Sebastian Buemi will once again rue a lacklustre qualifying that sees him start in eighth for the Long Beach ePrix, with the Renault e.Dams unable to find the speed to see him into the super pole session. With less than a hundredth of a second margin, Antonio Felix Da Costa saw a speedy practice session carry into qualifying, and the Aguri driver heads Sam Bird to take pole, with Lucas Di Grassi, Stephane Sarrazin and Nick Heidfeld making up the top five.
In group sessions, championship leader Sebastian Buemi was first on track, keen to set a strong time and make up for mistakes that have haunted his qualifying. Bird set an initially quick first sector, despite a lock up, and posting a fantastic time of 56.8, closely followed by Robin Frijns with a 57.1. Buemi’s lap was clean, but suffered oversteer and lost time coasting too long into the first corner, placing him initially in P3. The Dragon Racing car of Jerome D’Ambrosio, clearly struggling with pace, and the unruly NEXTEV of Oliver Turvey made up remaining positions in the group.
Echoing his teammate, Renault e.Dams of Nico Prost headed out first in the second group, followed by the Dragon of Loic Duval. Despite a clean lap for the e.Dams driver, Prost could only post a time of 57.284, suffering similar pace issues. Despite a detour into the wall, leaving the car jerking around the track, Duval pushed hard to set a lap time, but struggled into seventh. Stephane Sarrazin excelled in the Venturi car, immediately taking P2 with a lap time of 57.1, and pushing Sebastian Buemi down into P4. Despite a strong practice, Simona de Silvestro could only muster a 57.6, seeing the Andretti into P7.
Making the most of a clean track, Daniel Abt looked to capitalise on his pace in second practice, heading out first in the third group, followed by Nelson Piquet. Despite a clean exit into his 200kW lap, and a tidy lap, Abt could only set a time 2 tenths down on Sam Bird. Nelson Piquet’s struggles continued as he pushed hard to fight the slow NEXTEV car into P10. Claiming discomfort with braking, Jean-Eric Vergne could not match the success of his teammate and took P8, with Salvador Duran taking P12. With the final group containing Di Grassi and Da Costa, Buemi’s super pole hopes seemed slim, with the Renault e.Dams driver hanging on in P5.
Di Grassi immediately put paid to his championship rival’s hopes, with a strong lap that saw him take P2, pushing Buemi out of the super pole shoot-out. However, it was the Aguri of Da Costa, and the Mahindra of Nick Heidfeld that posted the biggest surprises, taking P2 and P3 respectively, with remaining group members Bruno Senna only able to take P10, and after a strong run in practice, a disappointing P16 for Venturi’s Mike Conway.
A super pole session of Bird, Da Costa, Heidfeld, Di Grassi, and Sarrazin, saw the Venturi driver suffer oversteer, but a relatively tidy lap, with an initial time of 57.4. Similar oversteer issues in the corners struck Lucas Di Grassi, but good momentum saw an initial P1, with a 57.2 lap. Despite a quick first sector, Nick Heidfeld struggled after missing the hairpin and running wide, finishing over half a second down on Di Grassi’s time, seeing him into an initial P3. Da Costa’s lap appeared to hold no guarantees, with initial oversteer, but the Aguri driver committed, carrying speed and finding a perfect exit out of the hairpin, to a time of 57.198 and provisional pole. Despite improvement in the second sector, using the limits of the kerb, a slower first sector saw Bird set a time of 57.261, just missing out on P1.
Full Qualifying Results:
Antonio Felix Da Costa (Team Aguri) – 57.198
Sam Bird (DS Virgin Racing) – 57.261
Lucas Di Grassi (Abt Schaeffler Audi Sport) – 57.270
Stephane Sarrazin (Venturi) – 57.412
Nick Heidfeld – (Mahindra) -57.825
Robin Frijns (Andretti) – 57.145
Daniel Abt (Abt Schaeffler) – 57.151
Sebastian Buemi (Renault E.Dams) – 57.189
Nico Prost (Renault E.Dams) – 57.284
Jerome D’Ambrosio (Dragon Racing) – 57.288
Bruno Senna (Mahindra Racing) – 57.383
Jean-Eric Vergne (DS Virgin Racing) – 57.496
Simona De Silvestro (Andretti) – 57.696
Oliver Turvey (NEXTEV TCR) – 57.952
Nelson Piquet Jr (NEXTEV TCR) – 58.015
Mike Conway (Venturi) – 58.144
Salvador Duran (Team Aguri) – 58.417
Loic Duval (Dragon Racing) – 59.049