Championship leader António Félix da Costa has made the best possible start to Formula E’s Season 6 finale by claiming pole position for the first race in Berlin.
The Portuguese driver set at 1:06.799 Super Pole lap around the Berlin Tempelhof Airport circuit – being run in the reverse direction to normal for the first two races of six to be run in Berlin – and will start alongside his DS Techeetah team mate Jean-Éric Vergne.
On the second row André Lotterer (Porsche, +0.436s) and Sébastien Buemi (Nissan e.Dams, +0.449) will start second and third, while Mercedes’ Nyck de Vries (+0.530) and Mahindra’s Jérôme d’Ambrosio (+0.572) rounded out the six cars in a competitive Super Pole session.
Speaking after taking pole, da Costa detailed his – and DS Techeetah’s focus – to aim for not only pole position and race wins, but both the Drivers’ and Teams’ championships now that the 2019-20 season has resumed: “The first time I drove the car again I felt a little out of sync but after a few laps it all just came back naturally. From then on, we just got our foot down and got on with our work. This team is amazing and they’ll do whatever it takes at all hours to win. The result is clear to see with the one-two in qualifying for the team.”
Vergne, while admitting he couldn’t match his teammate during the session, was pleased with the progress made in his car across the day’s two practice sessions and qualifying. Amazingly, this was the reigning champion’s first Super Pole appearance of the season, something the Frenchman hopes to capitalise on given his race pace has been stronger:
“António did a good lap and congratulations to him,” said Vergne. “Second is a very good result for me – it’s the first time I’ve been in Super Pole this year. I was far away in the practice sessions and I’m still having a lot of difficulties with the brakes. The pace has come back in qualifying, which I’ve missed so far, and the pace in the races has been stronger, so I’m expecting a good race this afternoon.”
The group stages of qualifying were a tight affair, with several drivers missing out on Super Pole by the slimmest of margins. Envision Virgin Racing’s Sam Bird was chief among this group, falling just 0.004 seconds shy of progressing and will start from seventh on the grid. Barely 0.029 seconds behind in eighth was Oliver Rowland in the second Nissan e.Dams, however a 20-place grid penalty for replacing his power unit prior to the start of the day’s running will see Rowland start at the rear of the grid.
Da Costa’s closest championship rival Mitch Evans set the ninth fastest time, 0.067 seconds off the Super Pole cut-off. Felipe Massa rounded out the top ten for Venturi.
Drivers of note outside the top ten include both BMW i Andretti cars of Alexander Sims and Maximilian Günther. Both drivers, who sit third and fourth in the Drivers’ standings respectively, struggled in qualifying. Günther will start from 12th and Sims 16th on the grid once Rowland’s penalty is applied. Audi Sport ABT Schaeffler driver Lucas di Grassi – the winner in Berlin last season – could only manage a time good enough for 21st, while his former teammate Daniel Abt will start alongside in his first race for NIO 333 having banked the 22nd fastest lap.
Alex Lynn fared the best of the three new or returning drivers in the field, as the former Jaguar – now Mahindra – driver set the 12th best time. Two places behind was René Rast, the Audi factory driver banking a solid effort in his first Formula E qualifying session. The other debutant, GEOX Dragon’s Sérgio Sette Câmara was 1.506 seconds off da Costa’s leading pace, and ended qualifying in 23rd – ahead of only James Calado in the second Jaguar.
