Vandoorne takes first pole in wet Hong Kong qualifying

Formula E

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Near-torrential rain could not stop Formula E rookie Stoffel Vandoorne from beating the series’ roster of more experienced talent to take his first pole position in Hong Kong.

As always, qualifying groups were decided by championship order, with the points-leaders in the first group. It had rained just prior to and in between both free practice sessions and another cloud burst ended just a few minutes before qualifying, leaving the track glossy with water as the first cars went out.

Conditions on track were so severely compromised that times with this year’s car (and 50kW more power) were nearly 10 seconds slower than last year’s pole over just a 1.156 mile track. With water flooding the floor of tent garages, teams were working in extremely difficult conditions to continue the sessions at all.

Group One: Jerome D’Ambrosio, Antonio Felix da Costa, Sam Bird, Lucas di Grassi, Pascal Wehrlein

Sam Bird set the first decently-paced lap of qualifying, with a 1’12.529 after neither Mahindra could breach 1’14 – however, Lucas di Grassi, last out in the session, was able to put together a 1’12.321 for a potential Super Pole place and the top of some not overly impressive times.

Qualifying 1

1Lucas di GrassiAudi1’12.321
2Sam BirdEnvision Virgin1’12.529
3Antonio Felix da CostaBMWi Andretti1’14.384
4Pascal WehrleinMahindra1’14.830
5Jerome D’AmbrosioMahindra1’15.347

Group Two: Andre Lotterer, Robin Frijns, Jean-Eric Vergne, Mitch Evans, Edoardo Mortara

Mitch Evans seemed to be on promising form, as the first driver to set a hot lap and immediately getting into P3 but over a second and a half back from Di Grassi. Both Mortara and Lotterer put together very impressive laps, easily besting Evans and taking the top two times of the session so far.

Jean-Eric Vergne, who last year took pole here by sliding backwards over the line, almost repeated the feat. However, where he managed to save the lap and car last year, this time his much scrappier lap ended in hitting both the front and back of his car, causing damage that left it stranded on track and brought out a red flag. As he was unable to complete the Parc Ferme procedure for qualifying, his severely compromised time was then completely deleted to leave him at the back of the grid.

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Qualifying 2

1Edoardo MortaraAudi1’12.156
2Andre LottererEnvision Virgin1’12.204
3Robin FrijnsBMWi Andretti1’12.600
4Mitch EvansMahindra1’13.920
5Jean-Eric VergneDS TecheetahDSQ’00.000

Group Three: Daniel Abt, Alexander Sims, Sebastien Buemi, Oliver Rowland, Oliver Turvey, Felipe Massa

Another short burst of rain came down before group three, preventing any potential advantage being taken from a drying track. Felipe Massa, who made his first Super Pole session in Mexico, was the first driver in the group to go to 250kW and set a 1’12.570.

However, Oliver Rowland set the star time with a 1’12.140 – comfortably the fastest time so far and nearly four tenths ahead of his teammate Sebastien Buemi, who only managed a 1’12.529.

Qualifying 3

1Oliver RowlandNissan E.Dams1’12.140
2Sebastien BuemiNissan E.Dams1’12.529
3Felipe MassaVenturi1’12.570
4Daniel AbtAudi1’12.850
5Alexander SimsBMWi Andretti1’12.839
6Oliver TurveyNIO1’14.133

Group Four: Jose-Maria Lopez, Nelson Piquet Jr, Tom Dillman, Gary Paffett, Stoffel Vandoorne, Felipe Nasr

Group four took to the track in potentially one of the driest conditions it had achieved all day, although greasy would still be a mild description for the waterlogged tarmac.

Following Mortara’s impressive performance in group two, both HWA cars (powered by the Venturi powertrain) performed extremely well, with Gary Paffett making an initial bid for pole on a 1’12.093 only to be bested by Stoffel Vandoorne, who seized the best group time by miles with a 1’11.592 – nearly half a second ahead of anyone else.

Qualifying 4

1Stoffel VandoorneHWA AG1’11.592
2Gary PaffettHWA AG1’12.093
3Tom DillmanNIO1’12.839
4Jose-Maria LopezGEOX Dragon1’13.073
5Nelson Piquet JrJaguar1’13.421
6Felipe NasrGEOX Dragon1’13.885

Super Pole: Stoffel Vandoorne, Gary Paffett, Oliver Rowland, Edoardo Mortara, Andre Lotterer, Lucas di Grassi

Another burst of rain just before Super Pole revised any improvements during the final group session, sending a no-doubt-disgruntled Lucas di Grassi out onto a freshly wet track to an unsurprisingly non-stellar time.

Rowland bested his standout group performance to a 1’11.903 but Vandoorne once again proved unbeatable in the conditions, taking his debut Formula E pole by several tenths on a 1’11.580

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1Stoffel VandoorneVenturi1’11.580
2Oliver RowlandNissan e.Dams1’11.903
3Gary PaffettVenturi1’12.310
4Andre LottererDS Techeetah1’13.033
5Lucas di GrassiAudi1’14.177

Full qualifying results:


1Stoffel VandoorneVenturi1’11.580
2Oliver RowlandNissan e.Dams1’11.903
3Gary PaffettVenturi1’12.310
4Andre LottererDS Techeetah1’13.033
5Lucas di GrassiAudi1’14.177
6Sam BirdEnvision Virgin1’12.529
7Sebastien BuemiNissan e.Dams1’12.529
8Felipe MassaVenturi1’12.570
9Robin FrijnsEnvision Virgin1’12.600
10Tom DillmanNIO1’12.839
11Daniel AbtAudi1’12.850
12Alexander SimsBMWi Andretti1’12.861
13Jose-Maria LopezGEOX Dragon1’13.073
14Nelson Piquet JrJaguar1’13.421
15Felipe NasrGEOX Dragon1’13.885
16Mitch EvansJaguar1’13.920
17Olvier TurveyNIO1’14.133
18Antonio Felix da CostaBMWi Andretti1’14.384
19Pascal WehrleinMahindra1’14.830
20Jerome D’AmbrosioMahindra1’15.347
21Jean-Eric VergneDS TecheetahDSQ’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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3 comments on “Vandoorne takes first pole in wet Hong Kong qualifying”

  1. Driving Electric Cars in the rain! Are they insane?

    I take back everything I have said before – perhaps Formula E could be entertaining :)

    1. There are clips of Teslas driving through flooded tunnels, where all other cars are stranded.

      1. Most submarines are electrically propelled when they’re doing what they’re supposed to do :)

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