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Vergne on pole in Bern while rivals falter

Jean-Eric Vergne has made a huge statement for the championship by taking pole position for the Bern E-Prix, making the most of a below-par session for his title rivals with Lucas di Grassi and Antonio Felix da Costa lining up on the penultimate row of the grid.

Dry conditions greeted the 22 drivers for the qualifying session despite threats of rain throughout the rain, giving the field the best chance of putting in their best laps in their quest for pole position.

The opening group was made up of the top five in the championship: Vergne, di Grassi, Andre Lotterer, da Costa and Robin Frijns.

None of the group took to the track until almost three minutes remained, as di Grassi led the DS Techeetah duo of Vergne and Lotterer out onto the track. Frijns and da Costa left it later to venture onto the circuit, leaving themselves without the possibility of setting a banker lap before turning it up to the full 250kW.

As Frijns and da Costa finally made it out, the other three drivers had done a full lap and all five found themselves fighting over the same piece of tarmac. Luckily, Frijns managed to cross the line to start his lap with one second left on the clock.

Vergne set the initial pace of the first three ahead of Lotterer and di Grassi, before Frijns slotted into third and da Costa lapped slowest of the group, eight tenths behind Vergne.

After group one

1) Vergne 1:19.232s
2) Lotterer +0.353s
3) Frijns +0.359s
4) di Grassi +0.802s
5) da Costa +0.849s

The second group was formed of positions six to ten in the championship: Mitch Evans, Daniel Abt, Jerome d’Ambrosio, Oliver Rowland and Sebastien Buemi.

The Nissan e.dams of Rowland broke the silence on group two, leaving the pit lane with less than four minutes on the clock.

With the Yorkshireman’s banker lap complete, he set about challenging Vergne’s benchmark and despite setting a purple first sector could only manage a provisional P4, while Abt and Evans both found purple first sectors, the latter going on to smash Vergne’s time by a mega 0.335s.

Abt went into P3 before being trumped by Buemi, while d’Ambrosio shuffled Rowland down to P8 with the seventh fastest time.

After group two

1) Evans 1:18.897s
2) Vergne +0.335s
3) Buemi +0.413s
4) Abt +0.657s
5) Lotterer +0.688s
6) Frijns +0.694s

The third group consisted of Sam Bird, Edoardo Mortara, Pascal Wehrlein, Felipe Massa, Stoffel Vandoorne and Alexander Sims.

There appeared to be some confusion with Bird as he was held in the pit lane until less than two minutes to go, while everyone else was already on track winding up for their banker laps.

Sims was the first of the group to go for the full power 250kW lap, but a scruffy middle sector put pay to his chances of challenging for Super Pole.

Wehrlein, meanwhile, put in a solid lap to provisionally P3 while Bird made the most of his one lap to provisionally book himself a place in Super Pole.

Massa could only manage P10 after a lock up, while Vandoorne, Sims and Mortara ended the group 12th, 13th and 14th respectively.

After group three

1) Evans 1:18.897s
2) Vergne +0.335s
3) Wehrlein +0.368s
4) Buemi +0.413s
5) Bird +0.538s
6) Abt +0.657s

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

Dillmann led the group out in search of a strong result for NIO, but was found wanting after lapping almost half a second down in sector one.

Lopez was strong in sector one, but GEOX Dragon teammate Günther almost matched the fastest time in sector one and went on to record the fifth fastest time, booking himself a place in Super Pole while Lopez could only go P14.

Lynn broke into the reaches of the top ten as Paffett went 16th fastest, while the NIO duo of Dillmann and Turvey propped up the field with the two slowest times.

After group four

1) Evans 1:18.897s
2) Vergne +0.335s
3) Wehrlein +0.368s
4) Buemi +0.413s
5) Günther +0.428s
6) Bird +0.538s

Bird was the first driver to take aim at pole position, putting behind him the confusion and stress of the group stages.

A solid first sector gave the Englishman a good start to the lap, but a mistake at turn six caused a missed apex and ended in a lap time of 1:19.536s, over six tenths behind the pace set by Evans in the group stages.

Günther was up next in his second Super Pole appearance, lighting up the timing screens with two purple sectors but a below-par final sector caused the German to lose three tenths, still beating the benchmark set by Bird.

A small lock up for Buemi wasn’t the best start to his lap as he found himself a tenth down on Günther in the first sector, but a purple middle sector made up the difference as the Swiss took provisional pole by two tenths of a second.

Aiming for his second career pole position, FP2 pace setter Wehrlein took to the Bern track next.

After matching Buemi in sector one, the German lost some time in the middle sector following a lock up and missed out on provisional pole by a mere 0.004s.

Reigning champion Vergne was the penultimate runner in Super Pole and the Frenchman got his lap off to a perfect start with the fastest first sector. The DS Techeetah driver kept his head for the rest of the lap and went fastest by 0.351s with only Evans left to run.

The Kiwi, looking for his second career pole position, was almost two tenths down in the first sector and lost a further tenth in the middle sector en route to second place, giving Vergne pole position for the Bern E-Prix.

After Super Pole

1) Vergne 1:18.813s
2) Evans +0.398s
3) Buemi +0.351s
4) Wehrlein +0.355s
5) Günther +0.558s
6) Bird +0.723s

Poor laps for di Grassi and da Costa will see them line up 19th and 20th, while fellow title challengers Lotterer and Frijns start just inside the top ten with eighth and ninth.

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.