Hyderabad E-Prix – Mitch Evans will start on pole in the inaugural Formula E race in India later today, he’ll have Jean-Eric Vergne alongside him on row one.
NIO 333’s Sergio Sette Camara was the first to take to the track in Hyderabad but he wasn’t alone for long as all participants were out on circuit before the Brazilian had completed his out lap. Sette Camara opened the timing with a 1:15.350 but it was Sacha Fenestraz on top with a 1:14.446 after the first round of times were completed.
Sette Camara and Pascal Wehrlein were the first to head back to the pits and just as the NIO driver was headed back out, the rest of group A, apart from Lucas di Grassi, headed to their garages. At that stage Mitch Evans was in P1 with a 1:14.194 with Fenestraz, Oliver Rowland and Sette Camara himself in the duel positions.
As the clock ticked down past the two minute mark all drivers were headed back on track which was bad news for Wehrlein who had gone out slightly earlier and then had a whole line of traffic ahead of him on a fast lap, and he had to abandon the lap.
At the end it was Jake Hughes who posted the fastest lap of the session with a 1:14.121 but the McLaren racer is under investigation for being in the pits for less than the required minimum pit stop time – he spent 95 seconds in the pits when 100 is specified. Evans and Fenestraz were both within 0.083 seconds of the Brit while Sebastien Buemi took the final duel place with a time three tenths slower.
Neither of the Mahindras will be represented in the duels with Oliver Rowland only managing P7 while Lucas di Grassi wasn’t able to get a final lap in as the rear of his car got a bit out of shape and had to go through the runoff.
During the second group qualifying Race Control announced that Hughes would have his two best lap times cancelled which would mean he won’t progress to the duels so that would move Evans, Fenestraz and Buemi into P1-3 with Maximilian Guenther taking P4.
As he was in FP1 this morning, Andre Lotterer was the first out in his group 1:15.164 and after everyone had got a time in it was Jean-Eric Vergne’s 1:14.095 in P1 while Rene Rast and Sam Bird were within a tenth while Nico Mueller was four and a half tenths off in P4.
The session was Red Flagged halfway through as Kelvin van der Linde’s ABT Cupra had another issue which saw him pull off and stop in the runoff after T17.
When the session got back underway all but Rast headed back out, the McLaren driver remaining in his garage until there was two and a half minutes left. The German was the first to take the chequered flag and went P1 by 0.004 over Vergne. Bird took P3 and, the only other driver to improve on their final lap, Edoardo Mortara managed to snatch the final duel position from Nick Cassidy by 0.001 seconds.
Quarter-finals – Buemi vs Fenestraz, Guenther vs Evans, Bird vs Vergne, Mortara vs Rast
QF1 – It was advantage Buemi in the opening sector, just over a tenth quicker than Fenestraz, the Nissan driver did manage to close up and even pull 0.028 seconds ahead in the middle sector, Buemi had the better final sector and put
QF2 – Guenther was slightly ahead in the first few corners that was the only time he had the advantage, some errors from the Maserati driver and a strong lap for Evans meant the Jaguar racer was over a second quicker at the end.
QF3 – While Bird was very wide at the first chicane he still managed to be the quicker over the first sector, he and Vergne were pretty equal in the middle of the lap and while the Penske driver was much quicker in the final part he wasn’t quite able to close the gap and Bird got through by 0.036 seconds.
QF4 – Very little in it in Sector 1 but Mortara was just quicker despite a big slide from Rast, the McLaren had closed up and even pulled ahead but he pushed a little too hard and went wide at the end of the lap and lost half a second.
Semi-finals – Buemi vs Evans, (
Mortara vs Bird) Vergne vs
There was a delay before the second round of duels started as there was an investigation into whether Bird had gone over the track limits on his outlap, which meant Vergne remained sitting in his car just in case. Then it was revealed that both Bird and Mortara had gone over track limits so the two of them would have their times deleted.
That would probably mean that those they defeated in the quarter finals would take their places – Vergne instead of Bird, and Rast instead of Mortara – but then the German’s time was also deleted due to track limits so Vergne wouldn’t have an opponent in his duel and would progress to the final unchallenged.
SF1 – There was barely anything in it over the first sector with a slight advantage to Evans but as the lap progressed, the Kiwi just went quicker each sector and was the clear winner over Buemi.
SF2 – Vergne set a time quicker than he did in his quarter final but still a couple of tenths slower than Evans’ lap.
Final – Vergne vs Evans
While Evans did seem to have the advantage at the start, Vergne pulled the time back to be slightly faster over the first sector, it continued as a very close fought duel with the two setting times to the same tenth each sector and despite Evans only being the faster in the middle of the lap it was enough to see him 0.021 seconds quicker than the Penske driver over the course of the lap to be the first polesitter in Hyderabad.
Having learnt their lesson with Bird earlier, Jaguar waited to celebrate until the track limit replay was shown and they were sure Evans had stayed within, or at least on, the line.
Buemi will start P3 with Fenestraz alongside him on row two. Guenther slots into P5 while those with the deleted quarter-finals times – Bird, Mortara and Rast – complete the top eight. The rest of group A take the remaining odd numbered places so that will see Wehrlein take p9 ahead of Cassidy. Thanks to his two best times being deleted, Hughes fell from P1 in group A to last so he’ll be on the back row just ahead of van der Linde.