The first three positions on the Berlin ePrix starting grid will be filled by ex-Formula 1 drivers, with Nissan e.dams’ Sébastien Buemi beating HWA Racelab’s Stoffel Vandoorne and Audi Sport’s Lucas di Grassi to pole position.

It was Buemi’s second pole position of the 2018-19 season following the Swiss driver’s similar effort at the Santiago ePrix, although he is yet to finish any higher than fifth position in what is proving a tough campaign for the 2015-16 season champion in Nissan colours.

While Vandoorne was fastest overall in preliminary qualifying, it was Buemi who claimed top spot in the one-lap ‘Super Pole’ shootout. He posted the fastest first and third sector times on his flying lap to set a fastest time of 1:07.295.

The last man out on track, Vandoorne all but drifted around the ultra-long Turn 1 left-hander and still almost matched Buemi’s earlier first sector time. He was tidy in the second sector, but then threw away his shot at his second pole position of the season with a mistake at the final corner. Carrying too much speed into the turn, he had a torque-induced oversteer snap accelerating away to the start/finish line.

Di Grassi was the sole driver in his opening qualifying group to make it into the top-six shootout, but the Mexico ePrix winner’s flying lap was good enough to claim third on the grid at the Audi team’s home event. The Brazilian beat Vandoorne’s teammate Gary Paffett, Jaguar’s Alex Lynn and BMW Andretti driver Alexander Sims, who will take a five-place grid penalty for colliding with di Grassi at the preceding Monaco ePrix.

Defending Berlin ePrix winner Daniel Abt narrowly missed the ‘Super Pole’ cut at his home event thanks to Paffett’s late effort in the group qualifying stage. The German could, however, incur his own grid penalty while the Stewards investigate a breach of the sporting regulations by the Audi mechanics for allegedly working on his car within five minutes of the start of qualifying.

António Félix da Costa qualified eighth-fastest in the second BMW i Andretti entry, while current championship leader Jean-Éric Vergne could only manage ninth overall.

The Frenchman may take some comfort in the knowledge that Techeetah teammate André Lotterer – who trails him by just one point in the Drivers’ Championship standings – will start from the back row of the grid. Lotterer did not get to the start/finish line in time to attempt a flying lap at the end of his group session.

The Mahindra Racing duo of Jérôme d’Ambrosio and Pascal Wehrlein qualified tenth- and eleventh-fastest respectively, separated by barely two-hundredths of a second in preliminary qualifying.

It was a poor session for the Venturi team. Second-fastest in both Friday practice sessions, Edoardo Mortara slumped to sixteenth-fastest overall, while teammate Felipe Massa twice clipped the Turn 6 walls and was a poor nineteenth.

2019 Formula E Berlin ePrix – ‘Super Pole’ Qualifying Results
Driver Team / Entry Time Gap
1. Sébastien Buemi Nissan e.dams 1:07.295
2. Stoffel Vandoorne HWA Racelab 1:07.693 + 0.398
3. Lucas di Grassi Audi Sport Abt Schaeffler 1:07.719 + 0.424
4. Gary Paffett HWA Racelab 1:07.783 + 0.488
5. Alex Lynn Panasonic Jaguar Racing 1:07.839 + 0.544
6. Alexander Sims BMW i Andretti Motorsport 1:08.017 + 0.722
2019 Formula E Paris ePrix – Preliminary Qualifying Results
Driver Team / Entry Time Gap*
7. Daniel Abt Audi Sport Abt Schaeffler 1:07.953 + 0.334
8. António Félix da Costa BMW i Andretti Motorsport 1:08.013 + 0.394
9. Jean-Éric Vergne DS Techeetah 1:08.046 + 0.427
10. Jérôme d’Ambrosio Mahindra Racing 1:08.065 + 0.446
11. Pascal Wehrlein Mahindra Racing 1:08.086 + 0.467
12. Oliver Rowland Nissan e.dams 1:08.119 + 0.500
13. Sam Bird Envision Virgin Racing 1:08.182 + 0.563
14. Oliver Turvey NIO Formula E Team 1:08.203 + 0.584
15. Maximilian Günther Geox Dragon Racing 1:08.218 + 0.599
16. Edoardo Mortara Venturi Formula E Team 1:08.223 + 0.604
17. Tom Dillmann NIO Formula E Team 1:08.263 + 0.644
18. Mitch Evans Panasonic Jaguar Racing 1:08.314 + 0.695
19. Felipe Massa Venturi Formula E Team 1:08.348 + 0.729
20. José María López Geox Dragon Racing 1:08.720 + 1.101
21. Robin Frijns Envision Virgin Racing 1:08.919 + 1.300
22. André Lotterer DS Techeetah 1:12.568 + 4.949

*Denotes gap to fastest preliminary qualifying time of 1:07.619 posted by Stoffel Vandoorne

Post-Qualifying Penalties:

  • Alexander Sims will serve a five-place grid penalty for causing an avoidable collision with Lucas di Grassi at the Monaco ePrix.
  • Robin Frijns will serve a five-place grid penalty at the Berlin ePrix for causing an avoidable collision with Alexander Sims.

Ironically it was Lotterer who led the charge in practice for the Berlin ePrix, setting a new outright lap record of 1:07.401 top top Friday afternoon’s second session.

Lotterer’s Techeetah led a top five filled by drivers from five different teams. Edoardo Mortara claimed second for Venturi, 0.285 seconds back with BMW i Andretti’s Alexander Sims in third, 0.314 seconds behind Lotterer. Nissan e.Dams were represented by former Berlin winner Sébastien Buemi in fourth place (+0.372), while the final place in the top five was filled by Jaguar’s Mitch Evans (+0.487).

The second half of the top ten was mostly filled by the teammates of the top five. Felipe Massa ended the session sixth in the second Venturi, António Félix da Costa was seventh in the second BMW, ahead of Oliver Rowland (Nissan e.Dams) and Alex Lynn (Jaguar). Not until Audi Sport ABT Schaeffler’s Daniel Abt in tenth place did a different team appear in the order.

The defending Berlin winner, Lucas di Grassi, ended the session in thirteenth, while reigning champion – and current championship leader – Jean-Éric Vergne could only manage seventeenth on the timesheets.

Earlier, Evans topped the opening practice session with a 1:08.162, eclipsing the previous lap record of 1:09.438, set by Vergne in the first-generation Formula E Car last year. Mortara (+0.066) was second in the order, followed by Stoffel Vandoorne (+0.115) for HWA Racelab, Buemi (+0.130) and Lynn (+0.238) rounded out the top five, as 19 of the 22 drivers ended within a second of the lead. The top 20 in the session all clocked times under the previous lap record.

Across both sessions, many drivers were seen struggling to find the limit of grip on the unique concrete of the Berlin Tempelhof Airport apron where the circuit is constructed, with several locking brakes and running off the circuit as a result. With the concrete also known to be highly abrasive, tyre life and management is poised to be a key feature of Saturday’s race.

Images via ABB FIA Formula E Championship

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Mitch Timms

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