ABT coup in the Berlin rain: Robin Frijns celebrates Formula E pole position ahead of Nico Müller on Sunday
ABT Cupra secured its first world championship points of the 2023 season at the Formula E home race in Berlin. The team from Kempten had seemingly completely converted their car setup for rain and worked their way through qualifying flawlessly on a wet track. In the final, Robin Frijns edged out his ABT teammate Nico Müller to claim what was only his second pole position in Formula E.
Group A: Vergne fastest, Müller surprises in the ABT Cupra
In the time between free practice and qualifying it had rained again in Berlin. Accordingly, the track was wet for the start of Group A. The Gen3 cars kicked up a lot of spray and at the same time had to go to the limit for the first time in damp conditions. Accordingly, the fans at the track saw some slides. As in FP1, ABT Cupra made a good impression, with Nico Müller setting the fastest time in the first half of the session.
Three and a half minutes before the end, Pascal Wehrlein undercut Müller's time and took first place. Behind him, brand colleague Jake Dennis positioned himself. Then Müller was again the fastest. After the time had elapsed, Jean-Eric Vergne set the fastest time. Wehrlein also improved again in second place. Müller sensationally advanced to the quarterfinals - the first ever duel for ABT Cupra - and Dennis also advanced one round.
After that, Antonio Felix da Costa, Oliver Rowland, Lucas di Grassi, Andre Lotterer, Rene Rast, Sacha Fenestraz and Norman Nato - all Nissan as on the previous day - ended up far behind.
Group B: Buemi again strong as an ox, Günther last
Group B also had to contend with difficult conditions. Robin Frijns (ABT) put an early exclamation mark, but Mitch Evans was again just under four-tenths of a second faster. After the first six minutes Frijns again led ahead of Evans, Sebastien Buemi and Nick Cassidy. More clouds appeared on the rain radar again. Then things got serious.
With the last attempts some drivers turned up again. Sam Bird overdid it and made a mistake in turn 9. Buemi set the fastest time in his group and qualified confidently for the duel phase. Behind him, Frijns, Evans and Cassidy moved into the quarter-finals. Stoffel Vandoorne narrowly failed to qualify in fifth place ahead of Bird. Dan Ticktum, Jake Hughes, Edo Mortara, Sergio Sette Camara and Max Guenther followed in the rear positions. After his podium on Saturday, the local hero will thus start from the back row - desolate pace at Maserati!
Overview: Formula E qualifying in Berlin
VF1: Nico Müller vs. Pascal Wehrlein
ABT Cupra met directly with world championship leader Pascal Wehrlein in his first qualifying duel. Nico Müller was absolutely on a par with the Porsche driver in the first sector. In sector 2, Wehrlein made a mistake and lost two tenths of a second. In the end, the gap was even greater: Müller moved into the semi-final with a good three-tenths of a second lead. Rumor has it that ABT had set its cars completely for rain overnight in order to aim for the three points for pole position. Wehrlein will start the race from grid position 6.
VF2:Jake Dennis vs. Jean-Eric Vergne
Vergne got the better start in the second duel. In the second section of the track, the Frenchman took another tenth off Dennis. The bottom line was a lead of more than four tenths of a second in the end. Vergne thus easily in the semifinals.
VF3: Mitch Evans vs. Robin Frijns
Then came previous day's winner Evans. However, he had a strong opponent in Frijns. In sector 1, both were approximately equally fast. The second part of the lap went to Frijns. In the end, the Dutchman actually prevailed by 69 thousandths of a second - both ABT Cupra in the qualifying semi-finals!
VF4: Nick Cassidy vs. Sebastien Buemi
As on Saturday, it came to the team-internal Envision duel in qualifying - Saturday Buemi had prevailed. Also this time the Swiss got the better start. In the following sector, both drivers were on an equal footing. Thanks to a strong final section, in which Cassidy was around two-tenths of a second faster, the "Kiwi" moved into the semifinals with a supposed five-hundredths of a second lead.
A little later, however, race control announced the deletion of Cassidy's lap times because he had not used the 350-kW mode correctly - apparently too early. There was initially no more detailed explanation. As a result, Buemi inherited his teammate's place on the final lap.
HF1: Jean-Eric Vergne vs. Nico Müller
In the first semifinal, Vergne managed the slightly better start. However, Müller countered in the second leg and took the virtual lead. The Swiss brought a lead of six hundredths of a second to the finish line and thus entered the final for the first time - jubilation in the ABT garage!
HF2: Sebastien Buemi vs. Robin Frijns
The crossing of fingers of the Kemptener continued directly - this time for Frijns and against Buemi. In sector 1, both opponents were virtually equally fast. Then Buemi was able to build up a small lead. In the end, however, Frijns gained a lead of more than three tenths of a second and actually entered the final. So it was already clear: ABT would finally secure its first three World Championship points of the 2023 season on Sunday!
Final: Nico Müller vs. Robin Frijns
Robin Frijns got off to the much better start in the final round - he was already four tenths of a second ahead of Müller. In sector 2, he further extended his lead. The bottom line was that Frijns beat his ABT teammate by more than six tenths of a second. Frijns was jubilant about his second career pole and the first three points of the season. ABT commented on the radio, "Robin, you've just taken pole in the slowest car - congratulations!"
The race on Berlin Sunday starts at 3pm. ProSieben broadcasts the E-Prix live on free TV, ran.de on livestream. We will accompany the race as usual in our popular Hankook Formula E Liveticker..