Jean-Eric Vergne stormed to his third pole position of the 2014/2015 FIA Formula E season in qualifying for Round 9 of the championship, the Moscow ePrix.
Championship leader Nelson Piquet JR set the early pace in the opening session to take provisional pole position, but ended up 0.020s shy of Vergne’s fastest lap, while the chasing Lucas di Grassi was third quickest.
Sebastien Buemi had topped both of the morning’s practice sessions heading into qualifying around the 2.39km Moscow Street Circuit, but could only manage P4, as the top three title contenders lined up inside the top four positions.
Jerome D’Ambrosio impressed once more in his Dragon Racing car to line up fifth on the grid, while Nico Prost continued his fantastic run of qualifying within the top seven in every round of the season so far to go sixth quickest.
The second Audi ABT of Daniel ABT was a solid seventh, as Nick Heidfeld and Stephane Sarrazin put a resurgent Venturi team eighth and 10th for the Moscow ePrix, split only by Berlin’s pole-sitter Jarno Trulli.
Brit Sam Bird suffered another difficult morning and could only go 12th fastest and narrowly ahead of Andretti’s Justin Wilson, who has impressed so far on his debut Formula E weekend.
In a strong opening group Piquet JR set the benchmark time on a 1m09.449s to take provisional pole-position, almost four tenths of a second ahead of e.Dams’ Buemi.
But it was Q3 that proved to be the pivotal session, with Vergne completing a hat trick of pole positions, lowering the benchmark with a stunning 1m09.429s, as di Grassi claimed third.
Trulli was third quickest in the penultimate group ahead of the returning Antonio Garcia for NEXTEV TCR. Meanwhile Loic Duval suffered a bizarre moment when his Dragon Racing car shut down momentarily on track, meaning that the French driver will start from a lowly 19th.
The typical bumpy street circuit attempted to catch the 20 drivers out, and in the final qualifying group Karun Chandhok became a victim as he endured his second spin of the day.
The Mahindra driver completed a full 360 degrees pirouette before resuming on his way to a disappointing 17th place, just behind team-mate Bruno Senna.