Stoffel Vandoorne storms to maiden Formula E pole position in Hong Kong
Stoffel Vandoorne secured his maiden ABB FIA Formula E pole position in Hong Kong, beating Oliver Rowland to the fastest time for HWA Racelab.
Vandoorne, who joined Formula E for Season Five after a difficult two-year spell with McLaren in Formula 1, completed his initial qualifying run in the fourth and final group of runners, setting the fastest time of the group qualifying stages, posting a 1m 11.592s lap in wet and ever-evolving conditions.
With track conditions constantly improving as time passed by, Super Pole was a blend of runners from all four groups, with Gary Paffett, Rowland, Edoardo Mortara, Andre Lotterer and Lucas di Grassi joining Vandoorne inside the top six for the final shootout of qualifying.
As the slowest runner of the top six, it was Audi Sport Abt Schaeffler's di Grassi who opened Super Pole for the German marque, with the Season Three champion running deep into Turn 2 to ruin his hopes of pole position, laying down a benchmark time of a 1m 14.177s.
Completing a clean lap around the 1.860km-long Hong Kong Central Harbourfront Circuit, Lotterer eclipsed di Grassi's time as the second runner of the session for DS Techeetah, laying down a provisional pole position time of a 1m 12.868s lap.
As the third runner, Mortara quickly beat Lotterer's best efforts for pole position before the Swiss-Italian's time was soon beaten by Nissan e.dams' Rowland, with the Briton becoming the first driver of the session to dip under the 1m 12s barrier.
Having demonstrated clear form in first and second practice prior to qualifying, Paffett was the penultimate runner of Super Pole, however, by running deep into Turn 1, the reigning DTM champion's hope of a front-row starting spot quickly fell out of grasp.
Paffett's failure in Turn 1 left Vandoorne as Rowland's sole challenger, and with the Belgian racer improving corner by corner with growing confidence in his customer Venturi VFE05 package, when the driver cut to the timing beam at the end of his final 250kW run it was provisional pole position, posting a 1m 11.580s lap time.
By securing pole position, Vandoorne scored both his and HWA's maiden points in the all-electric single seater series while Rowland, who completed the front row of the grid, secured his highest qualifying position in the championship to date.
While Mortara ended qualifying with the third fastest time overall, the driver was handed a three-place grid penalty following an overspeed under red flag conditions in his group qualifying run which drops him to sixth on the grid, promoting Lotterer, Paffett and di Grassi into third, fourth and fifth respectively.
Outside of the Super Pole positions, Envision Virgin Racing's Sam Bird secured seventh on the grid while Season Two champion Sebastien Buemi was eighth in the second Nissan, with Felipe Massa and Robin Frijns completing the top 10.
Tom Dillmann secured a strong qualifying result for NIO, with the Frenchman securing the 11th fastest time while Daniel Abt was 12th in the second works Audi, followed by BMW's Alexander Sims in 13th and Jose Maria Lopez in 14th.
Inaugural Formula E champion Nelson Piquet Jr emerged as the lead Jaguar driver by completing the top 15 while Felipe Nasr, who made his debut in the series at last month's Mexico City E-Prix was 16th fastest in the second GEOX Dragon machine.
After missing most of FP2 following a driveshaft problem, Mitch Evans only managed 17th in qualifying in the second Jaguar while Jean-Eric Vergne's season of woe continued, with the reigning champion ending up in 18th after crashing his DS Techeetah machine on the exit of Turn 10 at the end of his qualifying lap, causing qualifying's sole red flag.
Oliver Turvey was 19th in the second NIO while it was a difficult qualifying for the Drivers' Championship's current leaders, with Ad Diriyah race winner Antonio Felix da Costa, Santiago podium finisher Pascal Wehrlein, and current series leader Jerome d'Ambrosio rounding out the field.
Hong Kong - Qualifying
|1||Stoffel Vandoorne||HWA Racelab||1:11.580|
|2||Oliver Rowland||Nissan e.dams||1:11.903||0.323|
|3||Edorado Mortara||Venturi Formula E Team||1:12.310||0.730|
|4||Andre Lotterer||DS Techeetah Formula E Team||1:12.868||1.288|
|5||Gary Paffett||HWA Racelab||1:13.033||1.453|
|6||Lucas di Grassi||Audi Sport Abt Schaeffler||1:14.177||2.597|
|7||Sam Bird||Envision Virgin Racing||1:12.529|
|8||Sebastien Buemi||Nissan e.dams||1:12.529|
|9||Felipe Massa||Venturi Formula E Team||1:12.570|
|10||Robin Frijns||Envision Virgin Racing||1:12.600|
|11||Tom Dillmann||NIO Formula E Team||1:12.839|
|12||Daniel Abt||Audi Sport Abt Schaeffler||1:12.850|
|13||Alexander Sims||BMW i Andretti Motorsport||1:12.861|
|14||Jose Maria Lopez||GEOX Dragon||1:13.073|
|15||Nelson Piquet||Panasonic Jaguar Racing||1:13.421|
|16||Felipe Nasr||GEOX Dragon||1:13.885|
|17||Mitch Evans||Panasonic Jaguar Racing||1:13.920|
|18||Jean-Eric Vergne||DS Techeetah Formula E Team||1:13.927|
|19||Oliver Turvey||NIO Formula E Team||1:14.133|
|20||Antonio Felix da Costa||BMW i Andretti Motorsport||1:14.384|
|21||Pascal Wehrlein||Mahindra Racing||1:14.830|
|22||Jerome d'Ambrosio||Mahindra Racing||1:15.347|