Formula E in Sao Paulo: Champion Vandoorne beats Felix da Costa in Brazil qualifying final
Stoffel Vandoorne has secured pole position in the first Sao Paulo E-Prix of Formula E. The reigning champion in DS Penske beat Antonio Felix da Costa in the qualifying final. The Porsche driver still has a good chance of his second race win in a row. Third place went to Mitch Evans (Jaguar) ahead of Edo Mortara (Maserati). The best German was Max Günther in ninth position. World championship leader Pascal Wehrlein starts far behind..
Group A: Red flag for Sette Camara, Wehrlein fails.
The first group began with a nasty surprise for local hero Sergio Sette Camara. Unbeknownst to anyone, a technical problem occurred in his Nio 333 on a long straight, forcing the Brazilian to first cut the chicane and then stop at the side of the track. After the double accident in Cape Town, race director Scot Elkins did not hesitate to interrupt the session. Although Sette Camara was able to restart his car a little later and bring it back to the pits, there was red for a few minutes.
Then it continued - initially with a lead for Jean-Eric Vergne. Wehrlein failed to produce a good lap for the time being due to contact with a wall, while others improved. First Nick Cassidy set a best time, then Stoffel Vandoorne. Andre Lotterer was fast, but then apparently made a mistake and had to return to the pits - the next desolate qualifying for the Andretti driver. Now it came down to the final attempts.
Vandoorne continued to improve and moved into the quarterfinals as fastest in the group. In addition, Cassidy, Edo Mortara and Jake Hughes made it to the knockout stage. Just behind the top 5 were Vergne, Rene Rast and Nico Müller in the ABT. Wehrlein only made it to 8th place in his group. The world championship leader will thus start the race from 20th on the grid, as he also expects a demotion from Cape Town. Sette Camara finished 9th in his group ahead of Oliver Rowland and Lotterer.
Group B: Bird prevails, di Grassi crashes.
Group B also started with a stationary car on the side of the track. This time it was the ABT Mahindra of returnee Robin Frijns that stopped on the start/finish straight. A good two minutes later, the Dutchman was able to restart the systems and continue. No red flags this time. When yellow was lifted, directly many drivers gave full power immediately. Antonio Felix da Costa took the lead, followed by Jake Dennis, Sebastien Buemi and Norman Nato. Lucas di Grassi hit the wall with his front wheel in a right-hand bend and broke his suspension - disaster for the Brazilian Formula E drivers in qualifying. Behind him, Bird drove over the debris and had to abort his lap.
Then it was off to change tires for most. Bird was the first to put on the pressure and set a new best time - it should be enough to win the group! Max Günther qualified for the duels in second place. Behind him, Felix da Costa and Mitch Evans also moved into the next round. There were some disappointments on the other places. Nato should still be reasonably satisfied with fifth place, but Buemi in sixth missed the knockout stage for the first time this season. The two drivers behind him had also hoped for more: Jake Dennis and Sacha Fenestraz. Dan Ticktum, Frijns and di Grassi closed out their group.
Overview: Formula E qualifying in Sao Paulo
VF1: Edo Mortara vs. Nick Cassidy
In the first duel it went directly very close. Mortara and Cassidy met absolutely on eye level. In the end, Mortara decided the first quarter-final in his favor with an 18 thousandths of a second lead. For Envision, this meant that qualifying was over early, while Maserati was allowed to continue.
VF2: Jake Hughes vs. Stoffel Vandoorne
Then it came to the duel champion against rookie. However, Hughes overestimated himself in turn 7 and drove a wide arc, which cost him about seven tenths of a second. As a result, Vandoorne advanced to the semifinals for the first time this season without any major problems..
VF3: Antonio Felix da Costa vs. Max Günther
Felix da Costa went into the third quarterfinal as the favorite, despite taking part in the duels for the first time ever this season. Sector 1 went to the Porsche driver, but Günther was faster in the second section. On balance, however, it was enough for Felix da Costa, who still had a good two-tenths of a second advantage. The Portuguese thus in the semifinals, Günther, on the other hand, was eliminated.
VF4: Mitch Evans vs. Sam Bird
Last but not least was the duel between the two Jaguar drivers. Evans led the way - with a slightly faster first sector. The second sector also went to the "Kiwi," so Bird could no longer catch up. In the end, the Briton was just under two-tenths of a second behind his teammate despite a better time in sector 3. However, he was still the "fastest loser" in the quarterfinal. Actually, then, 5th on the grid for Bird, had he not still had to serve his penalty from Hyderabad.
HF1: Edo Mortara vs. Stoffel Vandoorne
Also in the first semifinal, two identical drives met: Maserati versus DS. Both drivers started on an equal footing, with a slight advantage for Vandoorne. In the second section, the champion was able to step it up a notch and took a good two tenths of a second off Mortara. Although the Swiss was minimally faster in sector 3, it was enough for Vandoorne. The first qualifying finish of the year for the DS driver.
HF2: Antonio Felix da Costa vs. Mitch Evans
Felix da Costa took to the track first in the second semi-final, but lost almost two-tenths of a second in the very first sector. Sector 2, on the other hand, went to the Portuguese, so it became exciting once again. And indeed, Felix da Costa was able to shift up a gear: With a lead of 40 hundredths of a second, he held his own against the strong Evans! The Cape Town winner with the supposedly best drive accordingly on the starting row 1..
Final: Antonio Felix da Costa vs. Stoffel Vandoorne
Once again, Felix da Costa had to go out on track first, with Vandoorne following some distance behind. The Porsche driver opened the final with a slightly faster first sector than Vandoorne. The second sector, however, went to the DS driver, who thus took the interim lead. In the end, he was able to manage that lead and actually took his first pole of the season by 63 thousandths of a second!
For Vandoorne, it was the eighth pole position overall of his Formula E career. For the Penske team, it was the third - and the first in 90 races! Vandoorne also moved up to twelfth overall thanks to the three bonus points, passing Evans. Another interesting statistic: In the first six rounds of the season, six different drivers were on the first grid position.
The Sao Paulo race starts early Saturday evening at 6 p.m. German time. ProSieben will broadcast the Sao Paulo E-Prix live on free TV, ran.de on livestream. We will accompany the race as usual in our popular Hankook Formula E Liveticker..