Mahindra’s Pascal Wehrlein looked like becoming the first driver to claim two pole positions in the 2018-19 Formula E Championship season after setting the fastest ‘Super Pole’ lap for the Paris ePrix, only for he and championship leading teammate Jérôme d’Ambrosio to be excluded for a tyre pressure violation.

Oliver Rowland therefore became the season’s first two-time pole-winner by default – the Briton having won qualifying outright for the Sanya ePrix – and will lead an all-Nissan e.dams front row alongside teammate Sébastien Buemi.

Having been second-fastest following the group stages of qualifying behind Rowland, Wehrlein set a 1:00.383 lap in ‘Super Pole’ which withstood Rowland’s own flying lap to hand the German what appeared to be his second Formula E pole, following his earlier pole in February’s Mexico City event. Rowland’s own lap was only 0.152 seconds slower than Wehrlein and still good enough for a provisional second on the grid, with teammate Buemi in third, 0.385 seconds off pole.

Robin Frijns was fourth-fastest for Envsion Virgin Racing in both in both group qualifying and Super Pole – the Dutchman will now start from third – while Felipe Massa jumped up one position from sixth-fastest in the group stages to claim fifth, with the Venturi driver posting a 1:01.217 in what is becoming a steadily improving rookie season for the Formula 1 veteran. Championship leader d’Ambrosio was the slowest driver in the ‘Super Pole’ session, but like Wehrlein he would later fall afoul of the FIA Stewards’ scrutineering efforts.

The group qualifying stages saw all but one of the 22-car field lap to within one rounded second of Rowland’s provisionally quickest time in an incredibly tight session, meaning a number of big name drivers missed out on the one-lap shootout for pole by mere fractions.

Headlining the group was GEOX Dragon’s Maximilian Günther – who missed out by just 0.01 seconds – ahead of Techeetah’s Andre Lotterer, with the top-ten drivers rounded out by the Audi Sport ABT Schaeffler pair of Daniel Abt and Lucas di Grassi.

Tom Dillmann will start eleventh for NIO in his home ePrix, ahead of Edoardo Mortara’s Venturi and Oliver Turvey’s NIO.

Reigning champion and last year’s Paris ePrix victor Jean-Éric Vergne leads a trio of championship contenders on the grid from 14th place – Sam Bird could only manage 15th position from his first run after a crash during the first practice session, while BMW i Andretti’s António Félix da Costa will line up 16th on the grid.

The final few rows are led by a handful of British drivers, with Alex Lynn (Jaguar Racing), Alexander Sims (BMW i Andretti) and Gary Paffett (HWA Racelab) sitting in positions 17, 18 and 19 respectively, ahead of the winner of the last event in Rome, Mitch Evans.

HWA’s Stoffel Vandoorne starts 21st, 1.021 seconds off the pace, while José María López ran down an escape road following a mistake on his fast lap. The error left the Argentinian to bank a lap 7.044 seconds off the pace, and outside the 107% cut-off time to be classified in qualifying – although permission has been granted by the Stewards of the meeting for the former WTCC title-winner to start the race.

With the top four drivers on the adjusted starting grid yet to win a race this season, there is a strong possibility of an eighth different race-winner being crowned from as many events this season. Should that winner be either of the two Nissan e.Dams drivers, it would also mean an eight different winning team from the opening eight events of the championship.

2019 Formula E Paris ePrix – ‘Super Pole’ Qualifying Results
Driver Team / Entry Time Gap
1. Oliver Rowland Nissan e.dams 1:00.535
2. Sébastien Buemi Nissan e.dams 1:00.738 + 0.233
3. Robin Frijns Envision Virgin Racing 1:00.793 + 0.258
4. Felipe Massa Venturi Formula E Team 1:01.217 + 0.682
EXC. Pascal Wehrlein Mahindra Racing excluded
EXC. Jérôme d’Ambrosio Mahindra Racing excluded
2019 Formula E Paris ePrix – Preliminary Qualifying Results
5. Maximilian Günther Geox Dragon Racing 1:00.719 + 0.269
6. André Lotterer DS Techeetah 1:00.738 + 0.288
7. Daniel Abt Audi Sport Abt Schaeffler 1:00.739 + 0.289
8. Lucas di Grassi Audi Sport Abt Schaeffler 1:00.761 + 0.311
9. Tom Dillmann NIO Formula E Team 1:00.784 + 0.334
10. Edoardo Mortara Venturi Formula E Team 1:00.801 + 0.351
11. Oliver Turvey NIO Formula E Team 1:00.876 + 0.426
12. Jean-Éric Vergne DS Techeetah 1:00.886 + 0.436
13. Sam Bird Envision Virgin Racing 1:00.928 + 0.478
14. António Félix da Costa BMW i Andretti Motorsport 1:00.952 + 0.502
15. Alex Lynn Panasonic Jaguar Racing 1:01.012 + 0.562
16. Alexander Sims BMW i Andretti Motorsport 1:01.037 + 0.587
17. Gary Paffett HWA Racelab 1:01.135 + 0.685
18. Mitch Evans Panasonic Jaguar Racing 1:01.243 + 0.793
19. Stoffel Vandoorne HWA Racelab 1:01.471 + 1.021
Outside 107% Team / Entry Time Gap*
DNQ. José María López Geox Dragon Racing 1:07.494 + 7.044

*Denotes gap to fastest preliminary qualifying time of 1:00.450 posted by Oliver Rowland

Post-Qualifying Penalties:

  • Pascal Wehrlein and Jérôme d’Ambrosio were excluded from qualifying due to “non-respect of the minimum tyre pressure” rule. Both drivers will start from the back row of the grid.

Earlier, Lotterer was fastest in a wet opening practice session, the Techeetah driver setting a 1:10.667 lap to lead the Nissan pair of Buemi (+0.233) and Rowland (+0.255). The weather conditions led to numerous incidents on track; Verge spun down an escape road, di Grassi came to grief, and the both Envision Virgin Racing drivers caused red flags. Initially, Bird made contact with Buemi, damaging the Briton’s rear wing, followed by Frijns hitting the barriers and bringing out the first halt to the session. The running resumed, only for Bird to also find the fence and prompt a second red flag period, bringing the session to a premature end.

Mitch Evans topped a much drier Practice 2, the Kiwi’s 1:00.226 beating di Grassi’s time from the equivalent session in 2018 to set a new unofficial lap record. Rowland’s form continued as the Nissan e.Dams driver set the second fastest time (+0.103), ahead of di Grassi himself in third (+0.142). The Virgin Racing team managed to repair Frijns’ car in time for the session – the Dutchman ending 16th on the timesheets – but were unable to complete the work on Bird’s, the Briton forced to watch the session from the garage.

Images via ABB FIA Formula E Championship

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Mitch Timms

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