Buemi romps to pole position in Berlin

by Nathan Hine
Sebastien Buemi - Berlin Templehof Airport Formula E Qualifying

Nissan e. dams driver Sebastien Buemi took pole position for the 2019 Berlin ePrix after beating Stoffel Vandoorne by almost four tenths of a second around the Berlin Templehof Airport Circuit with a phenomenal lap from the Swiss racer.

And after failing to capitalize on his pole position back in Santiago, Buemi will hope to make full use of his starting position to win his first Formula E race in two years as the 2015-16 Formula E Champion is yet to return to the top step of the podium since the 2017 Berlin ePrix.

The two DS Techeetah drivers of Jean-Eric Vergne and Andre Lotterer were the first to head out onto the racetrack in qualifying group one, but it was Envision Virgin Racing driver Robin Frijns who was the first driver to head onto his full-power qualifying lap. But with the cold conditions and with him feeling something was wrong with his car, the Dutchman set a lap that was some nine tenths of a second slower than the eventual group-topping lap set by Lucas Di Grassi on a 1 min 7.926 s, with Antonio Felix Da Costa just 87-thousandths of a second slower and championship leader Jean-Eric Vergne only a tenth of a second further behind. But dramatically, Andre Lotterer did not get across the line in time to start his flying lap, so will be likely to start the race from the back of the grid.

The second qualifying group for the 2019 Berlin ePrix saw Nissan e. dams driver Oliver Rowland the first to set to his qualifying lap. Despite taking pole position in three of the last four races, the British driver could only manage the sixth quickest time after his qualifying lap, with Sam Bird and Mitch Evans struggling even more with the seventh and eighth quickest laps after group two while Mahindra Racing driver Jerome D’ Ambrosio put in the fifth quickest time so far. Meanwhile, Daniel Abt set a lap time within 27-thousandths of his team-mate Lucas Di Grassi, thus showing the effects of group one qualifying might not be as extreme as it has been in previous races.

Alexander Sims was the first driver to head out onto the track in group three and went fastest with a 1 min 07.8 s, but he was later bettered by both Sebastien Buemi and Stoffel Vandoorne in quick succession with the Belgian setting a benchmark of a 1 min 07.619 s. But after showing great pace and great promise in practice yesterday, the Venturi Formula E Team struggled with Edoardo Mortara and Felipe Massa only managing to go twelfth and fourteenth after their laps in group three, while there was further disappointment for Pascal Wehrlein as the Mahindra driver could only manage ninth on the grid at best and was out-qualified by his team-mate Jerome D’Ambrosio.

The final qualifying group got underway with Tom Dillmann in the NIO Formula E Team car only managing a lap six tenths off the pace to go fourteenth, with his team-mate Oliver Turvey continuing the trend of out-qualifying the Frenchman. While GEOX Dragon Racing have shown pace on occasion, there was disappointment down at the American outfit as Maxmillian Gunther only managed fifteenth while his team-mate Jose Maria Lopez will start this afternoon’s race from twentieth on the grid. However, both Alex Lynn for Panasonic Jaguar Racing and Gary Paffett in the HWA RaceLab managed to get through into SuperPole, thus displacing Antonio Felix Da Costa and Daniel Abt in the fight for pole position in Berlin.

The SuperPole session started with Lucas Di Grassi taking the track and the Brazilian managed a solid lap to set a benchmark lap time of a 1 min 07.719 s, but he had a wide moment at the first corner. Next to take to the track was Jaguar Racing’s Alex Lynn, and despite bettering the Brazilian in sector one, he ultimately could only muster a time that was a tenth away from the Audi driver. Gary Paffett also put together a solid lap, but could not better Di Grassi’s efforts, with the British driver 64-thousandths of a second slower. The Brits continued to fail to beat Di Grassi as BMW i Andretti Motorsport driver Alex Sims could not manage a clean lap, which ultimately meant he was three tenths adrift of the Brazilian.

But Buemi succeeded where the Brits could not as he managed a laptime some four tenths quicker than the Brazilian after a mighty sector three from the Swiss driver. And despite the best efforts of Vandoorne, the Belgian could not manage to better Buemi’s time after losing three and a half tenths of a second in the final sector.

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