Formula E

Vandoorne snatches pole position in wet Hong Kong qualifying

3 Mins read
Stoffel Vandoorne- HWA Racelab- Hong Kong
Credit: HWA Racelab

Stoffel Vandoorne claimed his first pole position of his ABB FIA Formula E career at the 2019 Hong Kong ePrix in very wet conditions in Hong Kong in only the fifth race for HWA Racelab as the all-new outfit for the 2018-19 ABB FIA Formula E Championship by four tenths of a second over fellow rookie for the Nissan e. dams Team, Oliver Rowland, who will both be looking to score points this afternoon, with Andre Lotterer tucked up behind the rookie pairing in third.

The first qualifying group saw the worst of the conditions with the two Mahindra Racing cars of championship leader Jerome D’ Ambrosio and rookie sensation Pascal Wehrlein heading out first, which saw them have a disastrous session, with Wehrlein in 21st, just ahead of D’ Ambrosio in 22nd places. Antonio Felix Da Costa went next for BMW I-Andretti Motorsport  and despite being half a second quicker than Wehrlein, he would end qualifying 20th on the grid. As for Sam Bird and Lucas Di Grassi, the pair did a phenomenal job in the conditions to qualifying sixth and seventh respectively for the race this afternoon.

Group Two saw Mitch Evans head out first after missing 20-minutes of the Second Free Practice Session, but was held up in the final sector of his lap  by the DS Techeetah driver Andre Lotterer to provisionally go third, and would start the race from 17th on the grid after a disappointing result from the Panasonic Jaguar Racing driver. But Venturi Formula E driver Edoardo Mortara managed to find enough grip to provisionally go fastest. Meanwhile, defending series champion Jean-Eric Vergne finished his qualifying lap backwards for the second year running going provisionally fourth, but he was soon displaced by Robin Frijns, with Lotterer doing a good enough lap to provisionally go second at the end of the group.  Vergne’s lap was subsequently cancelled for causing the red flag at the end of the session, so will start the race this afternoon from eighteenth on the grid courtesy of his out-lap.

The sister Venturi driver Felipe Massa was out first in the third group and struggled to put down the power on his full-power lap to go only ninth at the end of qualifying. Oliver Rowland impressed yet again to provisionally go fastest while his Nissan e. dams team-mate, Sebastien Buemi only did a lap good enough for eighth by the end of qually. Meanwhile, Daniel Abt and Alexander Sims only managed ninth and tenth respectively which would turn into 11th and 12th once things had shaken out at the end of qualifying.

The Fourth qualifying group saw Gary Paffett in the HWA Racelab head out as the session started, quickly followed by his team-mate Stoffel Vandoorne and the NIO Formula E Team driver of Tom Dillmann. Paffett and Vandoorne managed to go first and second overall in group qualifying in the two HWA Racelab cars, which sees the German team have both of their cars in Super Pole for the first time. Shortly after, Tom Dillmann did a reasonably job to qualify in eleventh which should give him a good chance to score his first Formula E points for NIO. But the other three drivers: Jose Maria Lopez, Nelson Piquet Jr, and Felipe Nasr were struggling with aquaplaning in the second half of the session, going 14th, 15th and 16th respectively.

The Super Pole session was delayed as the rain intensified once again with Lucas Di Grassi heading out first, setting a benchmark time of a 1 min 14.177 s. Andre Lotterer was next to go out and after putting together a clean lap he went more than a second quicker than Di Grassi. Edoardo Mortara was next out and went half a second quicker than the German on a 1 min 12.310 s, but he was given a three-place grid drop for over speeding during a red flag following Vergne’s spin. He too was bettered by 4-tenths of a second by Nissan e. dams driver,Oliver Rowland. The 2018 DTM Champion Gary Paffett locked up into the first corner and only went fifth quickest, but will start fourth after Mortara’s penalty. Despite this, Stoffel Vandoorne managed to go three-tenths quicker in the final sector on a 1 min 11.580 to bag his first Formula E and HWA Racelab’s Formula E pole position for the race this afternoon.

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