While all eyes were on Mahindra Racing, it was the other team with an Indian connection in Jaguar TCS Racing, owned by the Tata Group, that shone with Mitch Evans qualifying in pole position for the Hyderabad E Prix on Saturday.
The New Zealander pipped Frenchman Jean-Eric Vergne by the tiniest of margins of 0.021 seconds.
Meanwhile, the Mahindra drivers had a poor outing and crashed out in the first stage of qualifying, with Lucas Di Grassi finishing 11th and last in his group while his teammate Oliver Rowland was just seventh fastest.
Formula E qualifying format
Formula E introduced a new qualifying format last year called the duels format. The 22 drivers are slotted into two groups based on the championship standings, with drivers in odd positions in one group and those in even places in the other.
The top four from each group progress to the quarterfinals, followed by the semifinals, before the group toppers battle it for pole position. The top eight places are set through this format, with the driver in pole position getting three points.
Drivers from the pole-sitter’s group who did not qualify for the duels fill the odd-number grid positions from ninth, with the fifth-fastest driver in that group in the first stage of qualifying starting ninth.
Rowland will start 10th, while Di Grassi will be 19th for the race. Mahindra’s Di Grassi made a mistake on his timed lap in the first qualifying stage and had to take the run-off to avoid a crash. Without the error, he might have had a chance to qualify for the knockouts.
Championship leader Pascal Wherlein, who had a massive crash in the first free practice on Friday, missed out on qualifying for the knockout stages and originally finished ninth fastest in his Porche Formula E car. However, he received a three-place grid penalty after stewards adjudged he impeded Sergio Sette Camara during the Groups stage.
Track-limit violations by the drivers marred the qualifying session, and a few of them had their times deleted. Vergne was a beneficiary of this as he progressed despite losing in the quarterfinals to Sam Bird of Jaguar TCS Racing before the latter’s time was deleted.
Vergne had no opponent in his semifinal as both drivers in quarterfinal four had their lap times deleted and progressed to the final duel against Mitch Evans by default.
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