Monaco E-Prix – Sacha Fenestraz took his second pole of the year after winning the final duel with Jake Hughes but he is under investigation.
The Jaguars led the way out as qualifying started, after a beautifully sunny start to the day the drivers were greeted by cloud cover and the threat of rain as they got the battle for pole underway.
The first time on the board was a 1:31.604 from Sam Bird and at the halfway point, when some of the cars started to return to the pits, it was the DS Penske cars of Jean-Eric Vergne and Stoffel Vandoorne on top, Vergne with a 1:30.566, while Mitch Evans and Sacha Fenestraz were in the other duel places.
Qualifying Results – 2023 Monaco E-Prix
The two Penskes however were under investigation for a potential technical infraction. There were a few different strategies on display, Andre Lotterer, Pascal Wehrlein and Robin Frijns remained out all session while the Jaguars pitted later than most others and only had time for a single fast lap at the end.
The timesheets completely changed after the chequered flag, Lotterer initially going fastest but was shuffled back to P5 by the time all cars had finished their laps. It ended with a brilliant result for Nissan with Norman Nato setting a 1:30.138 to go P1 while his teammate, Sacha Fenestraz, was just 0.011 seconds back in P2. They were joined in the progression positions by Dan Ticktum and Evans.
After the session though Vergne and Vandoorne had all their times cancelled for tyre pressure infringements, they had taken P8 and P6 respectively.
Jake Hughes was the first to emerge from the pits when the second group started and put in a 1:31.014 as his first timed lap. Like the Penskes, Sergio Sette Camara was put under investigation near the start of his session for a technical infringement. Buemi was also put under investigation a little later.
At the half way point Maximilian Guenther, Nick Cassidy, Sette Camara and Lucas di Grassi were in the top four spots while Antonio Felix da Costa, had reported some front left damage after hitting the wall but remained out on track. Da Costa and Nico Mueller were the only two not to pit in group B, while di Grassi, Buemi and Oliver Rowland were the later ones in pits with Rowland only emerging with about a minute forty five on the clock.
At the end Cassidy was on a very quick lap but traffic at the end of the lap saw him lose a lot of time and only manage P5. Guenther ended top with a 1:30.175 with Hughes, Edoardo Mortara and Sette Camara set to join him in the duels.
Quarter-finals – Ticktum vs Fenestraz, Evans vs Nato, Mortara vs Hughes, Sette Camara vs Guenther
As the first duel started it was announced that Sette Camara had some of his group times deleted but it seemed his fastest effort was left so he would appear in the duels.
QF1 Ticktum had the early advantage but Fenestraz was a little faster over sector 1 and continued that momentum through the rest of the lap to take the duel by almost three tenths.
QF2 There was less than a tenth in it between the two in the opening sector but the advantage was with Evans. That changed though in the middle part with Nato being the quicker and then he extended that in the run to the chequered flag to secure an all-Nissan semi-final and ensure that there will be a Nissan on the front row.
QF3 A very close first sector saw Hughes ahead by just 0.015 seconds but the papaya machine was the faster, he extended his lead in the second sector and in the end stopped one of the Maserati team’s chances at a home pole by four tenths.
QF4 It was close but Maserati’s second hope didn’t look promising as Guenther was up over a tenth but Sette Camara was the better over the course of sector one and extended his lead over sector two. Guenther was able to pull a bit back at the end but the NIO 333 was over three and a half tenths ahead at the flag.
However, Sette Camara was under investigation for qualifying procedure as it seemed there was some confusion over which of the two sets of lights in the pitlane the Brazilian should be obeying.
Semi-finals – Nato vs Fenestraz, Guenther vs Hughes
There was a slight delay as the stewards had a look at the issue and then cancelled the NIO 333 driver’s best lap (later corrected to disqualification from the duels), but whether Guenther would go through in his stead or it would be a walkover for Hughes was a mystery for another minute.
SF1 Nissan vs Nissan. Fenestraz was almost a tenth and a half up in the opening third of the lap. Nato equalled his teammate’s time in the middle sector but it was a rapid end from the rookie to put in the fastest lap time so far and he’ll go on to battle for pole.
SF2 There wasn’t even a tenth between the two duellists in sector one but it was a slow sector two for the German and there was no chance for Guenther to pull it back at the end so Hughes once again knocked a Maserati out of the duels.
Final – Hughes vs Fenestraz
Less than four hundredths separated the two over the opening sector, however some oversteer for Hughes at the hairpin and then going too deep at the chicane after the tunnel saw the advantage fall away from Hughes and it will be Fenestraz who leads the pack away at the start of the race.
However, things might change as after the duel the stewards announced that the Nissan racer was under investigation for a technical infraction apparently for power release. Similarly Guenther would be subject to an investigation for a driving infringement.
Currently Nato and Guenther are set to share the second row while Ticktum and Evans will be P5 and P6. Row four has Mortara and Sette Camara while Lotterer and Cassidy round out the top ten.