Stoffel Vandoorne has claimed his – and the HWA Racelab team’s – first Formula E pole position in qualifying for the Hong Kong ePrix.
Setting a 1:11.580 lap to top Super Pole, Vandoorne backed up his pace in the group stages of qualifying, where the Belgian was also the fastest runner. Second on the grid is Oliver Rowland, the Brit finishing 0.323s slower than Vandoorne to continue a strong run of form throughout the day so far.
Edoardo Mortara set the third fastest time in Super Pole, but the Venturi driver will start in sixth, having received a three place penalty for speeding under red flag conditions during his qualifying group.
With Mortara’s penalty applied, Andre Lotterer will start from third for Techeetah, ahead of Gary Paffett in the second HWA. Paffett was in fact second to Vandoorne after the group stages were completed, but couldn’t quite match his team mate’s speed in Super Pole.
Lucas di Grassi will start fifth for Audi Sport ABT Schaeffler, the Brazilian’s Super Pole lap 1.453 seconds off that of Vandoorne, with Mortara rounding out the third row of the grid.
With wet running affecting both Super Pole and the group stages of qualifying, the championship front runners in the first group on track missed out on progressing further. Sam Bird is the highest starter of championship challengers, just missing Super Pole with the seventh fastest time. Sebastien Buemi will start eighth in the second Nissan e.Dams, while Felipe Massa (Venturi) and Robin Frijns (Envision Virgin Racing) rounding out the top ten.
Of the notable drivers outside of the top ten on the grid, reigning champion Jean Eric Vergne crossed the finishing line at the end of his qualifying lap travelling backwards – in fact the second time he has done so in Hong Kong. Unlike 2017, where the Frenchman managed to claim pole position, this time Vergne caused a red flag and was stripped of his fastest lap time. As a result, Vergne will start from 18th place.
For three of the other key championship contenders – including points leader Jerome d’Ambrosio – it was a horror qualifying session. Antonio Felix da Costa (BMW i Andretti), Pascal Wehrlein and d’Ambrosio (both driving for Mahindra) will round out the field in positions 20, 21 and 22 respectively.
Earlier, Rowland set the pace in opening practice for Nissan e.Dams. The Brit set a 1:09.283 lap to top the order, ahead of the DS Techeetah pair of Lotterer (1:09.653) and Vergne (1:09.744). Early-morning rain saw the session take place on a wet circuit, the result being lap times seven seconds slower than Sébastien Buemi’s lap record from last year despite the second-generation car being in use for 2019.
More rain between sessions saw lap times remain similar in Practice 2, where Envision Virgin Racing’s Frijns was fastest on a 1:09.221 lap. Rowland was again fast, clocking 1:09.478 to finish in second place, with Lotterer (1:09.499) in third. The wet conditions again saw drivers battling for control, while Mortara and Mitch Evans (Jaguar) both stopped on circuit with technical issues during the session.
The field is scheduled to take the green flag for the 50th Formula E race at 16:03 Hong Kong time this afternoon (UTC +08:00).
Image via FIA Formula E Championship