Own goals from Sebastien Buemi and Lucas Di Grassi handed Jerome D’Ambrosio pole for the Punta Del Este ePrix and a front row lock-out for Dragon Racing.
The Punta Del Este track was biting hard this weekend, with a number of driver’s taking a little more margin than required and finding themselves in the wall. One such driver was Sebastien Buemi, who lost the rear of his Renault e.Dams during practice and launching over the sausage kerbs.
DS Virgin were again in the wars with Sam Bird having to qualify in a slightly bent car from practice, while battery issues once again plagued Jean Eric Vergne’s run; the team ripping apart the car in an effort to solve the issue and relegating the Frenchman to limited running.
Vergne chose to wait until the last 3 minutes of Group one qualifying, dispensing with a warm-up and running at full boost, although there was some hint that his battery issues may have played a factor in his decision making. At the first sector, it was Piquet who was fastest, with team mate Oliver Turvey also looking very neat and out-qualified Nelson by just over a tenth, followed by Berthon.
Vergne’s decision to run late proved foolhardy as he locked the rears of his DS Virgin on entry and then nearly running into Berthon who wasn’t looking in his mirrors. With no banker lap to fall back on, Jean-Eric would need a miracle to stay in the top five.
Next out was Prost, Di Grassi, D’Ambrosio, Frijns and Bird. Prost appeared to have slight damage from a bollard and as such was taking multiple steering inputs on entry. Di Grassi struck early with a 1:15.1, with Dragon Racing’s Jerome D’Ambrosio three tenths away ahead of Sam Bird and Nicolas Prost. Frijns time was good enough for a provisional sixth place.
Daniel Abt was very aggressive over the kerbs during his warm-up lap in Group three running just behind the versatile Loic Duval. Duval was over a tenth under Lucas Di Grassi in the first sector alone, suggesting the track was starting to rubber up, but eventually had to settle for third. Abt’s effort was only good enough to usurp Frijns for sixth place with Antonio Felix Da Costa one spot behind. Stephane Sarrazin was disappointing in eleventh while newcomer Oliver Rowland survived a nervous moment and had to be happy with thirteenth whilst subbing for Nick Heidfeld.
The final group of Senna, Villeneuve, De Silvestro and Buemi would be experiencing a different track that was Group one saw at the start of the session. Buemi would want to want to keep things neat to slot himself into the top five without risking the house on a demon lap. Nonetheless, the Swiss driver was a tenth up on DI Grassi in the first sector. His final lap was good enough for provisional pole while Senna could only manage ninth and De Silvestro in fifteenth. Villeneuve meanwhile threw his Venturi into the wall on entry before completing a full lap.
Sam Bird was first out for his Superpole run. A little too much rear bias saw his DS Virgin look a little light on entry into turn one but looking very neat through the first chicane. A tidy lap looked like it was yield a little more than a 1:16.1 however.
Loic Duval was looking for his first front row start and had little to lose. While suffering a little in mid-corner speed, the Dragon racer was spectacular in the fast sections, giving him a quarter of a second gain on Bird with a 1:15.8. Duval’s team mate, Jerome D’Ambrosio experienced a severe lock-up in his own first sector, but was still a tenth up on Duval. Clipping the wall on the exit of the final chicane didn’t hurt his chances, taking provisional pole being four-tenths up on Duval.
Di Grassi was perhaps too aggressive over the kerbs in the first sector and was a tenth down on D’Ambrosio. That turned into a 1.1 seconds – a disastrous result and a likely fifth position at best. As such, Sebastien Buemi was looking to capitalize on Di Grassi’s misfortune. He would do better to look after his own game as a lock up saw Buemi run wide and ruin his lap, ensuring a front row lock-out for Dragon Racing and a superb pole for Jerome D’Ambrosio.