Wehrlein storms to Mexico City pole position

by Nathan Hine
Mahindra Racing- Autodromo Hermanos Rodriguez (Qualifying)

Pascal Wehrlein has taken his first pole position in Formula E for the 2019 Mexico City ePrix for the fourth round of the 2018-19 ABB FIA Formula E Championship to be some three-tenths of a second clear of Lucas Di Grassi in the Audi Sport Abt Schaeffler car.

After taking his first podium in the all-electric single-seater racing series last time out in Santiago, the German has now taken his first pole position here at the Autodromo Hermanos Rodriguez and will hope to take his first race victory this afternoon.

As the first qualifying group got underway, Envision Virgin Racing driver and championship leader, Sam Bird, headed out onto the racetrack first, closely followed by second in the points, Jerome D’ Ambrosio. But Bird was forced to park the car on his out-lap due to a suspected drivetrain failure, meaning the points leader will start at the back of the grid.

This brought out a yellow flag while D’ Ambrosio was on his flying lap, which held him up in terms of time, but the Belgian was blocked by Robin Frijns into the stadium section, and was slowest of the four drivers completing a lap over six-tenths off the leading time from the session and will start the race from nineteenth on the grid.  Antonio Felix Da Costa the fastest man in the first session, with Jean-Eric Vergne just two-hundredths of a second behind him, but will only start from eighth position on the grid, with Frijns over a half a second behind, provisionally lining up in seventh position, but is under investigation for blocking D’ Ambrosio.

The second qualifying session in Mexico City saw Alexander Sims head out first and slotted into second position just two hundredths of a second behind team-mate Da Costa at the time, but ended up falling to P7 at the end of the group qualifying.

Andre Lotterer managed a decent lap to go fifth place at the time, but track evolution means that the German will start the race from twelfth position. Mitch Evans was left dealing with a wildly fish-tailing Panasonic Jaguar Racing car and will start only from eighteenth, while Daniel Abt had a session to forget with his lap-time puts him twenty-first on the grid.  Wehrlein however managed a stunning lap to go second in overall group qualifying.

Edoardo Mortara was first out in the third session and slotted into fifth position with an early effort. Jose Maria Lopez was next to go, but after a good first two sectors from the Argentine, he overcooked the final sector to slot into fifteenth position at the end of the session.

Oliver Turvey managed an impressive tenth place starting spot for the NIO Formula E driver and after scoring points in Santiago, the former podium finisher will be hoping for more success here in Mexico City. The two Nissan drivers of Oliver Rowland and Sebastien Buemi put in a decent effort to get into the Super Pole session, topping over group qualifying with a sensational lap from the Englishman.

Felipe Massa was straight out as group four got underway and turned it up to full-power at the end of his out-lap to put his Venturi Formula E Team car third in his performance of the season thus far.

Fellow ex-Formula 1 driver Stoffel Vandoorne didn’t have as much luck with only twentieth on the grid for the Belgian. Felipe Nasr outqualified his team-mate Lopez, but complained with a lack of balance which places him only fourteenth in his first Formula E start. Nelson Piquet Jr made a mistake at turn six which lost him a couple of tenths of a second which meant he could only manage eleventh place for the race the afternoon.

The Super Pole session saw Da Costa head out first as the only driver from the first qualifying group with a benchmark time of 59.819 s. Sebastien Buemi in the first of the Nissan cars was next to go out and play but was over a tenth shy of the Portuguese racer’s time.

Lucas Di Grassi went fastest to back him his qualifying performance in Santiago with another strong effort from the Brazilian. Another surprise from Felipe Massa, as the Brazilian slotted four hundredths of a second behind his fellow countryman. Pascal Wehrlein blitzed it with a time three-tenths quicker than Di Grassi, but had to hold out to see if he would be denied. Oliver Rowland couldn’t deny the Mahindra Racing driver as he made a couple of key mistakes on the lap, riding the curb into turn six and locked up into turns 14/15/16 which left him down in fourth position. This meant that Wehrlein took his first pole position in Formula E in only his fourth race in the championship, setting himself up with a strong chance to win the race this afternoon.

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