Di Grassi on Uruguay ePrix pole – but under investigation

November 20, 2019 0 By JohnValbyNation

Reigning Formula E champion Lucas di Grassi claimed pole position for the 2018 CBMM Niobium Punta del Este ePrix in Uruguay, the sixth round of the 2017/18 ABB FIA Formula E championship.

Di Grassi claimed the top spot with a superpole time of 1:13.948s, a quarter of a second faster than Virgin’s Alex Lynn.

However both di Grassi and Lynn were placed under investigation after being deemed to cut the turn 10/11 chicane, hitting a bollard in the process. Lynn’s front wing was damaged in the impact.

Also under investigation for the same offence was NextEV NIO’s Oliver Turvey, who finished the pole shoot-out in fourth place.

If stewards penalise the trio, then Jaguar’s Mitch Evans could be promoted to pole from third place. Championship leader Jean-Éric Vergne could also be bumped up from fifth after a disappointing superpole outing.

Earlier in the day, di Grassi had set a new track record morning practice. He then quickly threw down the gauntlet in qualifying. His time of 1:14.032s on the 20-turn, 2.785km street circuit was almost half a second faster than anyone else in the first group.

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Even though subsequent groups had the advantage of a progressively cleaner track, di Grassi’s time was faster than anyone in the second group which was led by Lynn. Evans then closed the gap to di Grassi to just six hundredths in the third group. Seconds later the session was red flagged for Mahindra’s Nick Heidfeld going into the safety barrier in turn 17/18.

Di Grassi was finally dislodged from the top of the times by Vergne, who topped the fourth and final group. The Techeetah’s lap of 1:13.672s was a dead heat for di Grassi’s morning record pace. However, this group was also brought to a premature end – this time due after Nelson Piquet put his Jaguar into the wall at turn 10/11.

Mexico ePrix winner Daniel Abt missed out on superpole by 0.043s. The Audi will now line up in sixth place on the grid for the race. Sebastian Buemi was disappointed with seventh for eDams, putting him alongside Andre Lotterer in the second Techeetah on the grid.

Maro Engel claimed ninth place for Venturi, with Sam Bird tenth for Virgin after mistiming his fast run and running into traffic. The sixth row will be an all-Dragon affair consisting of José María López and Jerome d’Ambrosio.

António Félix da Costa qualified in 13th place for Andretti. That put him just ahead of Felix Rosenqvist, after the Mahindra twice brushed the wall during its flying lap.

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NextEV NIO’s Luca Filippi was 15th in qualifying. However he is expected to face a grid penalty for speeding under a red flag during morning practice.

Edoardo Mortara having a poor lap for 16th. At least he escaped a ten-place grid penalty originally imposed by race stewards after a Friday warm-up crash forced Venturi to replace the car’s cracked safety cell.

Andretti’s Tom Blomqvist was the slowest driver to finish a timed lap in qualifying. He had also suffered a heavy crash earlier in the day, coming off worst in an encounter with the high kerbing in the turn 10/11 chicane. Lining up behind him will be Heidfeld and Piquet.

Nicolas Prost will start from the back of the grid – if he starts at all. The eDams suffered a steering failure that culminated in a hard impact with the wall. It resulted in extensive damage to the front left of the car which could be beyond repair in the time remaining before the race.

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