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Pole for di Grassi closes gap in championship

Lucas di Grassi set a strong pole position for Formula E’s first race in Montreal, taking three points out of Sebastien Buemi’s title advantage and closing the gap to seven. Buemi qualified second but will take a ten place grid penalty, promoting Stéphane Sarrazin to the front row.

Group one had Daniel Abt (Abt Schaeffler), Jerome D’Ambrosio (FF Dragon Racing), Sam Bird (DS Virgin Racing), Nelson Piquet Jr (Nextev NIO) and Loic Duval (FF Dragon Racing). All drivers started on their 170kW laps before going for the 200kW attempt.

Piquet locked up in his 200kW attempt, and managed to post a 1:26.165s, so he was overtaken by Bird, Abt and Duval, leaving the Frenchman on top of the standings after the first group, with a 1:23.999s.

Group two sent out on track Sarrazin (Techeetah), Nico Prost (e.Dams Renault) Antonio Félix Da Costa (MS Amlin Andretti), Robin Frijns (MS Amlin Andretti) and José María López (DS Virgin Racing).

All drivers waited for the last seconds to go for their full-throttle laps. Da Costa struggled with some understeer in his MS Amlin Andretti and only managed to be eight tenths off Duval. However, Sarrazin did a quick lap and jumped to the top with a 1:23.138s.

DS Virgin Racing drivers López and Bird struggled with their 200kW attempts and only took seventh and eighth respectively after half of the field went out. This meant Bird had lost his last chances of winning the title as he needed to set pole position to keep them alive.

The famous ‘Group of Death’ came up third in the order, including the other three title candidates: Buemi (e.Dams Renault), Felix Rosenqvist (Mahindra Racing), di Grassi (Abt Schaeffler), Mitch Evans (Panasonic Jaguar Racing) and Jean-Eric Vergne (Techeetah).

Vergne climbed up to third, just 0.265s behind Sarrazin. Buemi recovered his confidence after his heavy crash in FP2 and climbed up to the top of the standings with 1:23.053. But di Grassi gave his counter-attack and beat the Swiss’ lap, moving up to the lead with a 1:23.026s. Meanwhile, Rosenqvist jumped up to fourth.

The fourth and final group had both Venturi Grand Prix drivers Tom Dillmann and Maro Engel, joined by Nick Heidfeld (Mahindra Racing), Adam Carroll (Panasonic Jaguar Racing) and Oliver Turvey (Nextev NIO).

Carroll, Turvey and Dillman were the quickest of these last five drivers, taking eight, ninth and tenth respectively. This allowed di Grassi, Buemi, Sarrazin, Rosenqvist and Prost to Super Pole.

Therefore, Prost was the first driver to go for his Super Pole lap: the Frenchman clocked a 1:23.330s. Rosenqvist followed him on track, but struggled to catch him in Sector 1, and only managed to set a 1:24.351s.

Sarrazin did a solid job to beat both rivals and move up to the lead, with a 1:23.179s. Only Buemi and di Grassi were left. The Swiss driver managed to take first place with a 1:23.065s, despite his ten place grid penalty for changing battery after his FP2 crash.

It was all up to di Grassi, who did a master-class third sector and set a great pole position, with a 1:22.869s. He was followed by Buemi, Sarrazin, Prost and Rosenqvist. Vergne, Evans, Carroll, Turvey and Dillmann rounded up the top ten for race one.

Q

Images courtesy of FIA Formula E Media

About Topher Smith
Topher is an experienced and passionate Motorsport journalist with Formula E, Formula 1, GP2/F2, GP3 and IndyCar all on his resume. When he isn't at the trackside you can find him furthering his own capabilities and knowledge through his endless search for original ideas and material. Also plays league pool.