Twitter Facebook Youtube

Vergne on pole in the Principality

Jean-Eric Vergne has taken his ninth career pole position and will line up first on the streets of Monaco after initial polesitter Oliver Rowland was demoted due to a three place grid drop picked up last time out in Paris.

Qualifying got underway with clouds overhead, but on a warm track with conditions due to improve throughout the session.

The opening group was made up of the top five in the championship, headlined by series leader Robin Frijns along with Andre Lotterer, Antonio Felix da Costa, Lucas di Grassi and Jerome d’Ambrosio.

It wasn’t until the last couple of minutes that the group would emerge from the pit lane, with Lotterer heading out first and making a mess of his flying lap. The disappointed German eventually dropped down the order to last once the rest of the groups had played out.

The time came in thick and fast after that, with d’Ambrosio beating the DS Techeetah before immediately being beaten to provisional P1 himself by di Grassi.

da Costa then crossed the line to set the fastest time of the group, with Frijns coming up short in second place.

After group one

1) da Costa 50.375s
2) Frijns +0.123s
3) di Grassi +0.127s
4) d’Ambrosio +0.226s
5) Lotterer +0.417s

The second group saw positions 6 to 10 in the championship come out to play, as reigning champion Vergne looked to get his title defence back on track.

The Frenchman put in a stellar time to go three tenths faster than da Costa’s previous benchmark, while Mitch Evans also put in a strong performance to provisionally book his place in Super Pole.

Hong Kong race winner Edoardo Mortara put in a scruffy lap as he missed the apex of the Nouvelles hairpin, while Daniel Abt’s lap was un spectacular en route to a provisional P8.

Envision Virgin Racing’s Sam Bird went sixth fastest to provisionally book himself a place in Super Pole, but it seemed unlikely with two more groups left to run.

After group two

1) Vergne 50.048s
2) Evans +0.199s
3) da Costa +0.327s
4) Frijns +0.450s
5) di Grassi +0.454s
6) Bird +0.478s

The third group consisted of Pascal Wehrlein, Rowland, Sebastien Buemi, Stoffel Vandoorne, Alexander Sims and Felipe Massa.

Breaking the trend from the previous two groups, Sims elected to leave the garage immediately and had the track to himself while the other five drivers waited for track conditions to improve later in the group.

Sims put in a tidy but not-so-fast first sector to go three tenths behind Vergne’s benchmark, but a stellar final two sectors put him into a provisional P3, leaving the Brit wondering what could have been with a better first sector.

The rest of the group then went to put in their 250kW laps, with a heart-stopping moment coming at La Rascasse as Buemi nearly ran into the back of Wehrlein on the out lap.

With the flying laps completed, Wehrlein, Massa and Buemi booked their provisional places in Super Pole with the top four separated by less than a tenth of a second.

After group three

1) Vergne 50.048s
2) Wehrlein +0.010s
3) Massa +0.042s
4) Buemi +0.092s
5) Rowland +0.113s
6) Evans +0.199s

The fourth and final group was comprised of the bottom six drivers in the championship: Maximilian Günther, Gary Paffett, Oliver Turvey, Jose Maria Lopez, Tom Dillmann and Alex Lynn.

Dillmann was the first of the group to venture out onto the circuit, closely followed by the remaining drivers.

In a uneventful group, none of the six drivers progressed into Super Pole with Lynn coming the closest in P8, while Lopez put his GEOX Dragon into P10.

After group four

1) Vergne 50.048s
2) Wehrlein +0.010s
3) Massa +0.042s
4) Buemi +0.092s
5) Rowland +0.113s
6) Evans +0.199s

That left only the Super Pole session left to run, with Evans the first to go for his hot lap. The Kiwi set a respectable benchmark of 50.112s but Rowland immediately beat that by a mere 0.091s to take provisional pole, albeit with a grid drop looming over him.

Buemi was the third driver out in Super Pole with the intention of taking a hat trick of Monaco poles, but the Nissan e.dams driver was unable to challenge the speed of his teammate and Evans, going provisionally P3.

Massa then made a hash of his first sector, but a stellar middle sector set up the Brazilian for a run to third place provisionally, with the Venturi driver wondering what might have been with a tidy first sector.

Mahindra Racing’s Wehrlein pretty much matched Rowland in the first sector but an unspectacular final sector meant the German was unable to challenge for pole.

Last but not least, Vergne put in a purple first sector but lost a little bit of time to Rowland in the middle sector, eventually crossing the line 0.021s behind the Englishman.

With Rowland’s three place grid drop, Vergne will start the Monaco E-Prix from pole position ahead of Evans, with Rowland starting from fourth and sharing the second row of the grid with Wehrlein.

After Super Pole

1) Rowland 50.021s (+3)
2) Vergne +0.021s
3) Evans +0.091s (UI)
4) Wehrlein +0.107s
5) Massa +0.197s
6) Buemi +0.213s

Evans was put under investigation for not respecting the Super Pole procedure and as such is potentially in danger of losing his front row start

As far as the championship contenders are concerned, Frijns will provisionally start the race from P12 while Lotterer was the last of the qualifiers. da Costa will provisionally line up in P9 while di Grassi and d’Ambrosio are 13th and 17th respectively.

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.