Jean-Eric Vergne, DS Techeetah, Formula E, 2019

Vergne takes Bern pole in close battle with Evans

Formula E

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Championship leader Jean-Eric Vergne has taken pole position for the Bern EPrix, narrowly beating Mitch Evans one of 16 drivers still fighting for the title with three races to go.

Group One: Jean-Eric Vergne, Lucas di Grassi, Andre Lotterer, Robin Frijns, Antonio Felix da Costa

The track in Bern is extremely tight – making qualifying more crucial than usual for the championship leaders. Group One is always a cat-and-mouse game to see who will get out last, on what would theoretically be the best-developed track.

Robin Frijns left it extraordinarily late, crossing the line to beat the chequered flag by a tiny margin – but being rewarded with third-place in the group and a possible chance at Super Pole. Vergne and Lotterer led the group, with Di Grassi and Da Costa certainly out of Super Pole contention.

Qualifying 1

PositionDriverTeamTime
1Jean-Eric VergneDS Techeetah1’19.232
2Andre LottererDS Techeetah1’19.585
3Robin FrijnsEnvision Virgin1’19.591
4Lucas di GrassiAudi1’20.034
5Antonio Felix da CostaBMWi Andretti1’20.081

Group Two: Mitch Evans, Daniel Abt, Jerome D’Ambrosio, Oliver Rowland, Sebastien Buemi

The second qualifying group gambled with traffic nearly as much as the first, however, Mitch Evans (who won his first pole position at the Swiss EPrix last year in Zurich) pulled out the first sub-79 second lap to take what looked like a provisional Super Pole place.

Qualifying 3

PositionDriverTeamTime
1Mitch EvansPanasonic Jaguar1’18.897
2Sebastien BuemiNissan e.Dams1’19.310
3Daniel AbtAudi1’19.554
4Jerome D’AmbrosioMahindra1’19.613
5Oliver RowlandNissan e.Dams1’19.670

Group Three: Sam Bird, Edoardo Mortara, Pascal Wehrlein, Felipe Massa, Stoffel Vandoorne, Alexander Sims

Just prior to the session starting, there was a strange incident where Sam Bird was nearly released by his pit crew, then stopped and given a radio message to stay calm.

Whether it gave him a strategic hand or not, he and Wehrlein were the only drivers from the group to make it through to Super Pole. Wehrlein looked relatively secure, while Bird was down in overall fifth-place, close to the bubble for Super Pole.

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Qualifying 3

PositionDriverTeamTime
1Pascal WehrleinMahindra1’19.265
2Sam BirdEnvision Virgin1’19.435
3Felipe MassaVenturi1’19.638
4Stoffel VandoorneHWA AG1’19.719
5Alexander SimsBMWi Andretti1’19.908
6Edoardo MortaraVenturi1’20.023

Group Four: Maximilian Guenther, Gary Paffett, Oliver Turvey, Alexander Lynn, Jose-Maria Lopez, Tom Dillman

It was another difficult qualifying for NIO, whose torrid season looks set to continue in Bern, as both Dillman and Turvey qualified at the back of the group.

At the other end of the timing screen and consistently excellent in every race he’s been allowed to drive Maximilian Guenther took advantage of the track developments for Group Four to take the final Super Pole place, pushing Daniel Abt out of any further contention.

Qualifying 3

PositionDriverTeamTime
1Maximilian GuentherGEOX Dragon1’19.325
2Alex LynnPanasonic Jaguar1’19.608
3Jose-Maria LopezGEOX Dragon1’19.714
4Gary PaffettHWA AG1’19.804
5Tom DillmanNIO1’20.506
6Oliver TurveyNIO1’20.551

Super Pole: Sam Bird, Maximilian Guenther, Sebastien Buemi, Pascal Wehrlein, Jean-Eric Vergne, Mitch Evans

Sam Bird was out first with what looked like a low-grip, slightly scrappy lap that saw him visibly wrestling with the steering wheel to a 1’19.536.

Maximilian Guenther, in the slower GEOX Dragon car, managed to take two tenths out of Bird’s time with a 1’19.371 – enough for a very provisional pole position and for team boss Jay Penske to praise his mature driving, saying “That was the guy we hired.” Presumably, as repeated as the 21-year-old’s good performances have been, as Guenther was fired by the team mid-season and re-hired on a race-by-race basis.

Sebastien Buemi took a further two tenths of a second out of the times, taking provisional pole from Guenther on a 1’19.164 while Pascal Wehrlein – who had topped FP2 this morning – locked up severely in the mid sector and was four thousandths off the Nissan e.Dams’ time.

Jean-Eric Vergne came out of the first sector a quarter of a second faster than any previous driver – and managed a 1’18.813, the fastest lap in any session so far. Evans wasn’t able to beat the time, brushing the walls in the first sector and unable to make the time back to have to settle for the second front-row spot, on a 1’19.120.

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Qualifying – Full results

PositionDriverTeamTime
1Jean-Eric VergneDS Techeetah1’18.813
2Mitch EvansPanasonic Jaguar1’19.120
3Sebastien BuemiNissan e.Dams1’19.164
4Pascal WehrleinMahindra1’19.168
5Maximilian GuentherGEOX Dragon1’19.371
6Sam BirdEnvision Virgin1’19.536
7Daniel AbtAudi1’19.554
8Andre LottererDS Techeetah1’19.585
9Robin FrijnsEnvision Virgin1’19.591
10Alex LynnPanasonic Jaguar1’19.608
11Jerome D’AmbrosioMahindra1’19.613
12Felipe MassaVenturi1’19.638
13Oliver RowlandNissan e.Dams1’19.670
14Jose Maria LopezGEOX Dragon1’19.714
15Stoffel VandoorneHWA AG1’19.719
16Gary PaffettHWA AG1’19.804
17Alexander SimsBMWi Andretti1’19.804
18Edoardo MortaraVenturi1’20.023
19Lucas di GrassiAudi1’20.034
20Antonio Felix da CostaBMWi Andretti1’20.081
21Tom DillmanNIO1’20.506
22Oliver TurveyNIO1’20.551

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Hazel Southwell
Hazel is a freelance journalist who roams the paddocks of Formula E, covering the technical and emotional elements of electric racing. Usually found at...

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