Jean-Eric Vergne confounded onlookers by spinning his way into pole for the Hong Kong ePrix ahead of Sam Bird and Nick Heidfeld.
Qualifying was already under a cloud with Maro Engel, Mitch Evans and Kamui Kobayashi all heading into the session under investigation having set fast times during the yellow flagged period of Free Practice Two.
Mortara, Engel, Buemi, Lotterer and Lynn headed out in Group 1 with Lotterer leading the way with a clear track in front of him. His initial benchmark of 1:04.423 was the 1.6s slower than Mitch Evans’ FP2 time, but Buemi quickly shot to the top of the timesheets, with a 1:03.966 putting him clear of Lotterer and Engel.
A mistake from Lynn saw the Brit back in provisional fourth while Motara’s meeting with the wall saw his chances fade before they began.
Bird, Evans, Kobayashi, da Costa and Filippi were next up in Group 2, with Kobayashi making haste early after a lack of running in the morning sessions. The Japanese driver would clout the wall but remained in third for his efforts before eventually falling to fifth.
It wasn’t long before Sam Bird turned up the wick to go quickest ahead of Antnio Felix Da Costa for Andretti. Mitch Evans however couldn’t capitalize on his practice speed and would finish provisional tenth. Evans confirmed that he missed the chequered flag to start his 200kW lap after a team “miscalculation”.
Bird was struggling with radio transmission issues during his qualifying lap: “It felt like a clean lap. The radio is really bad here because of all the high buildings. I’m not getting what the engineers are telling me.”
Group 3 saw Piquet, Jani, Rosenqvist, Heidfeld and Vergne attempt to take advantage of a slightly more rubbered in track, with Rosenqvist heading out first, but it was Jean-Eric Vergne who immediately popped up into 2nd with a 1:03.403 – just two tenths off Bird’s best. Vergne would be usurped by the Mahindra of Nick Heidfeld, who took second while team-mate Rosenqvist had to settle for fourth.
The final group of di Grassi, D’Ambrosio, Prost, Turvey and Abt was filled with drama as Nico Prost collected the wall at turn 5, only for D’Ambrosio to get caught up in the debris from the incident with green flags still out.
When qualifying resumed, all could restart their laps but Prost, with Abt immediately jumping to fifth. Abt again got the better of his team mate, edging di Grassi out of the super pole shootout whilst Oliver Turvey had to settle for seventh.
This left Bird, Heidfeld, Vergne, Rosenqvist and Abt to contest the Super Pole shootout. Daniel Abt was out first, managing a clean lap to produce a 1:03.724. Rosenqvist was next, but a lock up at turn one wrecked his chances of a good showing and finished a full second behind Abt.
Jean-Eric Vergne would fare better, going to provisional pole – a tenth and a half quicker than Abt – but unbelievably, spinning as he crossed the finish line. Heidfeld just missed out on pipping Vergne by a mere 0.029 seconds, but even more remarkably, was eventually relegated to third by 0.002 seconds by Sam Bird.