Felix Rosenqvist secured his fourth pole position in Formula E in Hong Kong, denying Mitch Evans and Panasonic Jaguar Racing their maiden pole position by a slender 0.054s, while super rookie Edoardo Mortara will start his second series race from third.
New qualifying rules came into effect on day two of the Hong Kong E-Prix, where instead of the familiar lottery to decide groups, the running order is now decided by reserve championship order. With one race completed, group one was made up of the five drivers who were classified in the bottom five positions from Saturday.
The five drivers who kicked off proceedings in qualifying were reigning champion Lucas di Grassi, Neel Jani, Jerome d’Ambrosio, Oliver Turvey and Andre Lotterer.
Jani was the first of these drivers to put in their 200kW lap, the Swiss laying down a benchmark of 1:04.612s. It didn’t take long for the Techeetah of Lotterer to go 0.8s faster than his fellow Porsche WEC driver, but it was Turvey who ended the first group on top as the Englishman set a 1:03.092s.
di Grassi was unable to trump Turvey and finished a quarter of a second slower, while d’Ambrosio narrowly missed out on a provisional third place by 0.004s to Lotterer.
Group two was made of the drivers who were classified 11th to 15th in Saturday’s race, which included season two champion Sebastien Buemi, Rosenqvist, Maro Engel, Evans and rookie Kamui Kobayashi.
Rosenqvist, a renowned street circuit specialist, wasted no time in making his intent known as he went straight into provisional pole with a time of 1:02.878s, while Engel moved himseld into a potential Super Pole slot with P4.
The Panasonic Jaguar Racing of Evans then showed everyone that he means business today, carrying over his strong form from Saturday as he smashed in a 1:02.577s to head the field.
Kobayashi put in a solid lap to take a provisional P6 while surprisingly Buemi could only muster a 1:05.346s following a scrape with the barrier, 2.7s behind pace-setter Evans.
Following the excitement of group two was group three, where Nico Prost, Antonio Felix da Costa, Luca Filippi, Alex Lynn and Mortara all took to the track in their quest to book a place in Super Pole.
Prost initially went P5 with his 200kW lap, but superb laps from Lynn and Filippi saw them go third and fifth respectively, with the latter soon shuffled down to sixth as da Costa lapped his Andretti quick enough to provisionally enter Super Pole with the fourth fastest time.
Finally, Mortara carried on his promising pace from Saturday to lap within three tenths of Evans and take P2, all but confirming his place in Super Pole and in turn knocking Turvey down into P6.
The final group, made up of the top five in the championship, was contested by birthday boy Daniel Abt, Nelson Piquet Jr, Nick Heidfeld, Jean-Eric Vergne and race one winner Sam Bird.
Bird, who will take a ten place grid drop, went into P4 with his 200kW laps before Abt slotted into second place ahead of Mortara, while Vergne, Heidfeld and Piquet did not trouble the Super Pole positions in something of an anti-climatic finish to the group stages.
That meant that Evans, Abt, Mortara, Rosenqvist and Bird were the drivers who went through to Super Pole.
Yesterday’s dominant race winner, Bird, was first out on track in the Super Pole shootout and had to deliver in order to minimise the pain of taking a ten place grid drop. His 200kW lap produced a 1:03.109s to lay down a respectable benchmark for the remaining four drivers.
Next up was Rosenqvist, who has already taken three pole positions in his Formula E career and is looking to make up for the disappointment of Saturday where he missed out on points.
The Swede duly delivered with a time of 1:02.836s to put himself on provisional pole, sliding his way through the final corner as he crossed the timing beam.
Rookie driver Mortara, who has already impressed with his pace in the Venturi, was up next and the pressure was on as he made his first Super Pole appearance in only his second race.
A mistake into turn one put pay to the rest of his lap, but the Swiss-Italian was able to beat Bird to second by 0.001s and provisionally join Rosenqvist on the front row.
Abt, who is celebrating his 25th birthday today, was the penultimate driver to take part in Super Pole and went purple in sector one, but a scrappy remainder of the lap cost him a heap of time and the German set the fourth fastest time.
That left only Evans, who has been fast all weekend with the fastest time in FP2 on Saturday and in the group stages today, to deny Rosenqvist pole position but the Kiwi missed out on his and Panasonic Jaguar Racing’s maiden pole by a mere 0.054s and will start on the front row ahead of Mortara and Abt, who will be promoted to fourth following Bird’s penalty.
Lynn will move up to fifth ahead of da Costa and Vergne, while Turvey, Filippi and Heidfeld will round out the top ten.