Felix Rosenqvist has started the second half of the season in the best possible fashion by taking pole position for the inaugural Rome ePrix by 0.676 seconds. The Swede has been on fire all weekend, and after a getting through to the super-pole session despite a scrappy lap in group qualifying, he lay it all on the line to take his second pole of the season.
When qualifying got underway, it was action from the word go: home-town hero Luca Filippi and the Dragon Racing car of Jerome D’Ambrosio took the checkered flag before they had a chance to complete a full-power lap. Meanwhile, it was another disappointing session from Nico Prost who will start from fifteenth, one place behind Maro Engel in the Venturi who both complained of the slippy conditions. Tom Blomqvist however took his joint best qualifying result of twelfth place for the MS & AD Andretti Formula E team, and will hope to score his first points since the Marrakesh ePrix.
The second session saw the usual solid performance from the top guys in the championship, with Rosenqvist, Sam Bird and Sebastien Buemi all making it into super-pole. However, championship leader Jean-Eric Vergne does not look comfortable in the Techeetah this weekend and the Frenchman will have to fight from eighth on the grid after a disappointing qualifying session. Nelson Piquet Jr meanwhile had a huge slide at the bus-stop and a messy exit out of the final corner cost him over a second, leaving him down in thirteenth place.
The third qualifying session got juicy, with some of the big hitters taking to the track. Daniel Abt was the first to complete his qualifying run, but didn’t look entirely comfortable in the ABT Schaeffler Audi Sport car, and will line up ninth. Team-mate Lucas Di Grassi was determined to get his season back on track, but a small mistake in the final sector was enough to cost him a slot in super-pole, but is still in a good place to challenge in the race, starting sixth on the grid.
Edoardo Mortara meanwhile had contact with the wall on the exit of turn five, damaging the rear of the car badly, but after errors from others, snaked his way across the line to start seventeenth. Mitch Evans drove a clean lap in the Panasonic Jaguar Racing car, and was able to sneak into his second consecutive super-pole session in a row. Oliver Turvey maintained his strong qualifying record for the Nio Formula E team, starting the race seventh which will help make up for Filippi’s timing error.
The final group qualifying session will have a few more surprises in store- firstly the pit lane contact between Antonio Felix Da Costa and Jose Maria Lopez which ended both of their sessions there and then. In which Felix Da Costa was released straight into the path of the Dragon Racing car, and wrecked both of their sessions, and will start last and second last on the grid.
Nick Heidfeld was the first to run, and after a difficult few ePrix from the German, he qualified a solid tenth place on the grid. Just behind him was Alex Lynn who was a bit more conservative in his approach after crashing in both practice sessions this morning. But the biggest surprise was to come, with despite an average first two sectors, Andre Lotterer aced the final sector to get through to another Formula E super-pole session, knocking out defending FE champion Lucas Di Grassi.
The super-pole session began with Mitch Evans first to head out, setting a solid marker of a 1 min 37.1 for the Kiwi. Sam Bird went next, and after learning from Lotterer’s lap, was able to carry much more speed in the final sector to beat Evans’s lap despite a hairy moment through turns 8/9. Buemi meanwhile after a good first two sectors, threw a second away at the turn thirteen hairpin, so will start fifth on the grid.
But it didn’t make much difference, as Felix Rosenqvist delivered a lap which will go down in Formula E history, beating Sam Bird by over six-tenths of a second. And after not being able to repeat his final sector from group qualifying, Lotterer would line up fourth, and Rosenqvist on pole by the largest margin in ABB FIA Formula E history ahead of the race this afternoon.