- Oct 27, 2014
UPDATE: Buemi has since been penalised for exceeding allowed power usage during qualifying, and will now start 10th. Daniel Abt will therefore start from pole ahead of Buemi's teammate Nicolas Prost.
Sébastien Buemi took his second Formula E pole at Long Beach in a tight qualifying session which saw the top seven separated by less than three tenths of a second.
Buemi (e-Dams) was in the fourth and final group of cars to set times alongside Daniel Abt, the Audi Sport ABT driver recovering from his practice crash to briefly go fastest until Buemi went quicker by less than a tenth. The Swiss and German occupy the front row, followed by Buemi’s teammate and championship leader Nicolas Prost.
The Californian street track appeared to evolve as the four sessions played out, with times which appeared imperious eventually beaten by narrow margins. The two Andrettis of Jean-Eric Vergne and Scott Speed were very impressive in Q1 against Pic, Alguersuari and Heidfeld, but were then topped by Prost and ended up 6th and 8th.
Fellow championship contender Sam Bird (Virgin Racing) was also in Q2, but only qualifying 11th means he’ll have to work hard tomorrow to turn around his recent lacklustre results. Nelson Piquet Jr (China Racing) wasn't disappointed with 4th on the grid, but without running behind Stephane Sarrazin (Venturi) in the final sector in Q3 he could be on pole.
Lucas di Grassi’s (Audi Sport ABT) best run was less than two tenths off Prost’s which translated to 5th, the Brazilian upstaged by his teammate Abt but at least in touch with his biggest rivals for the race later. There was a brief scare in the pits after the session as smoke came from his car, revealed to be an overheating external starter motor which can easily be replaced.
The Trulli team’s poor form continued as Liuzzi clipped the wall at turn 5, bringing out a slightly puzzling red flag with five minutes left in Q4, and the Italian will start last without setting a time. Mahindra’s Karun Chandhok wasn’t far ahead in a surprising 18th, with Bruno Senna 11th. Amlin Aguri’s pace on the other hand appear to be improving, with Da Costa in the leading mix with 7th, though Salvador Duran was less impressive in 15th.
The closeness of the field in qualifying is to be expected with an equal formula and a short 2.1km circuit, but it suggests the race will be very hard fought. Will Buemi be the first man in Formula E to convert his pole position into a win? Can Piquet Jr win on the 35th anniversary of his father’s first grand prix win at Long Beach? Make sure you’re watching in a couple of hours’ time.
Long Beach ePrix Grid
1 Sébastien Buemi e-Dams 56.853
2 Daniel Abt Audi Sport ABT
3 Nicolas Prost e-Dams
4 Nelson Piquet Jr China Racing
5 Lucas di Grassi Audi Sport ABT
6 Jean-Eric Vergne Andretti Autosport
7 António Félix da Costa Amlin Aguri
8 Scott Speed Andretti Autosport
The race starts at 11pm UTC later today, which you can follow here on RaceDepartment through Formula E’s live online stream. It’s also available through ITV4’s coverage from 11pm with the race starting at 12am.