Puebla E-Prix: Wehrlein beats Rowland to pole position; championship leader Frijns P22


June 19, 2021

by Topher Smith

Pascal Wehrlein denied Oliver Rowland pole position in Puebla as the German topped group stages and Super Pole, while BMW i Andretti shined with Jake Dennis in third and Maximilian Günther in fifth.

Ready for action in the opening group was: Robin Frijns, Nyck de Vries, Mitch Evans, Antonio Felix da Costa, Sam Bird and Stoffel Vandoorne.

True to Formula E tradition, the entire group waited until later in the allocated six minutes to head out onto the circuit.

Evans eventually led the group out as all six drivers shared the same piece of tarmac and fought for position as if they were already in the race. The group made it to the line just in time to start their laps, but both Frijns and Bird locked up into turn one and cost themselves a shot at Super Pole.

The group set their times, with reigning champion da Costa setting a benchmark of 1:24.881s as a few spots of rain started to fall.

Evans ended second fastest ahead of de Vries and Bird, while Frijns and Vandoorne were over a second slower.

After group one

1) da Costa (DS Techeetah) 1:24.881s
2) Evans (Jaguar Racing) +0.053s
3) de Vries (Mercedes-Benz EQ) +0.506s
4) Bird (Jaguar Racing) +0.907s
5) Frijns (Envision Virgin Racing) +1.265s
6) Vandoorne (Mercedes-Benz EQ) +1.532s

The second group saw positions seven to 12 in the championship aim for Super Pole: Jean-Eric Vergne, Rene Rast, Rowland, Dennis, Edoardo Mortara and Wehrlein.

Mortara broke the silence on Group 2 with two minutes left on the clock, the six drivers once again electing to leave it later to set their times.

Track evolution was playing its part as the entire group went quicker than Group 1, the TAG Heuer Porsche of Wehrlein going three tenths quicker than anyone with practice pace setter Rowland going second quickest.

Dennis beat former champion Vergne to the third fastest time, while Mortara and Rast went P5 and P6 respectively.

After group two

1) Wehrlein (TAG Heuer Porsche) 1:23.505s
2) Rowland (Nissan e.dams) +0.303s
3) Dennis (BMW i Andretti) +0.381s
4) Vergne (DS Techeetah) +0.491s
5) Mortara (ROKiT Venturi Racing) +0.781s
6) Rast (Audi Sport ABT Schaeffler) +1.313s

The third group featured: Alexander Sims, Alex Lynn, Maximilian Günther, Nick Cassidy, Andre Lotterer and Lucas di Grassi.

The BMW i Andretti of Günther was the first of the group to set a time and ultimately was the only Group 3 driver to book a top six finish as the German went fifth fastest, no one else in the group able to find enough time on their laps as Sims took the seventh fastest time ahead of di Grassi, while Lotterer went P10.

After group three

1) Wehrlein (TAG Heuer Porsche) 1:23.505s
2) Rowland (Nissan e.dams) +0.303s
3) Dennis (BMW i Andretti) +0.381s
4) Vergne (DS Techeetah) +0.491s
5) Günther (BMW i Andretti) +0.567s
6) Mortara (ROKiT Venturi Racing) +0.781s

The final group of the session was made up of: Oliver Turvey, Sergio Sette Camara, Sebastien Buemi, Norman Nato, Tom Blomqvist and debutant Joel Eriksson.

Fighting for a place in Super Pole, Nato pushed his ROKiT Venturi Racing too hard and slide out wide at the final corner, ruining his lap and ending his chance of a top six finish.

The Dragon / Penske Autosport duo of Sette Camara and Eriksson - both set for grid penalties for inverter changes - took P9 and P14 respectively, while Turvey and Buemi endured disappointing laps. Blomqvist made mistakes on his flying lap and ended seven seconds off the pace.

After group four

1) Wehrlein (TAG Heuer Porsche) 1:23.505s
2) Rowland (Nissan e.dams) +0.303s
3) Dennis (BMW i Andretti) +0.381s
4) Vergne (DS Techeetah) +0.491s
5) Günther (BMW i Andretti) +0.567s
6) Mortara (ROKiT Venturi Racing) +0.781s

So with the apparent track evolution not coming to fruition later in the group stages, five of the six drivers from Group 2 made it through into Super Pole with the aim of taking the first position around the Puebla circuit.

Mortara was the first to go for his Super Pole lap, but overdrove his ROKiT Venturi Racing and went straight on at turn 11, ruining a lap that ended as a 1:27.217s.

Günther, in his fifth Super Pole appearance of the season, endured a scruffy lap in which he struggled to get the power down out of a few corners, setting a 1:25.095s to lay down a new benchmark for the remaining four drivers.

Taking aim at his 12th Formula E pole position, two-time series champion Vergne was next and immediately went purple in sector one. The Frenchman followed that up with a purple middle sector and completed a strong lap with a 1:24.282s, eight tenths faster than Günther.

Three down, three to go in Super Pole with Valencia pole sitter and race winner Dennis next on track.

The Englishman went a tenth faster than Vergne in the opening sector before improving by another tenth in the middle part of the lap. Two further tenths gained on Vergne in the final sector gave Dennis provisional pole by four tenths of a second with only two drivers left to run.

The penultimate driver was Rowland, who had gone fastest in both practice sessions and was one of the favourites to take pole before the session began.

The Nissan e.dams driver was a tenth up in the first sector and found a little more time in the middle to set himself up for a run to the line. The Englishman lost a little bit of time in the final corner but had done enough in the first two sectors to usurp Dennis of provisional pole by a mere 0.041s.

Last, but not least, Wehrlein went out thinking about his second career pole position and first for TAG Heuer Porsche. Matching Rowland in the first sector, the German produced a huge middle sector and went on to take pole position in Puebla by 0.058s.

After Super Pole

1) Wehrlein (TAG Heuer Porsche) 1:23.780s
2) Rowland (Nissan e.dams) +0.058s
3) Dennis (BMW i Andretti) +0.099s
4) Vergne (DS Techeetah) +0.502s
5) Günther (BMW i Andretti) +1.315s
6) Mortara (ROKiT Venturi Racing) +3.437s

Less than a tenth of a second separates the top three after Super Pole, with pole sitter Wehrlein hoping to convert pole position into his maiden Formula E victory.

Image credit: FIA Formula E Media

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