Sébastien Buemi will start from pole position for the opening race of the New York City ePrix, following a qualifying session which has seen penalties force championship leader Jean-Éric Vergne and his Techeetah teammate André Lotterer to the back of the grid.

Buemi dominated the Super Pole session, posting a 1:13.911 lap time around the Brooklyn Street Circuit, over half a second faster than Jaguar’s Mitch Evans who will line up second on the grid. In what is a strong start to the final weekend for the Renault e.Dams team in its current guise, Buemi’s teammate Nico Prost set a 1:14.921 lap and will start third.

The final two places in Super Pole were filled by Dragon’s Jérôme d’Ambrosio and Audi Sport ABT Schaeffler’s Daniel Abt. Abt had been the fastest driver to progress into Super Pole, but could only manage a 1:16.579 lap, leaving the German to start from fifth on the grid.

Speaking directly after claiming pole, Buemi hoped the results is the start of a strong final event of the year: “I just hope we can convert this good start into a good result, I’d really like to finish on a good note.”

The biggest, and potentially championship-changing news from regular qualifying was the exclusion of Vergne and Lotterer. The Techeetahs had set the fastest two times during the session, but were deemed by officials to have activated the 200kW full-power mode in their cars too early ahead of starting their fast laps.

As a result, their laps were removed from the standings and the pair have been relegated to the back of the grid.

Making a statement after the penalties were handed down, Techeetah Team Principal Mark Preston said that the team would move forward and focus on the race: “We came here to be super quick… it [the penalties] is incredibly disappointing but we’ll solider on and see how we get on in the race.”

The penalties are a blow not only to Vergne’s pursuit of the Drivers’ title, but also to Techeetah’s goal of claiming the Teams’ title as well. Teams’ championship rivals Audi Sport ABT Schaeffler have effectively been given a free kick ahead of the race, with Abt starting fifth and Lucas di Grassi eleventh on the grid.

Of some consolation to Vergne will be that the only driver capable of beating the Frenchman to the title – DS Virgin racing’s Sam Bird – could only muster 14th in qualifying. The Briton will therefore need to make a big move up the field to score points and eat into Vergne’s 23-point lead, as the Techeetah – clearly with pace around the New York track – attempts to chase him down.

Vergne will also have one car less than normal in front of him as he attempts to recover from the penalty. NIO driver Oliver Turvey missed qualifying – and will also miss the race – as a result of a wrist injury sustained when he hit the wall during the morning’s second practice session.

2018 ABB Formula E Qatar Airways New York ePrix – ‘Super Pole’ Qualifying Results
Pos Driver Team / Entry Time Gap
1. Sébastien Buemi Renault e.Dams 1:13.911
2. Mitch Evans Panasonic Jaguar Racing 1:14.465 + 0.554
3. Nicolas Prost Renault e.Dams 1:14.921 + 1.010
4. Jérôme d’Ambrosio Dragon Racing Penske 1:15.391 + 1.480
5. Daniel Abt Audi Sport ABT Schaeffler 1:16.579 + 2.668
2018 ABB Formula E Qatar Airways New York ePrix – Preliminary Qualifying Results
Pos Driver Team / Entry Time Gap*
6. Nelson Piquet Jr Panasonic Jaguar Racing 1:14.203 + 0.222
7. José María López Dragon Racing Penske 1:14.244 + 0.263
8. Maro Engel Venturi Formula E Team 1:14.292 + 0.311
9. Tom Dillmann Venturi Formula E Team 1:14.304 + 0.323
10. Nick Heidfeld Mahindra Racing 1:14.322 + 0.341
11. Lucas di Grassi Audi Sport ABT Schaeffler 1:14.325 + 0.344
12. António Félix da Costa MS&AD Andretti Formula E 1:14.382 + 0.401
13. Alex Lynn DS Virgin Racing Citroën 1:14.473 + 0.492
14. Sam Bird DS Virgin Racing Citroën 1:14.484 + 0.542
15. Luca Filippi NIO Formula E Team 1:14.523 + 0.844
16. Felix Rosenqvist Mahindra Racing 1:14.825 + 0.844
17. Stéphane Sarrazin MS&AD Andretti Formula E 1:26.036 + 12.055
Outside 107% Team / Entry Time Gap*
EXC. Jean-Éric Vergne Techeetah Renault excluded
EXC. André Lotterer Techeetah Renault excluded
WD. Oliver Turvey NIO Formula E Team injured

* Denotes gap to fastest Q1 qualifying lap time of 1:13.981 posted by Daniel Abt

Post-Qualifying Penalties:

  • Jean-Éric Vergne and André Lotterer had their qualifying times canceled and will start at the back of the grid for activating their 200kW power too early ahead of starting their flying laps

That second practice session was topped by Evans, who set a 1:13.207 qualifying simulation lap using his Jaguar’s full power mode, ahead of d’Ambrosio (1:13.594) and Bird (1:13.627).

Earlier, di Grassi was fastest in the opening practice session, the Brazilian’s 1:13.566 lap edging out Buemi (1:13.916), Evans (1:14.027) and Vergne (1:14.288). The session was interrupted twice by red flag periods, firstly when Mahindra’s Nick Heidfeld ran wide in Turn 12 – avoiding any damage but blocking the circuit. The second red flag was also caused by an incident at Turn 12, as the suspension on Jose Maria Lopez’s Dragon failed after striking the kerb.

Image via ABB FIA Formula E Championship

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Mitch Timms

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