Pascal Wehrlein, Mahindra, 2019

Wehrlein takes first Formula E pole as disaster strikes Bird

Formula E

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Pascal Wehrlein took his first Formula E pole position at only his third attempt, heading qualifying for the Mexico EPrix.

However championship leader Sam Bird will start from the back of the grid after an on-track failure just metres into his lap.

Group One: Sam Bird (Virgin), Jerome D’Ambrosio (Mahindra), Robin Frijns (Virgin), Antonio Felix da Costa (BMWi Andretti), Jean-Eric Vergne (DS Techeetah)

Drivers were sent out for qualifying in championship order, starting with two groups of five over the top ten, then two groups of six covering the bottom twelve drivers. The first session was disrupted by Bird’s stoppage – he nursed into the stadium section and off the main circuit but went no further.

His team mate Robin Frijns then appeared to impede Jerome D’Ambrosio, possibly in the belief they were under yellow flag conditions. The Mahindra driver’s lap time was compromised – as was the Virgin driver’s, to the enormous displeasure of both.

Jean-Eric Vergne, who described his car as ‘undriveable’ during the second practice session, was unable to recreate his usual qualifying flair. Although he took second in the session it was thanks to the compromised efforts of his rivals. Antonio Felix da Costa, who was quickest in FP2’s, was well ahead of Vergne in Q1.

Qualifying 1

1Antonio Felix da CostaBMWi Andretti0’59.778
2Jean-Eric VergneDS Techeetah0’59.802
3Robin FrijnsEnvision Virgin1’00.375
4Jerome D’AmbrosioMahindra1’00.455
5Sam BirdEnvision Virgin0’00.000

Group Two: Mitch Evans (Jaguar), Daniel Abt (Audi), Andre Lotterer (DS Techeetah), Pascal Wehrlein (Mahindra), Alexander Sims (BMWi Andretti)

Evans had made a strong showing in free practice this morning but found himself wrestling the car in this session and was unable to set a competitive time. Abt, who led first practice, put in a messy lap that left him only ahead of the immobile Bird.

Alexander Sims initially followed his teammate into Super Pole, just four thousandths of a second back from Da Costa’s time but Wehrlein put in a phenomenal lap to see him more than a tenth clear of Da Costa and comfortably on top of the times.

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Qualifying 2

1Pascal WehrleinMahindra0’59.604
2Alexander SimsBMWi Andretti0’59.782
3Andre LottererDS Techeetah1’00.050
4Mitch EvansJaguar1’00.424
5Daniel AbtAudi1’00.936

Group Three: Sebastien Buemi (Nissan e.Dams) Edoardo Mortara (Venturi), Lucas di Grassi (Audi), Oliver Rowland (Nissan e.Dams), Oliver Turvey (NIO), Jose-Maria Lopez (GEOX Dragon)

At the start of the session it was announced that the yellow flag incident between Frijns and D’Ambrosio was under investigation. Although both were well outside the Super Pole group, it did put a second Virgin car at risk of being sent to the back of the grid and unlikely to help defend their championship lead.

Di Grassi put together another superbly quick lap, after being denied pole in Santiago due to braking infringements. Sebastien Buemi also qualified comfortably but his Nissan e.Dams teammate Oliver Rowland put together a close-as-perfect 59.593 lap to snatch the top of group times from Wehrlein.

Lopez had been struggling all morning and continued to do so, coming in 12th – a performance described as “crap” by GEOX Dragon team boss Jay Penske.

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Qualifying 3

1Oliver RowlandNissan E.Dams0’59.593
2Lucas di GrassiAudi0’59.739
3Sebastien BuemiNissan E.Dams0’59.763
4Edoardo MortaraVenturi0’59.935
5Oliver TurveyNIO0’59.936
6Jose Maria LopezGEOX Dragon1’00.293

Group Four: Nelson Piquet Jnr (Panasonic Jaguar), Tom Dillman (NIO), Gary Paffett (HWA AG), Stoffel Vandoorne (HWA AG), Felipe Massa (Venturi), Felipe Nasr (GEOX Dragon)

Despite not having reached Super Pole in any previous race and three points-free finishes, Felipe Massa came straight out of the pits to put together a 59.719 lap, sending him to third place.

Dillman was unable to rescue NIO’s declining hopes, after Turvey was knocked out of Super Pole and any chance HWA had of Vandoorne repeating his Santiago performance were dashed by a messy lap that saw him well down from Massa’s time.

New driver Nasr, replacing Maximilian Guenther under mildly controversial circumstances, put together a respectable time to beat teammate Lopez but not inch into the top ten let alone Super Pole.

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Qualifying 4

1Felipe MassaVenturi0’59.719
2Nelson Piquet JrJaguar0’59.959
3Tom DillmanNIO1’00.192
4Felipe NasrGEOX Dragon1’00.210
5Gary PaffettHWA AG1’00.340
6Stoffel VandoorneHWA AG1’00.844

Lucas Di Grassi, Audi ABT, Formula E, Autodromo Hermanos Rodriguez, 2019
Di Grassi joined Wehrlein on the front row
Super Pole: Oliver Rowland (Nissan e.Dams), Pascal Wehrlein (Mahindra), Felipe Massa (Venturi), Lucas di Grassi (Audi), Sebastien Buemi (Nissan e.Dams), Antonio Felix da Costa (BMWi Andretti)

Heading out in reverse order of group qualifying, Da Costa put together a respectable but unremarkable lap, followed by an uncharacteristically messy performance by Buemi that put him well behind.

