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Sao Paulo E-Prix: Vandoorne pips da Costa to pole

Reigning Formula E champion Stoffel Vandoorne will start from pole for the inaugural Sao Paulo E-Prix after pipping Antonio Felix da Costa to the fastest time.

Stoffel Vandoorne, DS Penske, DS E-Tense FE23

Photo by: Sam Bagnall / Motorsport Images

The DS Penske driver was marginally slower in the opening sector in Brazil during the qualifying final shootout, but found over a tenth of a second in the middle sector to put him in prime position.

The Belgian held his advantage through the final sector to post a 1m11.904s, which put him 0.063s clear of Porsche driver da Costa to ensure he secured his maiden pole for DS Penske and first of the season.

Da Costa, winner last time out at the Cape Town E-Prix, will start second for this afternoon’s race.

The Portuguese driver booked his place in the final having recovered from being behind Jaguar’s Mitch Evans early in the second semi-final. He found two tenths on his Kiwi rival in the final sector to go through with a 1m11.982s, the gap was just 0.040s at the line.

Vandoorne had set a slightly faster time moments earlier – a 1m11.929s – to edge Edoardo Mortara in the opening semi-final as the Maserati MSG driver lost out by nearly two tenths.

A quicker time for Evans means he will start third on the grid, with Mortara alongside in fourth.

A mistake at Turn 7 for Jake Hughes (McLaren) handed Vandoorne his spot in the semi-final, the Briton losing six tenths after running slightly wide as Vandoorne posted a 1m11.920s.

Da Costa meanwhile disposed of the other Maserati car in his quarter-final, comfortably beating Maximilian Guenther by two tenths with a 1m11.982s.

Sam Bird lost out to Jaguar team-mate Evans in the quarter-finals, but set the fastest losing time with a 1m12.037s to qualify fifth.

Stoffel Vandoorne, DS Penske, with his Julius Baer pole position award

Stoffel Vandoorne, DS Penske, with his Julius Baer pole position award

Photo by: Sam Bagnall / Motorsport Images

However, Bird will start 10th though due to a five-place grid penalty for a collision with Evans in Hyderabad which he was unable to serve in Cape Town.

Mortara edged Nick Cassidy in the closest quarter-final battle, as the Envision driver missed out by only 0.018s.

Vandoorne had earlier topped Group A, posting a 1m12.761s which put him 0.091s clear of Cassidy with Mortara and Hughes also booking their spots in the duels – the top four covered by less than a tenth-and-a-half.

The biggest casualty from the qualifying group was championship leader Pascal Wehrlein, as the Porsche driver ended up more than half a second off the pace and could only finish eighth in the session, consigning him to 18th on the grid.

Earlier there had been a red-flag at the halfway point in the 12-minute session when Sergio Sette Camara came to a stop after hitting a bump before the Turn 4 chicane, which caused a system reset for his NIO 333 machine.

Bird was fastest in Group B with a 1m12.669s, just 0.029s faster than Guenther, as da Costa and Evans completed the top four.

Jake Dennis, second in the championship, failed to capitalise on Wehrlein’s poor qualifying as he could only set the seventh quickest time – 0.322s off Bird’s best – and will start 14th.

Brazilian driver Lucas di Grassi will start last for his home race after the Mahindra driver hit the wall with his right-front wheel at Turn 8 early in Group B qualifying.

Sao Paolo E-Prix Qualifying results

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