|2020 FIA Formula E Championship Berlin ePrix (1) – ‘Super Pole’ Qualifying Results|
|Driver||Team / Entry||Time||Gap|
|1.||António Félix da Costa||DS Techeetah||1:06.799|
|2.||Jean-Éric Vergne||DS Techeetah||1:07.121||+ 0.322|
|3.||André Lotterer||TAG Heuer Porsche Formula E Team||1:07.235||+ 0.436|
|4.||Sébastien Buemi||Nissan e.dams||1:07.248||+ 0.449|
|5.||Nyck de Vries||Mercedes-Benz EQ Formula E Team||1:07.302||+ 0.503|
|6.||Jérôme d’Ambrosio||Mahindra Racing||1:07.371||+ 0.572|
|2020 FIA Formula E Championship Berlin ePrix (1) – Preliminary Qualifying Results|
|Driver||Team / Entry||Time||Gap*|
|7.||Sam Bird||Envision Virgin Racing||1:07.492||+ 0.370|
|8.||Oliver Rowland||Nissan e.dams||1:07.521||+ 0.399|
|9.||Mitch Evans||Panasonic Jaguar Racing||1:07.555||+ 0.433|
|10.||Felipe Massa||ROKiT Venturi Racing||1:07.563||+ 0.441|
|11.||Robin Frijns||Envision Virgin Racing||1:07.581||+ 0.459|
|12.||Alex Lynn||Mahindra Racing||1:07.646||+ 0.524|
|13.||Maximilian Günther||BMW i Andretti Motorsport||1:07.685||+ 0.563|
|14.||René Rast||Audi Sport ABT Schaeffler||1:07.777||+ 0.655|
|15.||Edoardo Mortara||ROKiT Venturi Racing||1:07.826||+ 0.704|
|16.||Stoffel Vandoorne||Mercedes-Benz EQ Formula E Team||1:07.993||+ 0.871|
|17.||Alexander Sims||BMW i Andretti Motorsport||1:07.996||+ 0.874|
|18.||Neel Jani||TAG Heuer Porsche Formula E Team||1:08.014||+ 0.892|
|19.||Oliver Turvey||NIO 333 FE Team||1:08.089||+ 0.967|
|20.||Nico Müller||GEOX Dragon||1:08.118||+ 0.996|
|21.||Lucas di Grassi||Audi Sport ABT Schaeffler||1:08.136||+ 1.014|
|22.||Daniel Abt||NIO 333 FE Team||1:08.554||+ 1.432|
|23.||Sérgio Sette Câmara||GEOX Dragon||1:08.628||+ 1.506|
|24.||James Calado||Panasonic Jaguar Racing||1:10.194||+ 3.072|
*Denotes gap to fastest preliminary qualifying time of 1:07.122 set by António Félix da Costa
- Three bonus points are awarded to the driver (António Félix da Costa) and their corresponding team (DS Techeetah) who claims pole position.
- A bonus point is awarded to the driver (António Félix da Costa) and their corresponding team (DS Techeetah) who is the fastest driver in the group stages of qualifying.
- Oliver Rowland received a 60-place grid penalty for changes to his gearbox, inverter and MCU. For being unable to take the full grid drop (by only losing sixteen places on the grid), will serve an additional 10 seconds stop and go penalty at the race.
- James Calado received a 60-place grid penalty for changes to his battery, inverter and MCU. For being unable to take the full grid drop, he will serve an additional 10 seconds stop and go penalty at the race.
Earlier, Rowland topped the time sheets in Formula E’s first on track session in over five months, setting the fastest time in opening practice. Rowland’s 1:07.832 lap moved him 0.236 seconds ahead of Bird, who had led most of the 45-minute session. Vergne ended the session in third place, 0.297 seconds behind Rowland, with Nico Müller (GEOX Dragon, +0.336s) and d’Ambrosio (+0.387s) filling the top five. The session was ended early by a late red flag, prompted by Calado’s Jaguar stopping on circuit with a powertrain issue.
De Vries was fastest in the 30-minute second practice session, lowering the benchmark to 1:06.846. Second-fastest was da Costa, just 0.076 seconds slower with Günther in third place, a further 0.083 seconds further back. d’Ambrosio and Buemi completed the top five, as 16 drivers ended the session within one second of de Vries’ time. Calado struck further technical issues, failing to set a lap time as his team scrambled to replace the Jaguar’s battery pack.
Images via ABB FIA Formula E Championship
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