It was a thrilling qualifying session full of surprises: Instead of Lucas di Grassi it was Daniel Abt who took part in the super pole shootout alongside both Mahindra drivers, and it was Jean-Eric Vergne who eventually claimed the top spot just a hair’s breadth ahead of Sebastien Buemi.
In the first qualifying group, di Grassi led the way around the track and was the first to complete his warm-up laps, with Oliver Turvey hot on his heels. The Abt driver’s power lap was a quick 58.183, but in the process he made a small mistake, hitting the curbs heavily. When Turvey crossed the line just afterwards, he jumped to the top spot with a 58.118. Stephane Sarrazin, who had entered the track only late in the session, finished in third place, half a second off the pace of the others but still ahead of Robin Frijns.
All drivers of the second qualifying group left the pits immediately after the lights had gone green, with Nicolas Prost leading the way. With the warm-up lap done, Prost pushed and did an overall fastest sector, however, eventually his lap of 58.028 was not good enough to keep the top spot: Abt beat the Frenchman by a hair’s breadth, out-qualifying team mate Di Grassi for the first time in this season. However, his joy did not last long: his lap was bettered by Vergne. The DS Virgin driver posted the fastest laptime of the entire day up to that point, a 57.798. Sam Bird took the provisional third place, and Rene Rast slotted into the last spot behind all participants of group 1.
Jerome d’Ambrosio opened the third group with a laptime of 58.501, placing himself between di Grassi and Sarrazin. Nelson Piquet Jr. pushed hard and, with squealing tyres and barely under control, dashed into provisional fourth place. However, best of group 3 was Nick Heidfeld. While all eyes were on Piquet Jr., the German did an impressive lap unseen by the cameras and jumped up to second place just over a tenth slower than Vergne. Simona de Silvestro and Mike Conway ended their qualifying behind d’Ambrosio in tenth and eleventh position.
The final qualifying group, it was Buemi who dashed out onto the track first. Buemi’s flying lap began promising with a purple first sector, and continued with another absolute best sector to eventually put the Renault e.dams car on first place with a laptime of 57.322. Duval behind him slotted into tenth place, and Senna surprised by putting his Mahindra car in second place, edging past Vergne by just one hundredth of a second. Ma struggled and remained at the bottom of the field.
The Top 5 of Buemi, Senna, Vergne, Heidfeld, and Abt entered the super pole shootout. Daniel Abt was the first man to go for the pole position, and he set the benchmark with a time of 57.852. Nick Heidfeld was the next one to gun for a pole position on home soil. His first sector was faster than Abt’s but only by a hair’s breath, but he made a mistake due to damaging his suspension in the second sector and was eventually 1.2 seconds off his countryman’s time.
Next up was Vergne: The Frenchman was slower than Abt in the first sector, but gained a couple of hundredths afterwards. He claimed provisional pole position by half a tenth of a second; however, he almost came together with Bruno Senna exiting the pit lane. Senna was already one tenth of a second off Vergne’s pace after the scary moment, and failed to make it come together. The Brazilian settled into third place due an absolute best final sector, outqualifying his team mate Heidfeld. Last but not least, it was Buemi’s turn: The Renault e.dams driver was already slower than Vergne in the first sector, and while he fought teeth and claws to beat the Frenchman, it was eventually the number two that lit up next to his name.
Vergne takes his first pole position of the season with a lap of 57.881 seconds, only one and a half hundredths of a second faster than Buemi. Daniel Abt lined up in third place alongside Senna, the latter scoring his best Formula E qualifying result. Heidfeld will start today’s race from fifth place ahead of Prost, Turvey, di Grassi, D’Ambrosio, and de Silvestro.