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Nevermind the bollards: di Grassi on provisional pole position

Following an eventful qualifying, Lucas di Grassi took the provisional pole position but due to several investigations the starting grid is not yet final. 

Following two interesting sessions earlier on, Formula E fans were hoping for an eventful and close qualifying – which is exactly what the got. Under the Uruguayan sun, Lucas di Grassi (Audi Sport ABT Schaeffler), Maro Engel (Venturi Formula E), Jerome d’Ambrosio (Dragon Racing), Tom Blomqvist (MS&AD Andretti) and Luca Filippi (NIO Formula E) officially commenced the hunt for the best positions on the grid – with comparably the worst track conditions of the entire qualifying session.

Thus the drivers were getting immensely close to the walls, but managed to avoid any collisions. In the end, di Grassi crossed the line with an impressive 1:14.032 that him in P1 for the moment. Second placed Engel was nearly half a second slower than the reigning Formula E champion, putting di Grassi into a position where he might be fighting for pole position.

Next up were Andre Lotterer (TECHEETAH), Antonio Felix da Costa (MS&AD Andretti), Alex Lynn (DS Virgin Racing), Jose-Maria Lopez (Dragon Racing) and Nicolas Prost (Renault e.dams). Lopez wanted a bit too much on his 200kw-lap and therefore missed out on beating di Grassi’s time – and neither did the other drivers in the group. For a moment, it seemed like Lynn would be able to go faster, but lost valuable time in the third sector, putting him second. Meanwhile, Prost suddenly became a passenger in his own car as he lost his steering and hit the wall. Thus the Frenchman had to abandon his qualifying and returned to the pits with no time set.

Daniel Abt (Audi Sport ABT Schaeffler), Mitch Evans (Panasonic Jaguar), Edoardo Mortara (Venturi Formula E), Oliver Turvey (NIO Formula E) and Nick Heidfeld (Mahindra Racing) were the next drivers out on track. It quickly became obvious that rack conditions were improving massively as the majority of drivers in group three were able to beat di Grassi’s times in sector one and two. Nevertheless, none of them were able to beat the Brazilian’s overall time. Evans put himself in P2, Turvey crossed the line as a strong third.

The session came to an untimely end, as Heidfeld hit the wall, causing a red flag. Venturi driver Mortara got another go as Heidfeld accident messed up with his 200kw-lap, but his third sector was too weak to him in a better position than P12.

The last drivers of the group phase in qualifying were Felix Rosenqvist (Mahindra Racing), Sebastien Buemi (Renault e.dams), Jean-Eric Vergne (TECHEETAH), Sam Bird (DS Virgin Racing) and Nelson Piquet JR (Panasonic Jaguar). Most of them went out fairly late in the session, with Bird being the first driver on a flying lap. Unfortunately for the Brit had to fight some traffic, only putting him in P8 before his rivals crossed the wall. Rosenqvist also had a hard time in qualifying, only securing P12 on the grid.

Vergne, Piquet JR and Buemi were all showing a strong performance but Buemi lost his momentum in sector two, only putting him into P7 overall. Vergne meanwhile went around the track in just 1:13.672, meaning he was the first driver to beat di Grassi. Even though Piquet JR looked very strong, he hit the wall and had to abandon the session with no 200kw-lap set. This eventful last part of the group qualifying meant Vergne, di Grassi, Lynn, Evans and Turvey would fight for Super Pole.

Turvey was the first driver on track. The Brit risked a lot and crossed the line with a solid 1:14.978 – which was nevertheless nearly an entire second slower than the fastest time during the group stage. Next up was Lynn, who showed a very strong performance and was rewarded with a provisional pole position after putting in a 1:14.198. A tough time to beat for Evans who was up next. He gave it all he got but only came in second after hitting the wall. Nevertheless, the sky did not darken to much for the Panasonic Jaguar driver as Lynn and Turvey were under investigation as they hit the bollard and thus exceeded track limits.

Reigning Formula E champion was the next driver to try and get pole position and while he crossed the line as the faster Super Pole driver so far with a 1:13.948. But as just Turvey and Lynn before him, the Brazilian was put under investigation as he also hit the bollard. Vergne avoided the bollard but only crossed the line in P5 following a weak lap.

Thus, even though di Grassi started in group one, he took provisional pole position but due to the ongoing investigations, the starting grid is not yet official.

About Antonia Grzelak
Toni is the founder and CEO of Apart from taking care of management and marketing, she acts as the editor-in-chief and is responsible for ERN's content strategy. Furthermore, she is our very own caffeine addict and is barely ever seen without a huge coffee mug in her hand.