Andre Lotterer beats Mitch Evans to pole position in thrilling Rome E-Prix qualifying
Andre Lotterer stormed to a maiden Formula E pole position on the streets of Rome, beating Jaguar Racing's Mitch Evans to the top spot in changeable conditions in qualifying.
Completing his initial qualifying run in Group Two, posting a competitive 1m 29.761s lap, Lotterer set the fastest time in the group qualifying stages to front the Super Pole shootout, joined by Evans, Jose Maria Lopez, Stoffel Vandoorne, Maximilian Gunther and Sebastien Buemi.
With an ever-present threat of rain throughout group qualifying, the potential of wet weather held off until Super Pole, with a short burst of rainfall in-between sessions leaving the 2.870km-long Circuito Cittadino dell'EUR with changeable conditions, the first half of the track dry while the second half was wet.
As the slowest component of the top six, Buemi was the first driver to take to the track in Super Pole and quickly discovered the slippery nature of the racing surface ahead, running deep into Turn 13 and spinning on his warmup lap.
Learning from his error, Buemi posted a clean 1m 36.331s on his 250kW flyer to lay down a benchmark time, only for Formula E returnee Gunther to eclipse this time, claiming provisional pole position for GEOX Dragon with a 1m 35.640s run.
When HWA Racelab's Vandoorne beat Gunther's best efforts by 2.407s, it became apparent that track evolution would become a major component of Super Pole, meaning that the last man over the line would most likely claim the top spot.
A pacy 1m 32.906s run from Jaguar's Evans saw the Kiwi claim provisional pole, meaning that Formula E would see another new polesitter in Season Five, with Lotterer remaining as the final runner.
Taking to the track, Lotterer had a strong run through sector one before locking up and running wide into the left-hand hairpin of Turn 13, making the chances of pole position for DS Techeetah appear to be unlikely.
Recovering, Lotterer continued to power around the constantly drying circuit, going on to cut to the timing beam with a 1m 32.123s lap, beating Evans to pole position by 0.360s.
With Evans starting from second on the grid following a recent run of poor qualifying performances for Jaguar this season, Lopez and Vandoorne formed the second row in third and fourth while Gunther and Buemi formed row three.
Missing out on a spot in Super Pole, Hong Kong E-Prix race winner Edoardo Mortara was the best of the rest, qualifying in seventh for Venturi while Robin Frijns was the fastest Envision Virgin Racing driver, securing eighth.
On his return to Formula E after losing his drive at Virgin to Frijns at the end of Season Four, Alex Lynn impressed in his first qualifying session for Jaguar after replacing Nelson Piquet Jr, taking ninth for the British marque while Pascal Wehrlein completed the top 10 for Mahindra.
After missing out on track time in FP2 as a result of a driveshaft failure, Felipe Massa qualified in 11th while Oliver Rowland failed to emulate his past qualifying performances for Nissan e.dams, with the Briton only managing 12th.
Championship leader Antonio Felix da Costa was the highest placing driver from Group One qualifying, with the Portuguese racer claiming 13th on the grid, followed by Sam Bird and Lucas di Grassi who completed the top 15.
Reigning DTM champion Gary Paffett secured 16th in the second HWA while Formula E's most recent winner Jean-Eric Vergne qualified in 17th in the second DS Techeetah car.
Daniel Abt followed Vergne in 18th in the second Audi while Oliver Turvey, Jerome d'Ambrosio, Tom Dillmann and Alexander Sims completed the field, the last-placed Briton failing to complete a lap in qualifying due to a technical problem on his BMW-powered Andretti entry.
Rome - Qualifying
|1||Andre Lotterer||DS Techeetah Formula E Team||1:32.123|
|2||Mitch Evans||Panasonic Jaguar Racing||1:32.483||0.360|
|3||Jose Maria Lopez||GEOX Dragon||1:32.906||0.783|
|4||Stoffel Vandoorne||HWA Racelab||1:33.233||1.110|
|5||Max Gunther||GEOX Dragon||1:35.640||3.517|
|6||Sebastien Buemi||Nissan e.dams||1:36.331||4.208|
|7||Edorado Mortara||Venturi Formula E Team||1:30.397|
|8||Robin Frijns||Envision Virgin Racing||1:30.422|
|9||Alex Lynn||Panasonic Jaguar Racing||1:30.500|
|10||Pascal Wehrlein||Mahindra Racing||1:30.609|
|11||Felipe Massa||Venturi Formula E Team||1:30.623|
|12||Oliver Rowland||Nissan e.dams||1:30.723|
|13||Antonio Felix da Costa||BMW i Andretti Motorsport||1:30.804|
|14||Sam Bird||Envision Virgin Racing||1:30.880|
|15||Lucas di Grassi||Audi Sport Abt Schaeffler||1:30.977|
|16||Gary Paffett||HWA Racelab||1:30.980|
|17||Jean-Eric Vergne||DS Techeetah Formula E Team||1:31.016|
|18||Daniel Abt||Audi Sport Abt Schaeffler||1:31.043|
|19||Oliver Turvey||NIO Formula E Team||1:31.043|
|20||Jerome d'Ambrosio||Mahindra Racing||1:31.192|
|21||Tom Dillmann||NIO Formula E Team||1:31.220|
|22||Alexander Sims||BMW i Andretti Motorsport||1:46.182|