Alexander Sims claimed his first ABB FIA Formula E pole position on the streets of New York City as the BMW i Andretti Motorsport driver beat Robin Frijns by 95-thousandths of a second.
That was despite Sebastien Buemi putting in a great benchmark lap-time of a 1 min 09.729 as the first driver to set a time in Super Pole, but the Swiss was ultimately beaten first by Frijns and then Sims to start third for this afternoon’s race, which now means that Buemi has fallen out of championship contention.
The first qualifying group included the four men who are still still in title contention at the start of the day with Buemi ultimately going fastest of the bunch, some 60-thousandths faster than Mitch Evans. Lucas Di Grassi was also able to get in front of Jean-Eric Vergne, and they were two tenths of a second slower than both Evans and Buemi. But it was Antonio Felix Da Costa who paid the biggest price for being in group one as the Portuguese racer will start the race from fourteenth place after being a third of a second off Buemi’s benchmark time.
With the track already rubbered in from a day of racing yesterday, it was expected that there would not be a massive track evolution from yesterday, but the second qualifying session soon dismissed that theory. After Jerome D’ Ambrosio set his lap to qualify sixteenth, first Sam Bird, then Robin Frijns and finally Daniel Abt all went faster than the championship contenders, but were separated by 23-thousandths of a second.
Andre Lotterer meanwhile after being eliminated from the title race yesterday endured another terrible qualifying session as the German made a major error on his lap to line up only twentieth on the grid.
The third qualifying group also contained some major players for pole position. First out were the two Brits of Oliver Rowland and Alexander Sims, with the BMW driver trying to pass his fellow countryman on his out-lap before finally making the move before he entered his preparation lap.
But it was Venturi Formula E driver Edoardo Mortara who was the first driver to start his 250 KW lap and despite a mega final sector, he will ultimately end up starting from tenth on the grid. Sims was the first man to set a Super Pole lap with the BMW driver’s 1 min 09.690 and was shortly followed by Stoffel Vandoorne, who a set a time within a tenth and a half of the Brit.
But despite showing great pace in qualifying throughout the year, Rowland will start only seventh while Pascal Wehrlein made a major mistake and will start the last race of the season from eighteenth on the grid while Felipe Massa locked up at turn six which will see him start the last race of the season from last on the grid.
The final qualifying session was about whether anyone could displace Sebastien Buemi in the fight to get into Super Pole. Ultimately, nobody could. Jose Maria Lopez was first to set a time and managed a laptime good enough for thirteenth and will therefore start the race directly behind championship leader Jean-Eric Vergne.
Tom Dillmann and Oliver Turvey could not manage much better, with Turvey fifteenth and Dillmann seventeenth. But it was the efforts of the two other Brits that were of interest. Alex Lynn made a mistake in sector one which has seen him qualify in twenty-first position, while Gary Paffett was held up by Dillmann on his in-lap and ultimately cost him a chance to be in Super Pole by a sleeping Frenchman in the final sector.
Buemi was up first and the Swiss racer put in a fabulous opening gambit of a 1 min 09.729 which he hoped would be enough to be good enough for pole position to keep his championship hopes alive. Bird was not able to beat his effort after a few snatches on the brake cost him a tenth and a half relative to Buemi.
Despite being behind the Swiss racer after the first two sectors, an inspired final sector from Frijns put him on provisional pole and meant that Buemi was now out of the championship running. Daniel Abt went next and was 0.384s off the pace, with Vandoorne a tenth of a second ahead of the German. But after going quickest in aggregate qualifying, Sims performed when it mattered and took his first Formula E pole position on the streets of New York City.