Sebastien Buemi claims his ninth career pole in Formula E as Audi Sport ABT Schaeffler’s domination in practice fails to carry over into qualifying.
As heavy fog continued to lurk over the Moulay El Hassan circuit, Group 1 consisting of André Lotterer, Lucas di Grassi, Tom Blomqvist (replacing Kamui Kobayashi), Jérôme D’Ambrosio and José María López (replacing Neel Jani) were first to face the interesting conditions, with Lotterer and debutant Blomqvist being the first ones out on track two minutes into their allotted six minutes.
Lotterer was the first to set a benchmark time with a 1m21.222s before being toppled by Blomqvist, despite hitting the wall twice, who then got dislodged by di Grassi whilst the returning López slotted into second. D’Ambrosio failed to make much of an impression, finishing fourth in the group as Lotterer lingered at the bottom of the timing sheets with three groups of five to come.
Next on track was Group 2 which contained season two champion Buemi and his team-mate Nico Prost. They were joined by Maro Engel, Alex Lynn and Luca Filippi.
Biding their time in a similar fashion to the first group, Prost and Filippi were first out of the gates putting their cars fourth and third respectively. Engel went fifth and Lynn third, before Buemi demoted the Brit to fourth in a rather uneventful group as everyone made it through their laps unscathed.
The heavy hitting group of Sam Bird, Jean-Éric Vergne, Felix Rosenqvist, Edoardo Mortara and Nick Heidfeld were next to try and displace Di Grassi’s Audi Sport ABT Schaeffler at the peak.
Mahindra’s Rosenqvist went first as he became the first driver to beat di Grassi’s time with a 1m20.115s. Vergne went eighth, Bird fifth, but for Heidfeld it would end in disaster as he went into the wall at turn eight. Mortara was unable to set a 200kw lap after stopping out on track.
With the final group delayed as marshals worked on clearing up turn eight, Rosenqvist led the way with a 1m20.115s, di Grassi second, Lopez third, Buemi fourth with Bird rounding out the top five.
After the cleanup was completed, Evans headed out on track followed by Piquet, da Costa, Turvey and Abt, with four minute remaining to put in a lap to attempt to demote current pole sitter Rosenqvist.
Evans had a great opening sector to his 200kw lap, but had a rough third sector and had to settle for seventh, to only be demoted a place as his team-mate Nelson Piquet Jr who put his Jaguar into seventh.
Before anyone else could put in a 200kw lap, da Costa collided with the wall at turn seven to bring out the first red flag of the session. As a result, Turvey and Abt were allowed to head back out on track once the stricken Andretti was removed to put in their 200kw laps.
Session back underway, Free Practice 2 pace-setter Daniel Abt was first on track setting a purple in sector one but lost time in two and three, meaning he had to settle for eighth. Turvey had a respectable outing, but was only able to slot into 10th.
That meant Rosenqvist, di Grassi, Lopez, Buemi and the surprised Bird moved on to Super Pole.
Going out from fifth to first, Bird set the benchmark of a 1m20.615s, which was slower than Rosenqvist’s lap earlier in the session. Next on track was Buemi, who was in dire need of a good Super Pole after an awful start to the season in Hong Kong. Fastest times in sector one and two saw Buemi put his Renault on top with a 1m.20.355s.
Lopez had a slippery lap as he ended up 1.014s adrift of Buemi. Reigning champion di Grassi was the penultimate driver on track, and despite being fastest in the opening sector he was only able to come home fourth, reporting an issue with car on his way back to the pits.
Finally, the quickest driver heading into Super Pole, Rosenqvist had a horrible middle sector but was able to recover in the final sector to go third.
Buemi takes his ninth career pole, Bird second, Rosenqvist third, Lopez fourth and di Grassi fifth.