Lotterer grabs pole for Rome ePrix despite half-spin

by Nathan Hine
Andre Lotterer - DS Techeetah - Rome ePrix

Andre Lotterer took pole position for the 2019 Rome ePrix for the seventh round of the 2018-19 ABB FIA Formula E Championship in changeable conditions.

The track condition between group qualifying and Super Pole saw Lotterer have the best conditions to take his first pole position, but it almost slipped away after a mistake at turn 15, but such was the improvements in the final sector that he beat Panasonic Jaguar Racing driver Mitch Evans by three-tenths of a second.

The first qualifying group got underway with Lucas Di Grassi heading out on track first, closely followed by Jerome D’ Ambrosio and Sam Bird. But before Bird even started his flying lap, he ran wide into turn four which meant that he had to go straight to full power, but despite it being a seemingly scrappy lap from the Englishman, Bird went second in the session, less than a tenth off Antonio Felix Da Costa.

Jean-Eric Vergne wrapped up third in the opening session ahead of  Di Grassi with Mahindra Racing driver Jerome D’ Ambrosio three tenths off Da Costa to go slowest in the opening session.

The second qualifying group saw Edoardo Mortara head the pack with the Venturi Formula E driver four-tenths quicker than Da Costa, with Pascal Wehrlein a couple of tenths slower to go second fastest, but DS Techeetah driver Andre Lotterer went six tenths quicker than Mortara to make it into Super Pole. Robin Frijns went third, thus splitting Mortara and Wehrlein, but Daniel Abt made a mistake on his lap to go ninth after two qualifying sessions.

Qualifying group three saw Alexander Sims head out first and after a slow first sector from the BMW i Andretti Motorsport driver, but after the jump at turn nine, he lost power, so was forced to park up.

The red flag was pulled again just as Oliver Rowland and Mitch Evans came out of the final corner, with Rowland classified thirteenth and Evans second. But along with rest of the drivers in the third qualifying group, they were forced to run again, with Evans’ and Rowland’s laps cancelled. After the red flag, Felipe Massa went out first and provisionally went sixth for the time being, but was soon displaced as Sebastien Buemi went third and then Evans went second yet again, just a tenth and a half off the mightily impressive lap from Lotterer. Meanwhile, Sanya ePrix pole man Rowland provisionally went eighth, while Oliver Turvey continued to struggle and could only finish fourteenth after three qualifying groups.

The final qualifying group got underway with  a few raindrops starting to fall on the Circuito Cittadino dell’EUR. But that did not seem to effect the performance as Stoffel Vandoorne got into Super Pole yet again, but his team-mate Gary Paffett could only get thirteenth, while Tom Dillmann was slowest of those who set a lap and will start the race from twenty-first on the grid. But the big winners of group four were the two GEOX Dragon Racing drivers with Jose Maria Lopez in third and Max Gunther in fourth.

There was more rain between group qualifying and Super Pole at the bottom of the circuit and after running wide at turn thirteen on his out-lap, Buemi had a relatively clean lap to a set a benchmark of a 1m36.331. Gunther was next to run and went seven tenths quicker than the Swiss racer, before Vandoorne went next and did a clean lap to go 2.4 seconds quicker than Gunther.

The second GEOX Dragon Racing driver of Jose Maria Lopez was next to run and he went even faster, going three-tenths faster than the HWA Racelab driver, but Evans went half a second quicker with a 1 min 32.483.

Andre Lotterer was last to run and had the best of the conditions and despite half-spinning the car at turn 15, he took pole position by three-tenths of a second to take his first Formula E pole position and will be looking for his first win later this afternoon.

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