Berlin ePrix: Di Grassi on pole by 0.001s, Buemi P14

Lucas di Grassi claimed pole position for first race of Formula E’s Berlin double-header by just 0.001s, as championship leader Sebastien Buemi struggled to 14th.

Berlin ePrix: Di Grassi on pole by 0.001s, Buemi P14
Sébastien Buemi, Renault e.Dams
Mitch Evans, Jaguar Racing
Daniel Abt, ABT Schaeffler Audi Sport
Nicolas Prost, Renault e.Dams
Loic Duval, Dragon Racing
Tom Dillmann, Venturi
Jose Maria Lopez, DS Virgin Racing

Abt Audi Sport’s di Grassi is nursing an ankle injury but put any pain to one side to edge a fascinating qualifying session on the all-electric series’ return to the former Tempelhof airport.

Di Grassi ran first in Super Pole and posted a 1m08.312s, before Jose Maria Lopez lapped just one-thousandth of a second slower – a deficit the Argentine admitted “hurts”.

Felix Rosenqvist topped the group phase of qualifying and was on course to beat di Grassi to pole after setting the best first and second sectors on his flying lap.

But he clipped the kerb at the Turn 9 hairpin and the lost momentum there, and with another small slide through Turn 10, consigned him to third on the grid, less than a tenth slower than di Grassi.

Rosenqvist’s Mahindra teammate Nick Heidfeld topped practice but faded in the shootout and wound up fourth, comfortably clear of Sam Bird, who had a scruffy Super Pole lap.

Pole for di Grassi earns him three points and cuts Buemi’s championship lead to 40 points, and the Brazilian will be further buoyed by the struggles that left Buemi on the seventh row.

Buemi was quickest in the first practice session but was only ninth in FP2 after a mistake on his 200kW lap, and his troubles worsened in qualifying.

The winner of five of the six races so far this season was almost 0.8s slower than Rosenqvist’s benchmark across the four qualifying groups, and he missed out on the superpole by 0.6s.

“It’s really bad,” said Buemi. “I had a lot of oversteer and struggled to put a lap together. It’s going to be a tough one. The speed is not there.”

The Renault-powered drivers struggled in general. Jean-Eric Vergne was best of the quartet in his customer Techeetah entry in sixth, after his qualifying car’s motor was replaced following practice.

He will start ahead of Oliver Turvey, Daniel Abt, Buemi’s works Renault teammate Nico Prost and Jerome d’Ambrosio.

Stephane Sarrazin will start 12th for his first race since switching to Techeetah, one place behind his old Venturi teammate Maro Engel.

Super Pole results:

Pos.DriverTeamTimeGap
1 brazil Lucas di Grassi  germany Team Abt 1'08.312  
2 argentina Jose Maria Lopez  united_kingdom Virgin Racing 1'08.313 0.001
3 sweden Felix Rosenqvist  india Mahindra Racing 1'08.395 0.083
4 germany Nick Heidfeld  india Mahindra Racing 1'08.650 0.338
5 united_kingdom Sam Bird  united_kingdom Virgin Racing 1'09.724 1.412

Group stage results:

Pos.#DriverTeamTimeGap
6 25 france Jean-Eric Vergne  china Techeetah 1'08.457 0.286
7 88 united_kingdom Oliver Turvey  china NEXTEV TCR Formula E Team 1'08.607 0.436
8 66 germany Daniel Abt  germany Team Abt 1'08.620 0.449
9 8 france Nicolas Prost  france DAMS 1'08.692 0.521
10 7 belgium Jérôme d'Ambrosio  united_states Dragon Racing 1'08.825 0.654
11 5 germany Maro Engel  monaco Venturi 1'08.846 0.675
12 33 france Stéphane Sarrazin  china Techeetah 1'08.890 0.719
13 3 brazil Nelson Piquet Jr.  china NEXTEV TCR Formula E Team 1'08.961 0.790
14 9 switzerland Sébastien Buemi  france DAMS 1'09.010 0.839
15 4 france Tom Dillmann  monaco Venturi 1'09.214 1.043
16 20 new_zealand Mitch Evans  united_kingdom Jaguar Racing 1'09.219 1.048
17 27 netherlands Robin Frijns  united_states Andretti Autosport 1'09.630 1.459
18 47 united_kingdom Adam Carroll  united_kingdom Jaguar Racing 1'09.898 1.727
19 6 france Loic Duval  united_states Dragon Racing 1'09.923 1.752
20 28 portugal Antonio Felix da Costa  united_states Andretti Autosport 1'11.147 2.976
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