All 22 drivers seemed to be pushing extra hard today to show what they could do and if their car could be the one starting on top but it is Oliver Rowland who will start P1 for the Sanya E-Prix.
As per usual, we start the qualifying session where the teams and drivers are split into four groups depending on their championship standing. For Group 1 we have Sam Bird, Lucas Di Grassi, Edoardo Mortara, Jerome D’Ambrosio and Antonio Felix Da Costa. All cars were trying their hardest to set times worthy of gaining a place into Super Pole. Bird, unfortunately, could not find the pace and finished group 1 in 6th but through the rest of the groups putting in their times, Bird will start 16th for the Sanya E-Prix. Di Grassi had a lock up at Turn 5 which cost him time and he will start 10th. For Group 1, it was Da Costa who set the pace maker of a 1.07:951.
Group 2 consisted of Robin Frijns, Andre Lotterer, Pascal Wehrlein, Mitch Evans and Daniel Abt. Mitch Evans had been putting in a good performance all day during practice sessions but only managed to put himself into 20th place. It was Lotterer and Wehrlein out of Group 2 that managed to slot themselves into a contention for super pole with Lotterer going 3rd and Wehrlein stepping into 5th but things were continuously changing throughout the session.
Within Group 3, we saw Oliver Rowland, Sebastian Buemi, Oliver Turvey, Felipe Massa, Jean Eric Vergne and Alexander Sims. Things were looking up for Vergne as he managed to put in a flying lap and put himself into 5th place and in with a chance of taking pole, pushing out others from Group 2. Nissan’s day just kept getting better as Rowland managed to land himself in 4th place and a ticket into Super Pole but it was Sebastian Buemi who was able to land pole position and a hopeful chance of winning Julius Bar Pole Position from Super Pole with a 1.07:670. Sims also put himself through in P3.
Finally, we saw Group 4 with Nelson Piquet Jr, Stoffel Vandoorne, Felipe Nasr, Gary Paffett, Tom Dillmann and Jose Maria Lopez. Unfortunately, Group 4 seemed to really struggle with grip and could not seem to find the pace anywhere near the top sitters with Piquet starting last on the grid and Paffett taking 21st place. Vandoorne managed to do a little better and put himself into 13th but no one in Group 4 could smell Super Pole and will have lots to do to make up places in the E-Prix.
So, for Super Pole, we had Abt, Vergne, Rowland, Da Costa, Buemi and Sims, landing the top 6 places to give them a chance to fight for Julius Bar Pole Position. We saw Abt out first and he threw his car round at Turn 1 but did keep his lap fairly clean. Abt had a little fight with the car round Turn 10 but he set a very respectable 1.08:331 for the other drivers to try and beat. Next, we saw Vergne, who was giving everything he had and he did keep his lap very tidy around the corners, making sure he had no brake issues after his complications in FP but he was able to control the car extremely well and beat Abt’s time by setting a 1.08:045. Rowland was on track next and he started off very strong around Turns 1, 2 and 3. Rowland did seem a little down on Vergne’s pace and also had a little wobble when coming round the last corner but still managed to beat Vergne’s time with a 1.07.945.
Before we saw Da Costa take to the circuit, we saw Sims out of his car before he could complete a lap in Super Pole. It turned out there was an issue with Sims’ car and he would have to settle for 6th place. Da Costa had a little slide at Turn 1 but kept everything under control and managed to take 3rd place to start the race from. Last but not least, we had Buemi go out and he started very good and tidy but it was not meant to be and Buemi ploughed his nose into Turn 3 in an identical incident from what he did earlier in the day in FP2.
It seems to be a very positive day for Rowland with topping the timing chart of FP1 and now gaining his first ever Pole Position in his rookie season of Formula E. Rowland had a little mistake in the previous race in Hong Kong where he was clipped at the back by Bird, causing him to hit his pit limiter button and take him out of the lead of the race so it seems that Rowland has gone away and done some serious thinking but come back and brought everything he has got to prove that he can be number one.
Don’t forget to check back to see what happens during the E-Prix in Sanya later on today.
Feature Image Credit: ABB FIA Formula E Website