Jean-Éric Vergne has claimed pole position for the inaugural Santiago ePrix. The Techeetah driver clocked a 1:19.161 lap in ‘Super Pole’ around the Parque Forestal Ciudad De Santiago track.
Having been the fourth fastest driver in regular qualifying, Vergne’s ‘Super Pole’ lap was enough to grab top spot, 0.194 seconds ahead of Sébastien Buemi. Reigning champion Lucas di Grassi set the third fastest time, but in a continuation of the Brazilian’s bad luck this season a ten-place grid penalty for changing the power inverter in his car will see him forced to start from 13th place.
The final two drivers in ‘Super Pole’ both encountered misfortune. Sam Bird crashed rear-first into the wall through the Turns 5-6 complex and failed to complete his lap. The Briton ended the session fifth-fastest, moving to fourth on the grid following di Grassi’s penalty.
Bird’s drama allowed the second Techeetah of André Lotterer to still finish ‘Super Pole’ in fourth (and ultimately third on the grid) despite hitting the barriers at Turn 1 and breaking the front wing, the German limped his damaged car to the end of the lap – some 27 seconds slower than his teammate.
Jaguar’s Nelson Piquet Jr was the first driver to miss out on Super Pole and will line up fifth, ahead of Alex Lynn, Oliver Turvey, Nicolas Prost, José María López and Daniel Abt in tenth place.
The biggest news during regular qualifying was the horror session endured by the championship leading Mahindra Racing team. Drivers’ Championship leader Felix Rosenqvist’s full-power lap was a messy affair, good enough for only 14th on the grid, with teammate Nick Heidfeld one place further back.
Two drivers ran down the escape road at Turn 3 during qualifying, with Luca Filippi and Mitch Evans left to occupy the final row of the grid as a result.
Earlier in the day, opening practice was topped by Bird who set a 1:19.473, 0.207 seconds faster than Rosenqvist, with Vergne in third. Buemi grazed the fence during the session, leaving the Swiss former champion with the sessions 12th fastest time, while Maro Engel collided with the barriers at Turn 3 in his Venturi, bringing out the red flags as a result.
Vergne moved to the top of the time sheets in Practice 2 with a 1:18.662 lap, just ahead of Alex Lynn (1:18.692) and Evans (1:18.872). With the track warming and rubber going down, 12 of the 20 drivers improved their times from Practice 1, however this time Nico Prost hit the wall to bring out a red flag.
Image via FIA Formula E Championship
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