Mahindra’s Felix Rosenqvist has taken pole position for the inaugural Rome ePrix in a messy Super Pole session which saw several drivers – including Rosenqvist himself – make mistakes.

Rosenqvist set a 1:36.311 lap in Super Pole, surviving a clip of the wall at the exit of Turn 12 to head the field, ahead of Sam Bird and the Jaguar of Mitch Evans. Evans’ lap included a moment over the bumps under braking into the Turn 13 hairpin, a similar issue to that faced by Sébastien Buemi. As a result of his moment, Buemi missed the apex of the corner and will start from fifth place.

André Lotterer, who was fastest in the group stages of qualifying, also clipped the barriers – at Turn 15 in the Techeetah driver’s case – ultimately set the fourth fastest-time, splitting Evans and Buemi.

The biggest news of the group stages was the failure of Championship leader Jean-Éric Vergne to progress to Super Pole. Running in group two, the Frenchman was only able to set a time good enough for eighth on the grid. Reigning champion Lucas di Grassi also just missed out of progressing further and will start from sixth, with Oliver Turvey in seventh. Daniel Abt and Nick Heidfeld fill the remaining positions in ten top ten.

Group qualifying was in fact a messier affair than the Super Pole session, resulting in several tales of woe. Jérôme d’Ambrosio and local driver Luca Filippi both failed to set a competitive lap time. In both cases miscalculations of the time available to complete a lap on the second-longest circuit of the year left both stuck with their warm-up lap times for qualifying. As a result, d’Ambrosio will start 16th on the grid, with Filippi in 18th.

The pair is split by Edoardo Mortara, who much like Rosenqvist’s lap in Super Pole, clipped the wall at Turn 12. The Venturi driver was not as lucky though, breaking the rear suspension on his car and crossing over the finish line on three wheels.

As much as d’Ambrosio, Mortara and Filippi experienced misadventure in qualifying, at least they all made it out of the pit lane.

In one of the stranger incidents seen in Formula E, Dragon’s José María López and Andretti’s António Félix da Costa collided in the pit lane. With their teams in adjoining garage in the pit lane, da Costa was released just after López left his bunker, with the Andretti T-boning the Dragon and pushing it into the inside of the pit wall. The session was over for both drivers, who will now share the final row of the grid.

2018 ABB Formula E Championship Rome ePrix – ‘Super Pole’ Results
Pos Driver Team / Entry Time Gap*
1. Felix Rosenqvist Mahindra Racing 1:36.311
2. Sam Bird DS Virgin Racing Citroën 1:36.987 + 0.676
3. Mitch Evans Panasonic Jaguar Racing 1:37.199 + 0.888
4. André Lotterer Techeetah Renault 1:37.235 + 0.924
5. Sébastien Buemi Renault e.Dams 1:37.817 + 1.506
2018 ABB Formula E Championship Mexico City ePrix – Preliminary Qualifying Results
Pos Driver Team / Entry Time Gap*
6. Lucas di Grassi Audi Sport ABT Schaeffler 1:36.973 + 0.380
7. Jean-Éric Vergne Techeetah Renault 1:37.045 + 0.452
8. Oliver Turvey NIO Formula E Team 1:37.055 + 0.462
9. Daniel Abt Audi Sport ABT Schaeffler 1:37.117 + 0.524
10. Nick Heidfeld Mahindra Racing 1:37.365 + 0.772
11. Alex Lynn DS Virgin Racing Citroën 1:37.546 + 0.953
12. Tom Blomqvist MS&AD Andretti Formula E 1:37.561 + 0.968
13. Nelson Piquet Jr Panasonic Jaguar Racing 1:38.066 + 1.473
14. Maro Engel Venturi Formula E Team 1:38.212 + 1.619
15. Nicolas Prost Renault e.Dams 1:38.410 + 1.817
16. Jérôme d’Ambrosio^ Dragon Racing Penske 1:42.003 + 5.410
DNQ. Edoardo Mortara Venturi Formula E Team 1:47.802 + 11.209
DNQ. Luca Filippi NIO Formula E Team 2:09.829 + 33.236
DNQ. José María López Dragon Racing Penske no time
DNQ. António Félix da Costa^ MS&AD Andretti Formula E no time

* Denotes gap to fastest Q1 qualifying lap time of 1:36.593 posted by André Lotterer.

^ Post-Qualifying Penalties:

  • Jérôme d’Ambrosio – who provisionally qualified 16th-fastest – will serve a two-place grid penalty for passing the chequered flag twice during Qualifying Group 1.
  • António Félix da Costa – who failed to qualify after not posting a time – will serve a ten-place grid penalty for causing an avoidable collision with José María López in the pit lane during Qualifying Group 4.

Earlier, Nelson Piquet Jr topped the first practice session at the circuit, clocking a 1:36.134 lap to edge out Bird and Evans. Piquet had earlier struggled with braking during the session, having a near miss with the barriers, with Vergne also finding himself in a similar situation. Alex Lynn in the second DS Virgin was not as lucky, hitting the wall and damaging the left front corner of his car.

Rosenqvist moved to the top in Practice 2, setting a new lap record of 1:35.467 ahead of Bird and di Grassi. Lynn’s tough luck sessions continued, the Brit collecting the barriers for a second time, in this case drifting sideways at Turn 20.

Images via ABB FIA Formula E Championship

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Mitch Timms

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