Vandoorne takes first pole in wet Hong Kong qualifying | Formula E

Near-torrential rain could not stop Formula E rookie Stoffel Vandoorne from beating the series’ roster of more experienced talent to take his first pole position in Hong Kong.

As always, qualifying groups were decided by championship order, with the points-leaders in the first group. It had rained just prior to and in between both free practice sessions and another cloud burst ended just a few minutes before qualifying, leaving the track glossy with water as the first cars went out.

Conditions on track were so severely compromised that times with this year’s car (and 50kW more power) were nearly 10 seconds slower than last year’s pole over just a 1.156 mile track. With water flooding the floor of tent garages, teams were working in extremely difficult conditions to continue the sessions at all.

Group One: Jerome D’Ambrosio, Antonio Felix da Costa, Sam Bird, Lucas di Grassi, Pascal Wehrlein

Sam Bird set the first decently-paced lap of qualifying, with a 1’12.529 after neither Mahindra could breach 1’14 – however, Lucas di Grassi, last out in the session, was able to put together a 1’12.321 for a potential Super Pole place and the top of some not overly impressive times.

Qualifying 1

Position Driver Team Time
1 Lucas di Grassi Audi 1’12.321
2 Sam Bird Envision Virgin 1’12.529
3 Antonio Felix da Costa BMWi Andretti 1’14.384
4 Pascal Wehrlein Mahindra 1’14.830
5 Jerome D’Ambrosio Mahindra 1’15.347

Group Two: Andre Lotterer, Robin Frijns, Jean-Eric Vergne, Mitch Evans, Edoardo Mortara

Mitch Evans seemed to be on promising form, as the first driver to set a hot lap and immediately getting into P3 but over a second and a half back from Di Grassi. Both Mortara and Lotterer put together very impressive laps, easily besting Evans and taking the top two times of the session so far.

Jean-Eric Vergne, who last year took pole here by sliding backwards over the line, almost repeated the feat. However, where he managed to save the lap and car last year, this time his much scrappier lap ended in hitting both the front and back of his car, causing damage that left it stranded on track and brought out a red flag. As he was unable to complete the Parc Ferme procedure for qualifying, his severely compromised time was then completely deleted to leave him at the back of the grid.

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Qualifying 2

Position Driver Team Time
1 Edoardo Mortara Audi 1’12.156
2 Andre Lotterer Envision Virgin 1’12.204
3 Robin Frijns BMWi Andretti 1’12.600
4 Mitch Evans Mahindra 1’13.920
5 Jean-Eric Vergne DS Techeetah DSQ’00.000

Group Three: Daniel Abt, Alexander Sims, Sebastien Buemi, Oliver Rowland, Oliver Turvey, Felipe Massa

Another short burst of rain came down before group three, preventing any potential advantage being taken from a drying track. Felipe Massa, who made his first Super Pole session in Mexico, was the first driver in the group to go to 250kW and set a 1’12.570.

However, Oliver Rowland set the star time with a 1’12.140 – comfortably the fastest time so far and nearly four tenths ahead of his teammate Sebastien Buemi, who only managed a 1’12.529.

Qualifying 3

Position Driver Team Time
1 Oliver Rowland Nissan E.Dams 1’12.140
2 Sebastien Buemi Nissan E.Dams 1’12.529
3 Felipe Massa Venturi 1’12.570
4 Daniel Abt Audi 1’12.850
5 Alexander Sims BMWi Andretti 1’12.839
6 Oliver Turvey NIO 1’14.133

Group Four: Jose-Maria Lopez, Nelson Piquet Jr, Tom Dillman, Gary Paffett, Stoffel Vandoorne, Felipe Nasr

Group four took to the track in potentially one of the driest conditions it had achieved all day, although greasy would still be a mild description for the waterlogged tarmac.

Following Mortara’s impressive performance in group two, both HWA cars (powered by the Venturi powertrain) performed extremely well, with Gary Paffett making an initial bid for pole on a 1’12.093 only to be bested by Stoffel Vandoorne, who seized the best group time by miles with a 1’11.592 – nearly half a second ahead of anyone else.

Qualifying 4

Position Driver Team Time
1 Stoffel Vandoorne HWA AG 1’11.592
2 Gary Paffett HWA AG 1’12.093
3 Tom Dillman NIO 1’12.839
4 Jose-Maria Lopez GEOX Dragon 1’13.073
5 Nelson Piquet Jr Jaguar 1’13.421
6 Felipe Nasr GEOX Dragon 1’13.885

Super Pole: Stoffel Vandoorne, Gary Paffett, Oliver Rowland, Edoardo Mortara, Andre Lotterer, Lucas di Grassi

Another burst of rain just before Super Pole revised any improvements during the final group session, sending a no-doubt-disgruntled Lucas di Grassi out onto a freshly wet track to an unsurprisingly non-stellar time.

Rowland bested his standout group performance to a 1’11.903 but Vandoorne once again proved unbeatable in the conditions, taking his debut Formula E pole by several tenths on a 1’11.580

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Superpole

Position Driver Team Time
1 Stoffel Vandoorne Venturi 1’11.580
2 Oliver Rowland Nissan e.Dams 1’11.903
3 Gary Paffett Venturi 1’12.310
4 Andre Lotterer DS Techeetah 1’13.033
5 Lucas di Grassi Audi 1’14.177

Full qualifying results:

Qualifying

Position Driver Team Time
1 Stoffel Vandoorne Venturi 1’11.580
2 Oliver Rowland Nissan e.Dams 1’11.903
3 Gary Paffett Venturi 1’12.310
4 Andre Lotterer DS Techeetah 1’13.033
5 Lucas di Grassi Audi 1’14.177
6 Sam Bird Envision Virgin 1’12.529
7 Sebastien Buemi Nissan e.Dams 1’12.529
8 Felipe Massa Venturi 1’12.570
9 Robin Frijns Envision Virgin 1’12.600
10 Tom Dillman NIO 1’12.839
11 Daniel Abt Audi 1’12.850
12 Alexander Sims BMWi Andretti 1’12.861
13 Jose-Maria Lopez GEOX Dragon 1’13.073
14 Nelson Piquet Jr Jaguar 1’13.421
15 Felipe Nasr GEOX Dragon 1’13.885
16 Mitch Evans Jaguar 1’13.920
17 Olvier Turvey NIO 1’14.133
18 Antonio Felix da Costa BMWi Andretti 1’14.384
19 Pascal Wehrlein Mahindra 1’14.830
20 Jerome D’Ambrosio Mahindra 1’15.347
21 Jean-Eric Vergne DS Techeetah DSQ’00.000

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