After a frenetic Saturday in the first of the double-header that will decide the second FIA Formula E championship, qualifying today would prove crucial in what promises to be a tense decider in London’s Battersea Park this afternoon.
In contrast to yesterday’s rainy session, all four groups benefitted from dry weather. The first qualifying group saw reigning champion Nelson Piquet Jr, joined by Sam Bird, Loic Duval, Jerome D’Ambrosio, and yesterday’s victor, Renault e.Dams’ Nico Prost. Prost was first to the track, and pushed hard to set a 200kW lap of 1.22:878, followed by the DS Virgin of Sam Bird – hoping to retain third in the championship – a full second behind (1.23:930), with Piquet Jr (1.23:937) and the Dragon Pair of Duval and D’Ambrosio posting near identical times of 1.23:938 and 1.23:952 respectively.
In group 2, championship hopeful Lucas Di Grassi was the first to leave the pits, setting a 200kW lap of 1.23:245, marginally slower than the eDams team. Mike Conway (1.24:054), Simona de Silvestro (1.24:823) and Ma Qing Ha (1.26.259) made 8th through 10th with their laps.
Group 3 saw all eyes on Sebastien Buemi, and it came as no surprise that the Renault eDams was as quick as Lucas Di Grassi had feared, setting a 200kW time of 1.22:106, seeing him at the top of the time sheets. Heidfeld’s time of 1.23:343 looked enough to see him into the super pole, with Daniel Abt just behind at 1.23:343, and Antonio Felix da Costa unlikely to trouble the top five, with a 1.24:273.
The final group saw NEXTEV’s Turvey take second overall, with a 200kW lap of 1.23.183, pushing Lucas Di Grassi down into fourth place overall, and continuing to shine on his impressive weekend. Bruno Senna (1.24.171), Stephane Sarrazin (1.24:311) and Robin Frijns (1.24:655) rounded out the group stages.
The Super Pole shootout contained Heidfeld, Prost, Turvey, and crucially the championship challengers, Di Grassi and Buemi. Heidfeld took to track first, setting a time of 1.24:827, immediately beaten by Di Grassi with a 1.22:975, a time – crucially – not as quick as either of the eDams team in the group sessions. Oliver Turvey seemed promising, quicker than Di Grassi in the first sector, but only setting a time of 1.23:685. Renault eDams were the last to track, and capitalised on their incredible pace, much to the chagrin of Di Grassi, seen pressing his head to the wall in frustration. Nico Prost edged past the Brazilian to take second with a 1.22:948, before Buemi took the prime position needed for his championship hopes, with a 1.22.033.
The results see the two championship contenders take pole (Buemi) and third (Di Grassi) respectively, and enter the race with 150 championship points each. With Buemi’s teammate Nico Prost as a buffer to keep the hungry Brazilian at bay, the race promises to be an explosive finale to the second FIA Formula E season. Tune in at 4pm to catch the action, and keep checking EV Performance for all the latest updates live from the track!