Lucas di Grassi has made the perfect start to the 2016-17 Formula E Championship finale, by taking pole position for the Saturday race of the Montréal ePrix.

The three bonus points for pole reduces di Grassi’s points margin to championship leader Sébastien Buemi to just seven points. Buemi ended Super Pole as the second-fastest qualifier, but will start from twelfth – a major crash for the Swiss driver in in the second practice session have forced the Renault e.Dams team to use a replacement battery unit, bringing with it a 10-place grid penalty.

Having been the fastest two drivers in regular qualifying, Buemi and di Grassi were the final two cars on track for Super Pole. Buemi set a benchmark lap of 1:23.065, and although di Grassi was down the the first sector, the Brazilian managed to climb over the top, setting a 1:22.869 lap to grab pole.

Behind the top two in Super Pole was Stéphane Sarrazin in his best qualifying run since joining Techeetah, with Buemi’s teammate Nicolas Prost fourth and Felix Rosenqvist rounding out the top five.

The second Techeetah of Jean-Éric Vergne just missed Super Pole and will start from sixth, ahead of the Jaguars of Mitch Evans and Adam Carroll. Oliver Turvey qualified ninth, with Venturi’s Tom Dillmann completing the top ten.

By missing out on Super Pole, the championship charge is over for Sam Bird. The Briton required wins from pole position with the bonus points for the fastest lap in both Montréal races to have a chance of claiming the title. Bird’s DS Virgin was unable to activate the 200kW qualifying power mode, leaving him stranded in 18th on the grid.

Bird’s team mate José María López encountered the same issue and could only muster 16th place from his underpowered car. Also hitting trouble was Jérôme d’Ambrosio: his Faraday Future Dragon Racing team released his car onto the circuit with too little time left to complete a flying lap at full power. He will start from 20th on the grid.

2016-17 Formula E Montréal ePrix – Race 1 ‘Super Pole’ Results
Pos Driver Team / Entry Time Gap*
1. Lucas di Grassi ABT Schaeffler Audi Sport 1:22.869
2. Sébastien Buemi^ Renault e.Dams 1:23.065 + 0.196
3. Stéphane Sarrazin Techeetah 1:23.179 + 0.310
4. Felix Rosenqvist Mahindra Racing 1:24.351 + 1.482
5. Nicolas Prost Renault e.Dams no time
2016-17 Formula E Montréal ePrix – Race 1 Preliminary Qualifying Results
Pos Driver Team / Entry Time Gap*
6. Jean-Éric Vergne Techeetah 1:23.398 + 0.372
7. Mitch Evans Panasonic Jaguar Racing 1:23.532 + 0.506
8. Adam Carroll Panasonic Jaguar Racing 1:23.869 + 0.843
9. Oliver Turvey NextEV NIO Formula E Team 1:23.923 + 0.897
10. Tom Dillmann Venturi Formula E Team 1:23.931 + 0.905
11. Loïc Duval Faraday Future Dragon Racing 1:23.999 + 0.973
12. Daniel Abt ABT Schaeffler Audi Sport 1:24.302 + 1.276
13. Robin Frijns MS Amlin Andretti Formula E Team 1:24.622 + 1.596
14. Nick Heidfeld Mahindra Racing 1:24.769 + 1.743
15. António Félix da Costa MS Amlin Andretti Formula E Team 1:24.805 + 1.779
16. José María López DS Virgin Racing 1:25.297 + 2.271
17. Maro Engel Venturi Formula E Team 1:25.369 + 2.343
18. Sam Bird DS Virgin Racing 1:25.770 + 2.744
19. Nelson Piquet Jr NextEV NIO Formula E Team 1:26.165 + 3.139
NQ. Jérôme d’Ambrosio Faraday Future Dragon Racing 1:36.580 + 13.554

* Denotes gap to fastest Q1 qualifying lap time of 1:23.026 posted by Lucas di Grassi.

^ Post-Qualifying Penalties:

  • Sébastien Buemi – who provisionally qualified second-fastest – will serve a 10-place grid penalty for an unscheduled battery change.

Earlier, di Grassi started the event strongly by topping the opening practice session. The Brazilian’s 1:22.415 lap was the only full lap completed in the 200kW qualifying mode. Second-fastest on the time sheets was Bird, over a second adrift, with Vergne in third position. Buemi started a lap at full power but hit traffic and backed off, ultimately ending the session fourth fastest.

Nicolas Prost set the pace in Practice 2, lowering the fastest time of the day at that point to 1:22.180. Vergne, Rosenqvist, Sarrazin and Nick Heidfeld followed in a tightly bunched group to fill the top six.

The session was red flagged and ended around five minutes earlier than scheduled due to Buemi’s crash. Clipping the wall in entry to the chicane, the Renault e.Dams was ricocheted across to the exit barrier, causing extensive damage to the front suspension on both sides. It was later confirmed that not only did the battery unit need replacing but also the car’s tub had been damaged – leaving the team mere hours to build up a replacement monocoque for Buemi to use as a second car in the afternoon’s race.

Image via FIA Formula E Championship

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Mitch Timms

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