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Sao Paulo E-Prix: Porsche's Wehrlein beats Vandoorne to pole by fractions

Pascal Wehrlein took his second Formula E pole position of the season for the Sao Paulo E-Prix, beating Stoffel Vandoorne by the slimmest of margins.

Pascal Wehrlein, Porsche, Porsche 99X Electric Gen3

Photo by: Alexander Trienitz

The Porsche driver gained the advantage in the opening sector in Brazil before Vandoorne responded by posting a quicker time in the remaining two sectors.

But the DS Penske racer, who started on pole in Sao Paulo last year for the inaugural race, missed out on top spot by just 0.002 seconds.

Wehrlein progressed through to the finals having beaten Maximilian Guenther by nearly three tenths after the Maserati MSG driver had a moment on the exit of Turn 18.

The German will start at the back of the grid and will need to serve a penalty in the race, though, after both his gearbox and inverter were changed prior to qualifying, equating to a 40-place grid drop.

An error in the opening sector cost Jean-Eric Vergne three tenths in a DS Penske intra-team battle with Vandoorne, who posted the fastest lap across the entirety of qualifying with a 1m12.566s.

The fastest time in all three sectors to post a 1m12.846s meant Wehrlein easily progressed into the semi-final at the expense of Edoardo Mortara, the Mahindra driver making it through to the duels for the first time this season.

It was a similar situation for Guenther who bested McLaren’s Sam Bird, while running deep into Turn 1 meant Mitch Evans dropped two tenths against Vandoorne in their quarter-final duel, with the Jaguar racer falling short by 0.156s at the end of the lap.

Jean-Eric Vergne, DS Penske, DS E-Tense FE23

Jean-Eric Vergne, DS Penske, DS E-Tense FE23

Photo by: Dom Romney / Motorsport Images

Vergne was handed a free pass in his quarter-final after Nico Muller damaged the right-front suspension on his Abt machine in the qualifying group, leaving him unable to make it out in the next stage.

Earlier, the first qualifying group was red flagged just moments into the session as debris, believed to be a weather balloon, landed on the circuit between Turns 6-7.

Once the offending item had been removed, championship leader Nick Cassidy found himself missing out on a spot in the duels by only 0.011s at the chequered flag.

The Kiwi was followed by Oliver Rowland (Nissan), Nyck de Vries (Mahindra), Lucas di Grassi (Abt), Robin Frijns (Envision), Sergio Sette Camara (ERT) and Norman Nato (Andretti).

At the top of the times, Vergne led a DS Penske 1-2 having set a 1m13.731s as Evans and Muller completed the top four.

Four different powertrain manufacturers occupied the top placings in the second group, as Guenther’s 1m13.516s left him ahead of Wehrlein, Mortara and Bird.

Porsche’s Antonio Felix da Costa narrowly missed out on a spot in the duels by 0.005s, with reigning Formula E champion Jake Dennis just half a tenth further back.

The second McLaren entry of Jake Hughes headed Sacha Fenestraz (Nissan), Jehan Daruvala (Maserati MSG), Sebastien Buemi (Envision) and Dan Ticktum (ERT).

Starting grid:

   
1
 - 
2
   
Cla Driver # Time km/h
1 Germany P. Wehrlein Porsche Team 94

1'12.789

146.395
2 Belgium S. Vandoorne DS Penske 2

+0.002

1'12.791

146.391
3 France J. Vergne DS Penske 25

+0.498

1'13.287

145.400
4 New Zealand M. Evans Jaguar Racing 9

+0.395

1'13.184

145.605
5 United Kingdom S. Bird McLaren 8

+0.419

1'13.208

145.557
6 Switzerland E. Mortara Mahindra Racing 48

+0.579

1'13.368

145.240
7 Switzerland N. Müller Team Abt 51

 

 
8 Portugal A. Felix da Costa Porsche Team 13

+1.002

1'13.791

144.407
9 New Zealand N. Cassidy Jaguar Racing 37

+1.089

1'13.878

144.237
10 United Kingdom J. Dennis Andretti Formula E 1

+1.055

1'13.844

144.304
11 United Kingdom O. Rowland Nissan e.Dams 22

+1.136

1'13.925

144.146
12 United Kingdom J. Hughes McLaren 5

+1.081

1'13.870

144.253
13 Netherlands N. de Vries Mahindra Racing 21

+1.146

1'13.935

144.126
14 France S. Fenestraz Nissan e.Dams 23

+1.178

1'13.967

144.064
15 Brazil L. di Grassi Team Abt 11

+1.173

1'13.962

144.073
16 India J. Daruvala Maserati Racing 18

+1.243

1'14.032

143.937
17 Netherlands R. Frijns Envision Racing 4

+1.198

1'13.987

144.025
18 Switzerland S. Buemi Envision Racing 16

+1.296

1'14.085

143.834
19 Brazil S. Sette Camara ERT Formula E Team 3

+1.268

1'14.057

143.889
20 United Kingdom D. Ticktum ERT Formula E Team 33

+1.326

1'14.115

143.776
21 France N. Nato Andretti Formula E 17

+1.357

1'14.146

143.716
22 Germany M. Gunther Maserati Racing 7

+0.252

1'13.041

145.890

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