Mercedes-EQ driver Stoffel Vandoorne has secured his third Formula E pole position in five races following a highly competitive qualifying session.
With season seven of FIA Formula E now well underway and the races coming thick and fast, the championship once again made history. For the very first time, the all-electric racing series arrived at a permanent race track for an intriguing double-header weekend.
Stoffel Vandoorne arrived in Valencia in fine form having stormed to victory in Rome, however for his Mercedes teammate Nyck de Vries the weekends prospects would be potentially marred by a five place grid penalty for his collision in Rome.
As usual the championship leaders were the first drivers out in group one. Both Mercedes racers went out first attempting an alternate strategy by embarking on both a warm-up lap and an outlap. It was De Vries who set the benchmark time of 1:26.9 but found himself quickly beaten by Mercedes teammate Stoffel Vandoorne who moved seven hundreds clear of the Dutchman.
Both Jaguar drivers appeared to struggle, setting qualifying times that would see both Evans and Bird starting towards the rear of the grid. Speaking after the session, Bird expressed his disappointment about the session’s results and the need for improvement before the afternoon’s race.
Meanwhile, both Vergne and Da Costa featured in the highly competitive second group with both drivers hoping to enter the battle for the championship. Out of the group’s six drivers, only Rowland opted for a prep lap. For the Biritish driver, this proved to be the right decision for the British driver with Rowland, Da Costa, and Sims all making it into superpole contention. However, there was disappointment for two-time Formula E champion Jean-Eric Vergne who found himself starting further down the grid.
In the second half of qualifying, all six drivers in group three opted for the alternate qualifying strategy. This decision proved to be the desirable choice for Buemi and Gunther who made it comfortably into contention for superpole. But for Di Grassi, Muller and Turvey, all three appeared to struggle with the challenges posed by the Valencia circuit and found themselves at the bottom of the qualifying pack.
In the final group of qualifying, Mahindra’s Alex Lynn set the fastest time of anyone after an impressively quick lap. However Porsche’s Andre Lotterer and Venturi’s Norman Nato missed out on the crucial superpole positions by less than a tenth.
BATTLE FOR SUPERPOLE
The first driver out in Superpole, De Vries laid down an impressive gauntlet, showing the full extent of the capabilities of the Mercedes car. Nissan racer Sebastian Buemi found himself unable to meet De Vries benchmark time after losing significant time in the challenging third sector.
However, reigning champion Da Costa soon rose to the challenge, putting together a clean lap that would prove difficult to match for those following him, beating the time set by De Vries by over two tenths. Gunther (the next driver out) pushed both the track and the capabilities of his BMW to their limits but could only manage to challenge the time set by Buemi.
Unsurprisingly, Da Costa’s closest challenge emerged from Rome victor Stoffel Vandoorne. With two purple sectors in sections two and three, Vandoorne set Valencia on fire, using every inch of the track to move into contention for pole. Alex Lynn, who despite showing pace in the earlier stages of qualifying, could only manage to claw his way to fifth – granting Vandoorne another Formula E pole position.
Can Vandoorne translate this pole position into victory at Valencia? Follow Overtake Motorsport for coverage of this afternoon’s race.
S. Vandoorne Mercedes-EQ Formula E Team
A.F Da Costa DS Techeetah
N. De Vries Mercedes-EQ Formula E Team
M. Guenther BMW I Andretti Motorsport
A. Lynn Mahindra Racing
S. Buemi Nissan E Dams
A. Lotterer Tag Heuer Porsche Formula E Team
N. Nato ROKIT Venturi Racing
O. Rowland Nissan E Dams
P. Wehrlein Tag Heuer Porsche Formula E Team
Featured Image Credit: @MercedesEQFE Twitter