The inaugural race of the all-electric FIA Formula E Championship held in Beijing will see Nico Prost for the e.Dams-Renault team starting from pole position. The Frenchman, son of former F1 champion Alain Prost, set a first quick lap but pushed to hard in his second run and hit the wall. Audi Sport ABT teammates Lucas di Grassi and Daniel Abt came close to Prost bu took second and third.
The qualifying was divided into four groups of five drivers each, giving them the opportunity to set a fast lap without being held up.
Karun Chandhok set the fasted time in the first session and was 1,3 seconds quicker than Oriol Servia. Michele Cerruti completed a lap that was 3,7 short on Chandhok. Bad luck voor Stephane Sarrazin and Jarno Trulli. The Venturi driver parked his car. Not long after that, Trulli stopped at the same spot after he briefly hit the wall with the rear of his car. “I was a bit unlucky to be in the first group,” says Chandhok. There are a few things we need to change on the car. It was a safe lap and I don’t think it would be enough for a top ten spot.”
Chandhok’s time seemed not so bad overall as none of the five drivers in the second session were able to go quicker than 1:42.4641. Charles Pic came close, just missing the top spot by less than three tenths of a second. Sam Bird took provisional fourth, just behind Servia. Jerome d’Ambrosio set P5, Ho-Pin Tung P8 and spun in one of his laps.
Regular testing and practice front-runners were battling in the third session. Prost directly snatched provisional pole by one tenth of a second. The e.Dams-Renault driver made however a mistake in his second lap and hit the wall. Teammate Sebastien Buemi took provisional 6th place, but stopped his car on the track after he touched the wall. Audi Sport ABT drivers Lucas di Grassi and Daniel Abt lapped in second and third. Katherine Legge ended up 12th with one qualifying session to go.
In the final session four former Formula 1 drivers took part. Franck Montagny was quickest among them, taking P5 in front of Nick Heidfeld and Jaime Alguersuari. Bruno Senna, quickest in the second practice session, was on track but didn’t set a lap.
“This is a fantastic feeling,” says Prost. “I was a bit disappointed and unhappy with myself after I couldn’t complete the second lap. I probably pushed a bit too hard. But the first lap was good enough for pole position. I’m really happy with that! The race will be another story as energy management will be key.”
“We tried something different in the car and worked out, but we’re not yet on the level we want to be,” says di Grassi honestly. “But it was a good qualifying session with a good result though. Starting on the first row and on the inside is a great outlook. I’m also very happy for my team mate who’s starting in third.”
“I’m really happy to be out here in such a tough championship. We are keeping our head cool for the race,” says Abt. “Key point is to stay on track. It is so easy to crash here or to make mistakes. Our cars are good and the focus is now on the race were it is all about energy management. Staying on track, be quick and take a podium finish. That’s our plan.”
Prost receives three points for taking pole position and becomes automatically the championship leader.
Frank Montagny (P5) is under investigation.
Provisional Formula E qualifiying results in Beijing: