incident during the session, running down an escape road – and Buemi. Lopez was not alone in leaving the circuit, with Conway, Carroll and Gutiérrez all having off-track excursions during the session.

Image via FIA Formula E Championship

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Mitch Timms

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