Sam Bird, Nelson Piquet Jr, Jerome D’Ambrodsio, Loic Duval and Daniel Abt were lumped into the first group, but it wasn’t until 2 and a half minutes left on the clock before Piquet broke the ice and headed out on track. The late scramble left little time to space each other – even on a long circuit like Montreal.
Loic Duval was quickest through the first sector but D’Ambrosio left his run too late to the flag and missed the opportunity for a full 200kW lap. That aside, Duval’s best was three seconds of his best FP2 time.
Frijns, Da Costa, Prost, Sarrazin and Lopez were next with pressure now being exerted on Nico Prost in the wake of Sebastien Buemi’s practice accident – whatever positions the Frenchman could deny Lucas Di Grassi would be crucial for his team mate’s championship.
Bird was the big loser however, saying later that his DS Virgin only had 170kW available during his main lap.
Da Costa was on maximum attack but half a second off the pace as he slid his Amlin Andretti around Montreal, while Prost was in contrast half a second of the Paris end of the group. The big surprise was Stephane Sarrazin who went to the top with a 1:23.138 ahead of Prost.
Buemi, Di Grassi and Rosenqvist along with Evans and Vergne headed off Group three, with the misfortune of others presenting an opportunity for a relatively easy run for Super Pole.
A little lock-up for Buemi on his sighting lap would have done nothing for his nerves following his accident, but was also important info measuring the limit of adhesion. A smooth flying lap however saw him up in the first sector.
Vergne immediately third quickest overall, while Buemi went provisional fastest with a 1:23.053. It was to be short-lived however, being usurped by rival Sebastien Buemi by a mere 0.027 seconds. Buemi would be forced to change a battery though, he would incur a ten grid penalty. The new order would also bump Bird out of contention for Super Pole and in turn his championship chances.
Group four consisted of Dillman, Engel, Heidfeld, Carroll and Turvey with Engel enduring a massive lock-up during his first warm-up sector. Engel appeared to have the same issue as Bird by only having access to 170kW. Evans and Carroll were the only movers for Jaguar, taking 7th and 8th respectively but Nick Heidfeld’s best was only good enough for fourteenth.
That left Di Grassi, Buemi, Sarrazin, Rosenqvist and Prost to fight out Super Pole. Some late, minor oversteer snaps did nothing for his lap time and was ultimately rewarded with a decent 1:23.330. Rosenqvist would fare worse however, missing a crucial apex and finish over a second off Prost, claiming he needed more time to warm-up the tyres on his Mahindra.
Sarrazin his first braking point perfectly and showed great rear grip to be up on Prost through sector one until a messy exit in the middle sector reduced his advantage to 7 hundredths of a second, but enough to take provisional pole.
All eyes were now on Buemi who was executing a beautifully neat, committed lap to go a tenth up on Sarrazin in the first sector. That translated to a provisional pole and put all the pressure on title rival Lucas Di Grassi.
Di Grassi was 4 hundredths down on Buemi through the first sector but pulled back time to be a tenth up in the second sector. That became two at the fall of the flag and three crucial points for Super Pole, effectively relegating Buemi to 12th by virtue of his battery change.
“Today felt like a bad lap” said Buemi.
Di Grassi meanwhile was all smiles. “It’s part one today, but the weekend is long” he said.
Images: FIA Formula E
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