Formula E: Nissan driver Sacha Fenestraz loses pole position at Monaco E-Prix to Jake Hughes
Jake Hughes can be happy about the second pole position of his Formula E career. The McLaren driver inherited first place on the grid more than an hour after the end of qualifying, although his lap time in the final had been cancelled. Originally, Sacha Fenestraz had prevailed in qualifying in Monaco. However, the Nissan rookie was subsequently disqualified from the final. Norman Nato in the second Nissan sensationally finished third on the grid behind Fenestraz, ahead of Max Günther.
Group A: Nissan surprises, favorites stumble
Shortly before qualifying, the skies closed in over Monaco. Imminent rain, however, was not yet on the radar. In the first group, some "heavyweights" took to the track, including Mitch Evans and the two DS drivers Jean-Eric Vergne and Stoffel Vandoorne. World championship leader Pascal Wehrlein also had to prove himself after rather difficult practice sessions. As expected, Jaguar and DS Penske set the pace in the first six minutes: Evans led ahead of Vergne, Vandoorne and Sam Bird. Then they peeled off into the pits to change tires.
In the second half of the twelve-minute session, Andre Lotterer was the first to break into the Jaguar-DS quartet. Then the lap times tumbled. Norman Nato took the lead, and Sacha Fenestraz and Dan Ticktum also moved into the top 4. On their final attempts, many drivers stepped up their game: Nato improved his best time once again, took first place and moved into the duels ! Right behind him, Nissan teammate Sacha Fenestraz finished in second. Third was Ticktum, with Evans just making the cut in fourth.
Andre Lotterer narrowly missed out on the quarter-finals in fifth place. Behind him, the favorites Vandoorne, Wehrlein and Vergne had to line up. Rene Rast, Sam Bird and Robin Frijns completed their group. Nine of the eleven drivers were within half a second of each other. A little later, the race control deleted the lap times of Vandoorne and Vergne because of too low tire pressures.
Group B: Günther takes a commanding lead
In Group B, Max Günther initially established himself at the top of the timesheet - as he had done in FP2. Behind him, Nick Cassidy, Sergio Sette Camara and Lucas di Grassi followed after the first attempts. Antonio Felix da Costa reported damage to the front left suspension of his Porsche after making contact with a wall in the Nouvelle Chicane. Nevertheless, he stayed out and tried to improve. Most of the other drivers had changed their tires in the meantime.
In the final minutes, as expected, times improved again. Günther was fastest ahead of Jake Hughes and Sette Camara. Mortara improved to third place, but no one could get close to the two leaders. Günther won his group ahead of Hughes, teammate Mortara and Sette Camara. Again, both Nio 333s were confirmed for the duel stage, plus three of four Nissan cars!
World Championship runner-up Cassidy narrowly missed the quarterfinals in fifth ahead of World Championship fourth-place finisher Jake Dennis. Lining up behind them will be Oliver Rowland, Sebastien Buemi, Nico Müller, Antonio Felix da Costa and Lucas di Grassi. There were subsequent penalties in Group B as well: Rowland's and Buemi's lap times were deleted due to "technical infractions." Sette Camara also had underinflated tires, but only on one set. His best, decisive lap time therefore remained untouched.
At a glance: Formula E qualifying in Monaco
QF1: Dan Ticktum vs. Sacha Fenestraz
The first quarter-final featured a duel debut: Ticktum vs Fenestraz. Fenestraz got the better start to the lap, albeit with only an advantage of just over a tenth of a second. The Nissan driver was also slightly faster in the second part of the lap, although Ticktum managed to cathc up a little. In the end, Fenestraz extended his lead to just under three-tenths of a second and moved into the next round in commanding fashion.
QF2: Mitch Evans vs. Norman Nato
In the group stage Nato had been the faster - Evans was not going to let that sit. The Jaguar driver put in a good first sector and established a small lead. Sector 2, on the other hand, went to Nato, so that the two were almost level again. In the final sector, the Frenchman sensationally opened up a lead of more than three tenths of a second over his long-time friend, knocking him out of the race for pole position - both Nissans (against each other) through to the semi-finals!
QF3: Edo Mortara vs. Jake Hughes
Mortara and Hughes were absolutely on a par in the first sector. But then Mortara made a small mistake that cost him a good three tenths of a second. McLaren driver Hughes was able to extend his lead even further in the final section of the track and moved into the final four without any danger. That left three Nissan cars in the semifinals.
QF4: Sergio Sette Camara vs. Max Günther
Sette Camara opened the final quarter-final with a strong first sector that was minimally faster than Günther's. Then the German (like his teammate) also made a mistake in the second sector and lost a good four tenths in the Nouvelle Chicane. In the end, Sette Camara brought a lead of 36 hundreds of a second to the finish line. However, the Brazilian had waited at the wrong traffic lights on his way out of the pits and thus blocked Günther, preventing him from crossing the line at the green light. Race control thus deleted the time of the Nio 333 driver - ensuring Günther eventually got through to the semifinals.
SF1: Norman Nato vs Sacha Fenestraz
After a lengthy interruption during which the race organizers made their decision regarding Sette Camara, the first semi-final between the two Nissan drivers finally began. Sector 1 went clearly to Fenestraz, in the second section both were on par. By the end of the lap, Fenestraz had built a lead of almost half a second and clearly outpaced his teammate. His lap time of 1:28.773 minutes also meant a new track record.
SF2: Max Günther vs. Jake Hughes
In the second semi-final, Hughes got the better start of the lap. And it didn't get any better for Günther: Again, the German lost more than three tenths of a second in the second sector! In sector 3, both were about the same speed. The bottom line was an advantage of more than half a second for Hughes on the time monitor. The Briton thus went through to the final.
Final: Jake Hughes vs. Sacha Fenestraz
In the direct duel for pole position, the two rookies of the 2023 Formula E season met (although Fenestraz had already contested two races in Seoul in 2022). Sector 1 went to Hughes with a minimal lead. However, the McLaren driver lost more than two tenths in the second section of the circuit by missing the chicane at the exit of the tunnel and having to shortcut. So Fenestraz finished his lap with confidence and secured what was supposed to be the second pole position of his still young Formula E career.
The fact that the Nissan driver was "under investigation" was still shown on live TV. But it was not until more than an hour later that the race organizers made their decision. Fenestraz lost his pole position to Hughes, although both had received a penalty: Fenestraz's lap time in the final was cancelled because he had used more than the maximum allowed 350 kW. Hughes' lap time, on the other hand, was deleted because the Briton had left the track in the "Nouvelle Chicane".
The order in which the drivers took to the track was supposedly the only thing that decided the order on the starting grid. The Monaco race starts on Saturday afternoon at 3 pm (CEST).