Lucas di Grassi looked set for provisional pole with a time of 59.653, close to the fastest anyone achieved in group qualifying and compatriot Massa was unable to rival it, despite being quicker through the first sector.

Wehrlein, however, continued to show his speed with a 59.347 – a time beating those in group qualifying by two tenths, extremely unusual for the tight Super Pole session. Oliver Rowland was unable to match it, locking up to come in fourth and to give the Mahindra driver his first Formula E pole.


1Pascal WehrleinMahindra0’59.347
2Lucas di GrassiAudi0’59.653
3Felipe MassaVenturi0’59.695
4Oliver RowlandNissan e.Dams0’59.808
5Antonio Felix da CostaBMWi Andretti0’59.819
6Sebastien BuemiNissan e.Dams0’59.949

All competitors to post a time across the sessions were within a second and a half of each other.

Provisional qualifying results:


1Pascal WehrleinMahindra0’59.347
2Lucas di GrassiAudi0’59.653
3Felipe MassaVenturi0’59.695
4Oliver RowlandNissan e.Dams0’59.808
5Antonio Felix da CostaBMWi Andretti0’59.819
6Sebastien BuemiNissan e.Dams0’59.949
7Alexander SimsBMWi Andretti0’58.782
8Jean-Eric VergneDS Techeetah0’59.802
9Edoardo MortaraVenturi0’59.935
10Oliver TurveyNIO0’59.936
11Nelson Piquet JrJaguar0’59.959
12Andre LottererDS Techeetah1’00.050
13Tom DillmanNIO1’00.192
14Felipe NasrGEOX Dragon1’00.210
15Jose Maria LopezGEOX Dragon1’00.293
16Gary PaffettHWA AG1’00.340
17Robin FrijnsEnvision Virgin1’00.375
18Mitch EvansPanasonic Jaguar1’00.424
19Jerome D’AmbrosioMahindra1’00.455
20Stoffel VandoorneHWA AG1’00.844
21Daniel AbtAudi1’00.936
22Sam BirdEnvision Virgin0’00.000

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Author information

Hazel Southwell
Hazel is a motorsport and automotive journalist with a particular interest in hybrid systems, electrification, batteries and new fuel technologies....

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19 comments on “Wehrlein takes first Formula E pole as disaster strikes Bird”

  1. Wehrlein is such a beast. Can he fight for the title as well for race victories in his debut season?
    Also, so great to see Massa doing great in P3. He’s been fast all day, can he get the first podium?

    Disaster for Bird: Da Costa & Vergne will gain a lot of points today

    1. Depends – Vergne was wrestling the car badly during qualifying, almost as bad as when he was almost 100% sideways in Season 3 Berlin. Da Costa has an opportunity though.

      Bird downplayed his chances but he’s very good. If anyone can overtake here my money is firmly on him.

    2. Hmmm, destroyed by Marcus Ericsson…

  2. Lopez complains that he should be testing post race because he knows the car and he developed it. Follows that qualifying behind a guy making his debut…

    1. @fer-no65

      To be fair, I think getting told one day before testing that you needn’t bother and to be replaced by a total rookie is… somewhat irregular.

      Nasr had a clearer session but also quite often people do over perform on their FE qualifying debut. Lopez did the same thing to D’Ambrosio when he stepped into the car this time last year in Marrakech… ;)

    2. And he got a point, he and gunther are developing the car, now gunther is out… he should be the one… remember that vergne made the pole on his first race and then took like 2 seasons to win a race. so nasr one position up doesnt mean nothing.

  3. So… Bird tripped a circuit breaker. Or blew a fuse. Expect he was ‘short’ with his team at not being wired for the ‘current’ lead.

    Perhaps jolting, but e-racing flows with e-puns. ;-)

    1. @jimmi-cynic

      Well played, you made enough connections to light that up ;)

  4. 3 tenths up in Superpole is almost unheard of in FE, especially in a Mahindra. His experienced teammate qualified in 19th, that says a lot. I always thought he was dropped too soon from Mercedes F1 programme, he’s at least Ocon’s level.

    1. Well, you can’t say being 19th is entirely his fault if you read the article completely. If both these guys keep performing it would be great for Mahindra

      1. I actually saw the qualy on TV, and it didn’t look like he was impeeded more than a couple of tenths, or definately not enough to finish so low. But more of a problem seemed to be the green track the first group had to deal with.

  5. petebaldwin (@)
    16th February 2019, 22:55

    May be controversial, but I think I’m starting prefer the overall sound of Formula E to hybrid-era Formula 1! I think they actually sound quite exciting and I love being able to hear the tyres working – it gives a really good sense of who is pushing harder than others.

  6. That was a lot of fun ! :)
    What will the stewards decide ? ..if anything

  7. What a race. What an end to a race. WWWOWWW.

    1. FE are having a lucky season as races that should have been dull have had had slightly freak/luck mess the order up and add excitement.

  8. Ah from the FE site..
    “Suffering a five second penalty, Wehrline lost his podium place, giving way to a second place finish for da Costa and a third place finish for Venturi’s Edoardo Mortara.”

    1. So disappointed for WEH, he should have won this if he had 1% more battery. He drove brilliantly for a rookie, just that being the whole race in front uses more battery than drafting behind.

  9. The most bonkers end to a race I’ve seen for a long time. Enjoyed that!

    1. Watching the team bosses was the best bit!

Comments are closed.