Lucas Di Grassi defied the conventional wisdom of group qualifying in Formula E to take pole for this year’s Punta Del Este ePrix after chief rival Jean-Eric Vergne experience issues in the SuperPole Shoot out.
The Brazilian’s pole however was under investigation along with Oliver Turvey and Alex Lynn for cutting the Turn 14/15 chicane and hitting the bollard.
“You have to use the limits” said Di Grassi. “The bollard was still there so I think it’s okay”.
Group 1 was at a supposed disadvantage given the track would still be quite slippery with sand blowing on from the beach between sessions. Those effected were be Lucas di Grassi, Maro Engel, Jerome D’Ambrosio, Tom Blomqvist and Luca Filippi.
At 200kW, the approach to (and out of) corners would be dramatically increased. A 1:14.032 was a solid lap from di Grassi to head Engel and D’Ambrosio.
Jose Maria Lopez, Nico Prost, Andre Lotterer, Antonio Felix Da Costa and Alex Lynn took to the track next in Group 2. A scrappy lap from Lopez was still good enough for provisional third, but he would immediately be usurped by Lynn and Lotterer, who would finish a tenth and four-tenths behind Di Grassi to go provisional second and third respectively.
Prost would have a miserable session however after connecting heavily with the wall after launching all four wheels off the kerbs.
Group 3 saw Edoardo Mortara, Oliver Turvey, Mitch Evans, Nick Heidfeld and Daniel Abt. A top lap from Abt slotted him into provisional third – a tenth behind team mate Di Grassi – but would immediately lose the spot to Turvey and then Evans.
Lynn would eventually slot take third, but Mortara would have to wait for a second bite of the cherry after Nick Heidfeld buried the front of his Mahindra into the barriers at turn seventeen. Mortara’s re-run would see him slot into a provisional twelfth after a 1:15 plus second lap.
The final group of Jean-Eric Vergne, Felix Rosenqvist, Sam Bird, Sebastien Buemi and Nelson Piquet were also coincidentally the current championship contenders and all were keen to take full advantage of the improved conditions.
Bird would lead the group out and immediately showed his intent by brushing the barriers out of eight. Understeer however would only see the DS Virgin driver finish in P8. Rosenqvist didn’t fair much better after also collecting the barriers but was able to continue to P12. Vergne would shoot to the top, with Buemi’s first two purple sectors would only be good enough for seventh.
Piquet was another victim of the sausage kerbs and like Heidfeld, sent his Jaguar into the barriers – a disappointing finish given his purple time in sector one. A possible broken tub would leave the Jag team with a lot of work to do.
That left Vergne, Di Grassi, Evans, Lynn and Turvey in the SuperPole shootout. Turvey was out first and nice and (crucially) tidy through the first chicane. A scrappy final sector would be good enough for 1:14.978. Alex Lynn was next to try his hand and two-tenths up on Turvey through the first sector to go eight tenths quicker than Turvey despite sustaining front wing damage from the bollards.
Evans was a tenth behind Lynn at the end of the first sector and collected the barriers on the exit of turn eight. No obvious damage was sustained, but the speed that was scrubbed off as a result saw him finish five tenths behind Lynn.
Di Grassi was next and only a few hundredths down on Lynn through sector one. Massive commitment through the first chicane saw the Brazilian shoot to the top of the timesheets.
All eyes were on Vergne but the Frenchman was already half a second off Di Grassi through the first sector. An apparent issue with his Techeetah would see Vergne complete an obligatory lap to finish P5, handing Di Grassi the pole – notwithstanding any penalties.
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