Rowland secures pole amid qualifying drama ahead of the Berlin E-Prix Round 10

Nissan e.dams’ Oliver Rowland secured his third Julius Baer Pole Position in Formula E ahead of the Berlin E-Prix Round 10 from Tempelhof Airport, as four champions failed to set a time.

Rowland recovered for Nissan – the team one of several battling tooth-and-nail for second in the Teams’ standings – after team-mate Sebastien Buemi found himself one of four drivers to end group qualifying without setting a lap-time.

Buemi, new ABB FIA Formula E Champion Antonio Felix da Costa (DS Techeetah), Jean-Eric Vergne in the sister DS, as well as Lucas di Grassi (Audi Sport ABT Schaeffler), were all vying to be last to post a flier but miscalculated their out-laps and tripped over each other – meaning the clock ticked to zero and left the quartet at the back of the grid.

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In Super Pole, Rowland flew to the fastest time on a 1:15.955 – looking confident with the feel of his Nissan IM02 - able to play with the rear end of the car to rotate through corners, nibbling the kerbs nicely at the apex.

“I’ve been building up for a while now and this was a really good session,” he said. “Seb (Buemi) was very unfortunate to miss his lap, and the key for us is to score points but it would nice to win starting from pole. The tyres and a number of other things will, as always, be difficult to manage but one step done ahead of the race this evening.”

Envision Virgin Racing’s Robin Frijns missed out by just 0.049 seconds after a tidy Super Pole effort, with Neel Jani (TAG Heuer Porsche) posting the third quickest time.

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Rene Rast seems to have an edge over Lucas di Grassi in qualifying just now as he has bested his team-mate in three out of five qualifying sessions, albeit as part of later qualifying groups, in Berlin. The German got the job done to make his first Super Pole and fly to fourth.

Mahindra Racing’s Alex Lynn impressed again with fifth, whilst Tom Blomqvist (Panasonic Jaguar Racing) pulled out all the stops for sixth. The British-Swedish driver had only completed two practice sessions at Tempelhof prior to qualifying but it didn’t seem to phase him.

“It’s been a crazy two weeks,” said Blomqvist. “This came about late in the day so it’s a massive surprise to be standing here.

“I’ve surprised myself quite honestly, and the team have trusted me with a bit of blind faith that I could step in and do a job. Big thanks to them and big thanks to Mitch (Evans) too as I’ve known him a few years and he’s given me a few tips.”

Andre Lotterer (TAG Heuer Porsche), Felipe Massa (ROKiT Venturi Racing), Sergio Sette Camara (Geox Dragon) and Edo Mortara in the sister Venturi rounded out the top ten.

Group drama

Nissan e.dams’ acting team principal Vincent Gaillardo explained the melee. “We saw that it was very tight between all the competitors out there,” he said. “The grip will increase step-by-step on this new layout and to play the game in group one, you have to be last on the road but unfortunately everyone tried to play the same game and it didn’t work.”

Gaillardo and the team would have been relieved to see Rowland progress and go on to take pole and pre-race points, with all eyes on the Teams’ standings and pace more than evident in its car in Berlin but BMW i Andretti Motorsport, among others, are ready to pounce - Max Guenther from 13th and Alex Sims 15th.

“Nobody wants to be first as the track keeps on getting better and it’s that sensitive,” added an exasperated da Costa. “The two guys out front made it tough for us and went slower and they’re entitled to do that.

“I honestly don’t know what to say. Lucas (di Grassi) could have passed me if he wanted to. Into the final sector, I understood we were too late and once I tried to speed up, I had two cars running next to me. It’s an horrendous feeling.”

The Berlin E-Prix Round 10 will get underway at 19:00 CEST at the New Berlin Tempelhof Circuit.

Qualifying | Round 10 | 2020 Berlin E-Prix