Oliver Rowland steered to a fifth Julius Baer Pole Position in Formula E, outstripping Lucas di Grassi (ROKiT Venturi Racing) by more than half a second in properly tricky conditions as the heavens opened again in Seoul.
The future teammates faced off on a rain-soaked Seoul circuit, and both were ultra-committed and fighting at the wheel to keep everything together. Rowland had gone quickly in the middle sector through the Duels and the Yorkshireman produced again in the Final to outdo di Grassi by 0.623s with a 1m35.406s more than enough.
Mitch Evans (Jaguar TCS Racing) did his bit in the title fight to line up third, beaten to the Final by di Grassi. Stoffel Vandoorne (Mercedes-EQ) starts seventh in the Mercedes-EQ Silver Arrow 02.
By the time the Semis came around there was plenty of water down on the track surface, meaning busy hands behind the wheel for di Grassi and Evans in the first knockout.
The Jaguar driver held two big moments in a messy lap. Di Grassi was able to better hold things together to progress. Evans starts third.
Rowland eked out at tenth on Wehrlein by the end of Sector 1 but the Porsche driver wrestled time back in the stadium. By the final third of the lap, he’d overturned the deficit as Rowland wrestled to keep the car out of the wall under braking. The Brit produced the goods in a big way to close the lap in style – more than a second up on the German at the line to make it to the final. Wehrlein will line up fourth.
Second versus third was the first quarter, with Evans facing Mortara – the Kiwi consummately outdoing the Swiss by some 0.8 seconds in tricky and worsening conditions. Mortara lies sixth.
Di Grassi then faced Dennis, and by Turn 2, the Brazilian had pulled out a quarter of a second, increasing to half by the stadium section. It was comfortable for the Venturi driver to knock Dennis out, who’ll start fifth.
Sette Camara ground to a halt in the duel with Rowland, meaning the Mahindra driver effectively had a bye through to the Semis, leaving the Sette Camara eighth.
Vandoorne had Wehrlein to contend with as he looked to secure a strong starting berth. By the time the pair had made it to the Olympic Stadium, though, the German had pulled out three quarters of a second and ended up comfortably through – with both struggling for grip. Vandoorne will start seventh.
Rain had been threatening between practice and qualifying, and come the midway point of Group A’s running the drizzle moved in. Even so, Mortara went quicker than his previous best to go top and stay there. After that, though, nobody was able to improve as the rain set in. Dennis, Sette Camara and Vandoorne has just about done enough to make it to the Duels.
The Group B runners managed to get progressively quicker as they found where the grip lay on the slippery Seoul circuit. Alexander Sims (Mahindra Racing) found the wall as he pushed a little too hard to improve on a then-fifth place. The resulting Red Flag temporarily halted proceedings while the track was cleared.
Evans had to produce the goods after spinning out on his second quick lap. Teammate Nato then Vergne went top, pushing Evans out of contention for the Duels and he produced with huge pressure on. His final lap was enough to put him fourth and see him squeak through – only for his time to be removed for a minimum pit stop time infringement, temporarily.
After an investigation his time was reinstated. Vergne didn’t make it, ending his title chances on the spot.
Wehrlein, Rowland, di Grassi and Vergne made it to the knockouts.