Sébastien Buemi has moved on from a tough opening weekend in Hong Kong by taking pole position for the Marrakesh ePrix.

The Renault e.Dams driver set a 1:20.355 lap to be the fastest in ‘Super Pole’, and in doing so claimed the ninth pole position of his Formula E career.

Championship leader Sam Bird will start alongside him from second on the grid; the Briton’s ‘Super Pole’ lap was 0.260 seconds slower than Buemi.

Felix Rosenqvist – who had topped the group qualifying stages – put his Mahindra third on the grid. Fourth place was the biggest surprise of qualifying, with José María López – in his first weekend with Dragon Racing – putting his car into the top-five shootout and onto the second row of the grid. Reigning champion Lucas di Grassi rounded out ‘Super Pole’ in fifth place.

Not happy with his lap during the group stages of qualifying, Buemi was pleased to scrape into ‘Super Pole’ and capitalise on the second chance it provides.

“I didn’t do an ideal lap in my qualifying group so I was very happy to get through to ‘Super Pole’,” he said.

“I gave it a lot and the lap time I did there was very good. I’m really happy with the pole; it still sets us up well for the race and I hope I hold on to it! I don’t think it’s [the race] going to be easy, but we’ll do our best.”

Of the drivers not making it past the group stages, Alex Lynn in the second DS Virgin will start from sixth place, with Nelson Piquet Jr (Jaguar Racing), Daniel Abt (Audi Sport), Mitch Evans (Jaguar Racing) and Oliver Turvey (NIO) rounding out the top ten on the grid.

Three drivers struck trouble during their qualifying groups. Nick Heidfeld slid into a tyre barrier and required assistance from recovery officials, leaving the German in 18th.

António Félix da Costa also hit the barriers hard and will start from 19th place, while Venturi’s Edoardo Mortara struggled with reliability issues and will start from 20th.

2018 ABB Formula E Championship Marrakesh ePrix – ‘Super Pole’ Results
Pos Driver Team / Entry Time Gap*
1. Sébastien Buemi Renault e.Dams 1:20.355
2. Sam Bird DS Virgin Racing Citroën 1:20.615 + 0.260
3. Felix Rosenqvist Mahindra Racing 1:21.196 + 0.841
4. José María López Dragon Racing Penske 1:21.369 + 1.014
5. Lucas di Grassi Audi Sport ABT Schaeffler 1:21.444 + 1.089
2018 ABB Formula E Championship Marrakesh ePrix – Preliminary Qualifying Results
Pos Driver Team / Entry Time Gap*
6. Alex Lynn DS Virgin Racing Citroën 1:20.567 + 0.452
7. Nelson Piquet Jr Panasonic Jaguar Racing 1:20.585 + 0.470
8. Daniel Abt Audi Sport ABT Schaeffler 1:20.605 + 0.490
9. Mitch Evans Panasonic Jaguar Racing 1:20.690 + 0.575
10. Oliver Turvey NIO Formula E Team 1:20.748 + 0.633
11. Luca Filippi NIO Formula E Team 1:20.804 + 0.689
12. Tom Blomqvist MS&AD Andretti Formula E 1:20.870 + 0.755
13. Jean-Éric Vergne Techeetah Renault 1:20.906 + 0.791
14. Maro Engel Venturi Formula E Team 1:20.920 + 0.805
15. Nicolas Prost Renault e.Dams 1:20.937 + 0.822
16. Jérôme d’Ambrosio Dragon Racing Penske 1:21.176 + 1.071
17. André Lotterer Techeetah Renault 1:21.222 + 1.107
18. Nick Heidfeld Mahindra Racing 1:28.671 + 8.556
19. António Félix da Costa MS&AD Andretti Formula E 1:36.167 + 16.052
20. Edoardo Mortara Venturi Formula E Team 1:36.733 + 16.618

* Denotes gap to fastest Q1 qualifying lap time of 1:20.115 posted by Felix Rosenqvist.

^ Post-Qualifying Penalties:

    • None

Earlier, Audi Sport Abt Schaeffler drivers swept both practice sessions.

Reigning champion Lucas Di Grassi was fastest in Practice 1, his lap time of 1:20.310 a full 1.2 seconds faster than the pole position in Marrakesh last season.

Second fastest was Jérôme d’Ambrosio, the Dragon driver showing promising signs after his team’s horror weekend last time out in Hong Kong. The second Audi Sport Abt Schaeffler car of Daniel Abt was third fastest, the German setting a 1:21.577 lap despite not using the full 200kW of available power. Both the Venturis encountered problems during the session, as Maro Engel and Edoardo Mortara repeatedly stopped on circuit.

Abt then backed up his performance by topping Practice 2, improving the benchmark time to 1:19.760. Di Grassi put in another solid performance to finish the session in second and give Audi a 1-2 result, ahead of the Renault e.Dams of Buemi, who was 0.176 seconds slower than Abt. With more cars running at 200kW it was a fast session, with 13 of the 20 drivers faster than last season’s qualifying record.

The 2018 Marrakesh ePrix Race is scheduled to start at 16:00 local time (UTC+00:00).

Image via FIA Formula E Championship

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Mitch Timms

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