Formula E in Rome: Dennis beats Cassidy to pole position in thrilling qualifying final on Sunday
Jake Dennis secured pole position in a thrilling Formula E qualifying session in Rome on Sunday. The Andretti driver narrowly edged out world championship rival Nick Cassidy (Envision) in the final. Previous day's winner Mitch Evans (Jaguar) will start in fourth place and will also want to have a say in the race for victory. After yet another disappointing qualifying result, Pascal Wehrlein has most likely dropped out of the title fight.
Group A: Bird proves strong nerves, Ticktum surprises
In Group A, title favorite Mitch Evans went on track, but also some other fast drivers. Sacha Fenestraz, who had been the group winner on Saturday, was unable to take part in qualifying. As e-Formula.news had learned shortly before, Nissan was unable to identify the problem with the Frenchman's car, the same that had already cost him the third Free Practice, in time. Their best guess at the time: a battery problem. After the first laps, Nick Cassidy, Jean-Eric Vergne, Evans and Stoffel Vandoorne occupied the top 4.
After the tire change, the decisive laps followed. The fastest time was set by Sam Bird, despite his serious accident on Saturday. The Briton was just over a tenth of a second faster than runner-up Cassidy. Dan Ticktum in the Nio 333, who had lightly touched the wall just before, sensationally qualified third for the duel stage, followed by Evans, who just managed to get ahead.
Antonio Felix da Costa narrowly failed to make it through, finishing fifth ahead of Vergne and Lucas di Grassi, who arguably got the most out of his Mahindra. His compatriot Sergio Sette Camara and Vandoorne lined up behind. Robin Frijns outbraked himself in turn 4 and had to use the run-off zone. Behind him was only Fenestraz, who was unable to take part in qualifying.
Group B: Dennis delivers, Wehrlein doesn't
In Group B, Jake Dennis initially managed the fastest time in the "first run". Sebastien Buemi in the slotted in behind the Brit. Jake Hughes and Pascal Wehrlein completed the first four positions, which were ultimately enough for the quarter-finals. After the tire change, things got serious.
While Norman Nato set a new best time in Sector 1, Hughes outbraked himself and had to save himself in the run-off zone. Dennis was not deterred by this and improved his best time once again. Buemi also remained second. Nato surprisingly climbed to third place. Max Günther again made it into the duel phase in fourth place, although there were still discussions as to whether the German had slowed sufficiently when Hughes brought out the yellow flags. Dennis was also initially still "under investigation" - suspected of having impeded another driver.
Behind the top 4 were Edo Mortara, Hughes, Rene Rast, Pascal Wehrlein, Andre Lotterer, Nico Müller and Roberto Merhi. Particularly disappointing for German fans was the performance of title candidate Wehrlein. While his three championship rivals delivered as usual and all made it to the knockout phase, the Porsche driver will once again only start the race from the eighth row of the grid. The title is thus moving further and further away.
Overview: Formula E qualifying in Rome (Sunday)
QF1: Dan Ticktum vs. Nick Cassidy
In the first duel, both drivers initially started out with similar pace. In sector 2, however, Cassidy was able to build a larger lead. In the end, the title contender took more than 1.1 seconds off the underdog in the Nio 333 and advanced to the semi-finals in commanding fashion.
QF2: Mitch Evans vs. Sam Bird
In the duel between the two Jaguar drivers, the outcome was already clear beforehand. "I think it's clear what's happening now then?" radioed Bird to his team. The simple answer: "Yes." Nevertheless, Bird was the faster driver in Sector 1. In the second section of the track, both drove at virtually the same speed. In the final sector, however, Bird clearly took the pace out and just let the car coast for the last 50 meters to the finish line. This brought him the desired gap of a good half a second - Evans in the semi-finals as befits his status.
QF3: Norman Nato vs. Sebastien Buemi
A scary moment for Envision marked quarter-final 3: Sebastien Buemi outbraked himself in turn 7 and slid into the TecPro barrier with the front of his car. This allowed Nato to easily book a trip to the semi-finals. Buemi just dragged himself back to the pits.
QF4: Max Günther vs. Jake Dennis
Günther got the better start into the final quarter-final. In the second sector, however, the German Maserati driver left three tenths of a second in the direct comparison with Dennis. The Andretti driver even extended his lead to just under half a second. As a result, he also moved into the final four with a commanding lead. Günther, for his part, will start the race from 6th on the grid.
SF1: Mitch Evans vs. Nick Cassidy
Mitch Evans opened the first semi-final with a good first sector, but Cassidy was able to counter the charge. In the second sector, the Envision driver increased his small lead. Now it came down to sector 3. In the end, Cassidy was quicker in all three sections, taking a lead of more than two-tenths of a second over his potential future Jaguar teammate. Strong performance from Cassidy in the duel of the "Kiwi giants"
SF2: Norman Nato vs. Jake Dennis
Jake Dennis was minimally faster than Nato in the first sector. He was also slightly ahead in the second sector. Nato was able to counter, going faster than the clear favorite in sector 3. The bottom line, however, was a gap of just over a tenth of a second on the timesheet. Dennis thus went through to the final against his world championship rival Cassidy!
Final: Nick Cassidy vs. Jake Dennis
In what was perhaps the most important qualifying final in Formula E history so far - three additional world championship points were at stake in addition to grid position 1 - Dennis got the better start. In sector 1, however, both were on a par. In the second part of the circuit, the Briton gained another two tenths of a second on his rival! Was Cassidy able to strike back once again? No! Despite a much better final sector, Cassidy missed Dennis' lap time by 71 thousandths of a second. Pole position for Dennis, who thus reduced his gap to world championship leader Cassidy to three points!
The second race in the Italian capital starts at 15:00 (CEST). And it promises to be a gripping three-way battle for victory, with the three remaining title contenders all starting from the top two rows. We will cover the 14th round of the season as usual with our extensive reporting.