Many changes were made during qualifying and super pole to see who could get that all important fastest time under 1 minute. Overall, season newcomer Pascal Wehrlein was the quickest man on track, putting Mahindra Racing back in the limelight.
As we know, Formula E qualifying is split into four groups. Groups 1 and 2 made op of the top 10 in the championship and then groups 3 and 4 are made up of the remaining 12, 6 in each group. For Group 1, we had Sam Bird, Robin Frijns, Jerome D’Ambrosio, Antonio Felix Da Costa and Jean-Eric Vergne. The cars decided to wait and let half of the group 1 time to disappear until they began to head out onto track. Bird was the first man out on track with 2 minutes and 40 seconds remaining and by 1 minute 25 seconds, all five cars were flying out. Things were going according to plan until championship leader, Bird, had a disaster and came to a halt with only 1 minute and 10 seconds remaining, meaning he will start the race at the back of the grid. There was slight confusion between Frijns and D’Ambrosio in between turns 8 and 9 where the Mexico E-Prix Attack Mode resides but overall, it was Da Costa who set the pace with a 59:778 in qualifying group 1.
After Q1, Bird spoke to Nicki Sheilds, Pit Lane reporter to explain what happened, “We had a good FP2, we felt like the speed was there, I had traffic in the third sector but we felt like we were on for super pole today but unfortunately, we had an issue as soon as pretty much exiting the pits at turn two, we believe we know what it is, we feel like a major component on the rear of the car has broken or failed”. Bird was then asked if he felt he could make up some ground in the race, reminiscing on when Lucas DiGrassi went from 15th to 1st one year but Bird explained he did not have the opportunity of changing cars like they used to, “honestly, a point would be a miracle”.
Group 2 consisted of Alexander Sims, Mitch Evans, Daniel Abt, Andre Lotterer and Pascal Wehrlein. The second group kept it nice and tidy around the track and Sims was only 0.004 down from his BMW i Andretti teammate which put him into 2nd place but that was very quickly squashed by rookie sensation, Wehrlein, who put in a fantastic 59:604, going quickest and securing his place in his second super pole of Formula E.
Next came group 3 with Jose Maria Lopez, Lucas DiGrassi, Oliver Turvey, Oliver Rowland, Sebastian Buemi and Edoardo Mortara. Immediately, Mortara put in a great lap which pushed Frijns out of super pole meaning both Envision Virgin Racing boys were having bad luck in Mexico. Turvey was looking good but unfortunately had a big lock up which meant he put himself in the shaky 6th place but got pushed out by DiGrassi moments later. Buemi slotted himself into 4th place meaning Vergne would also miss out on super pole but the biggest surprise of group 3 was season newcomer, Rowland, who put in a superb 59:593.
Finally, we had group 4 which consisted of Nelson Piquet, Stoffel Vandoorne, Felipe Nasr, Tom Dillmann, Gary Paffet and Felipe Massa. Massa seemed to turn up the heat this time and put himself 3rd, meaning his first appearance in super pole. Vandoorne was looking good but was noticeably wrestling with the car and could only manage 16th but fell down to 20th due to other drivers putting in their times. Piquet put in the fastest sector 1 of anyone in qualifying but the rest of his lap did not go to place and he finished in 11th.
We then had our sensational super pole 6 with Rowland, Wehrlein, Massa, DiGrassi, Buemi and Da Costa. As super pole works backwards, Da Costa was out first and kept it neat and tidy round track, slight oversteer but a good first sector and set a time of 59:819. Buemi also kept t very neat but could not match Da Costa and slotted in 2nd. DiGrassi came roaring in and put himself up in the first and second sector, meaning he finished with a 59:653 and provisional pole. Massa was having a good lap and was very quick which put himself 2nd, behind DiGrassi earning lots of praise from his team. Wehrlein made things look easy on track by going very smooth and he had a fabulous final sector which gave his a storming time of 59:347, taking provisional pole away from DiGrassi. Rowland had done a fantastic job in qualifying and was still looking quick in super pole but due to a lock up near the chicane, Rowland finished 4th meaning the Julius Bar Pole Position went to Wehrlein of the Manhindra Racing team.
Speaking to Sheilds after Super pole, Wehrlein told the rest of the top 6 were super impressed with his lap and how he was millimetres away from the wall, “that’s how you have to do it, not touching the wall but being as close as possible”. Wehrlein also went on to say how he felt after that lap, “the lap was great. I have to thank my team, you know, the support and the car they are giving me is amazing”.
Check back later for a rundown of the Mexico E-Prix on Overtake Motorsport.
Feature Image Credit: Mahindra Racing Twitter Media