Formula E qualifying: Lucas di Grassi & Mahindra take pole position at season opener in Mexico
Lucas di Grassi has secured the first pole position of the Gen3 era. The Mahindra driver prevailed in the Formula E qualifying final in Mexico City against Jake Dennis (Andretti), who made a mistake in the decisive duel. Two underdogs caused positive surprises in qualifying: Formula E debutant Jake Hughes (McLaren) finished third on the grid, Nio 333 driver Dan Ticktum was fifth behind Andre Lotterer. Many favorites, on the other hand, fell short of expectations.
Group A: Lotterer fastest, Fenestraz sensationally further.
At 16:40 German time, the first group took to the track in sunny but cold conditions. Because there was no overall classification available at the start of the season to determine the groupings, each team sent one driver per group into qualifying. In the first minutes, the pilots initially felt their way closer, but already approached the best time from the 2nd Free Practice. Sergio Sette Camara came to the pits relatively early for a tire change. The "first run" went to Andre Lotterer in the Andretti customer Porsche. He was followed by former champions Jean-Eric Vergne, Lucas di Grassi and Sebastien Buemi.
Then things got serious for the first time in the new 2023 season. Buemi initially moved up to second place. Vergne, meanwhile, obstructed Sette Camara in the station section but got away without penalty. Most of the drivers set off on their fast lap as late as possible. No one came close to Lotterer's best time. Buemi remained second, di Grassi third. Sensationally, Sacha Fenestraz in the Nissan finished fourth, qualifying for the quarterfinals.
Some favorites, on the other hand, were already eliminated: Antonio Felix da Costa in the Porsche was only fifth, Vergne sixth and Sette Camara seventh. Behind them were Rene Rast, Max Günther, Robin Frijns and Sam Bird. Frijns and Bird in particular were more than seven tenths of a second off the lead. Not a good start for ABT Cupra and Jaguar, but Günther must also have been disappointed after his strong Valencia pace.
Group B: Dennis dominates, Ticktum & Hughes in quarter-finals.
In Group B, the other eleven drivers took to the track. The first very good time came after just under six minutes from Jake Hughes. However, Dan Ticktum in the Nio 333 was even faster - a new Gen3 track record for the Brit! Behind the two, Mitch Evans and Stoffel Vandoorne sorted themselves out in the meantime. Jake Dennis flexed his muscles and took the lead. Then it was time for most of them to change tires. Hughes, however, again staked his claim and set a fastest time in the first sector. He was the only one on a fast lap, however, and was supposedly held up a bit. He remained third.
Now came the other "fast" laps. Still, Dennis' best time would stand. Ticktum remained second and also sensationally moved into the quarterfinals. Hughes was third, and Pascal Wehrlein also still qualified for the duel stage in fourth. Mitch Evans narrowly failed to qualify in fifth place ahead of Nick Cassidy. Champion Stoffel Vandoorne was only seventh ahead of Edo Mortara - death of the favorites at the Autodromo Hermanos Rodriguez! Nico Müller, Norman Nato and Oliver Rowland marked the end of Group B.
Overview: Formula E qualifying in Mexico
VF1: Lucas di Grassi vs. Sebastien Buemi
In the first quarterfinal, it came directly to the duel of the eternal rivals. Both started well in the round, with Buemi a tad faster. However, di Grassi fought back in the other two sections and took around two hundredths of a second off Buemi in the end. Strong first appearance of the Brazilian for his new employer Mahindra, because Buemi was also fast on the road.
VF2: Sacha Fenestraz vs. Andre Lotterer
Formula E "greenhorn" Fenestraz took nearly two-tenths of a second off veteran Lotterer in the first sector in his second qualifying session. The Porsche driver made up this deficit in the second section and was marginally faster in the final sector. In the end, the German was thus four hundredths of a second faster than Fenestraz and prevailed.
VF3: Jake Hughes vs. Dan Ticktum
In the third quarterfinal, Formula E debutant Hughes set the pace as Ticktum dropped a lot of time in the first sector. Both were to be the first to break into the 1:12 times with their lap times - strong performance by the youngsters. In the end, however, Hughes prevailed by a relatively clear margin and advanced to the semifinals in his first qualifying race. Ticktum's time was to remain the second-fastest of the entire quarter-final - but still the elimination for him.
VF4: Pascal Wehrlein vs. Jake Dennis
Dennis set the pace with powerful sector times in the first two sections. Although he left four (!) tenths of a second in the last sector, it was enough for him to reach the semi-finals. Wehrlein crossed the line 29 thousandths of a second behind and was thus eliminated in the quarterfinals - disappointment for the 2022 E-Prix winner!
HF1: Andre Lotterer vs. Lucas di Grassi
Lotterer got the better start in the duel of the Formula E routiniers and was also faster in the final section. In turn 5 (sector 2), however, he made a momentous mistake that cost him a lot of time: he slammed on the brakes and had to make a wide turn. As a result, he ended up a second and a half behind di Grassi. The Mexico specialist in the Mahindra thus moved into the qualifying final.
HF2: Jake Dennis vs. Jake Hughes
In the duel between the two Jakes, Dennis went first. In the first sector, both were almost equally fast. Nevertheless, the section went narrowly to rookie Hughes - just like the second! In the final sector, however, Dennis worked his magic to open up a lead of 1.2 tenths of a second. 1:12.595 minutes - what a lap by the Andretti driver! But compatriot Hughes also deserves respect for his 1:12.721 - the McLaren driver will start his first Formula E race from the second row of the grid.
So close to a dream debut! @JakeHughesRace was so close to a Duels final, but slid at the vital moment!. - ABB FIA Formula E World Championship (@FIAFormulaE) January 14, 2023
It's @LucasdiGrassi vs @JakeDennis19 for Pole at the #MexicoCityEPrix. pic.twitter.com/Cj84vFqiUi
Final: Lucas di Grassi vs. Jake Dennis
The final of Mexico opened Lucas di Grassi. The Brazilian was already able to get two tenths of a second ahead of Dennis in the first sector. In the second section, the Briton - like teammate Lotterer before him - slipped his brakes in turn 5 and lost a lot of time. Although di Grassi hit a wall and was slower in the final sector, his lead of almost three seconds was easily enough. Lucas di Grassi will thus start the 2023 season opener from pole position - his fourth overall in Formula E!
A drama-filled final in the Duels! ? pic.twitter.com/P61RSz5i08- ABB FIA Formula E World Championship (@FIAFormulaE) January 14, 2023
The first Formula E race of the 2023 season begins Saturday night at 9 p.m. German time. ProSieben will broadcast the Mexico City E-Prix live on free TV, ran.de on livestream.