One of Formula E’s greatest wonders is no more: Lucas di Grassi has finally scored a pole position.
Despite winning four races, taking countless podiums and fighting for two titles, di Grassi had never started on pole. Today, however, he managed to see off the challenge of Sebastien Buemi and Jean-Eric Vergne to take pole in Buenos Aires.
An early shock in qualifying came courtesy of Jaguar’s Mitch Evans, who put in a stunning lap to take provisional pole in Q1, beating the likes of 2016 Buenos Aires winner Sam Bird and Andretti’s Robin Frijns. Bird cited a struggle to get his tyres up the temperature as the reason for his lack of pace. Perhaps most significantly for Evans, he was 1.4 seconds clear of teammate Adam Carroll in the sister I-Type, staking a claim for a place in the Super Pole shootout.
Q2 was packed with ringers that were expected to fill out the places at the front of the grid and they did not disappoint. Sebastien Buemi took provisional pole with his 200kW lap, although he was frustrated over the radio, feeling there was more time in hand, while perennial rival di Grassi was fractionally slower. However, neither could beat Jean-Eric Vergne, who put in a late lap that was two-tenths up on Buemi, handing him top spot. Nelson Piquet was fourth for NextEV NIO, leaving Evans fifth.
Home favourite Jose Maria Lopez made his qualifying bow in Argentina in Q3, and looked set to delight the locals when he posted the fastest time through sector one. However, a mistake coming out of Turn 8 saw him clip the wall, damaging the rear of his car and ending his qualifying early, resigning the DS Virgin Racing driver to a back-of-the-grid start. He would be joined there by Antonio Felix da Costa, who damaged the suspension on his Andretti. Felix Rosenqvist was quickest in Q3, but his lap was only good enough for P6, missing out on a Super Pole berth.
Rosenqvist was shuffled down the order further still when both Oliver Turvey and Nico Prost went faster in Q4. Turvey’s time was good enough for P4, ensuring both NextEV drivers were into Super Pole, while Prost was P6. This left Evans an agonising P7 for Jaguar, but nevertheless acted as a remarkable result for the rookie team.
Super Pole saw both NextEV drivers struggle, with errors from Turvey and Piquet leaving them P4 and P5 respectively. Buemi once again choked when it mattered in qualifying, making a mistake through the first sector to wind up third. The battle for pole now was between di Grassi and Vergne.
Di Grassi produced a near-faultless lap, with a time of 1:09.825 being the benchmark to beat. The Techeetah driver was faster through sector one, only to lock up at Turn 4 and lose time. It proved costly, with the gap of 0.194 seconds to di Grassi being enough for the Brazilian to take his maiden Formula E pole.
Group qualifying result
Super pole result