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NIO on track at the Jakarta E-Prix

Jakarta qualifying: Günther becomes a first-time polesitter for Maserati

After topping both FP1 and FP2, Günther held onto this excellent form all the way through qualifying

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Maximilian Günther comes out on top to take his first-ever pole position after being quickest all weekend. 

The Maserati of Maximilian Günther on track at the Jakarta E-Prix
Can Günther carry his pace through into the race? (Image credit: @maseratimsg on Twitter)

After a couple of weeks off, Formula E is back in action, taking to the sweltering streets of Jakarta. Friday’s practice session saw Maserati’s Maximilian Günther establish himself as a pacesetter, putting in the fastest lap of FP1. Just behind Günther was his teammate, Edoardo Mortara, which could spell a promising Saturday for the Monegasque team.

Saturday’s practice session went along similar lines. Günther was the fastest yet again, followed by Avalanche Andretti’s Jake Dennis and the Jaguar of Sam Bird.

Ahead of qualifying, it’s important to note that there’s been a few changes on the grid since Monaco. British driver Oliver Rowland and Mahindra Racing have parted ways after reaching a “mutual agreement”, with the Spaniard Roberto Merhi stepping in. And Porsche reserve driver David Beckmann will drive alongside Jake Dennis this weekend, as Andretti’s André Lotterer heads to testing in Le Mans.

Of course, we shouldn’t forget that it’s our first qualifying session with our new championship leader. After his win at the Monaco E-Prix, Envision’s Nick Cassidy heads the standings,

The Groups

Group A

McLaren’s Jack Hughes was the first out on track with a scrappy, messy lap. The Brit wrestled for control of the car, nearly losing the rear at one point and locking up at another. Unsurprisingly, his time was quickly bested by the other cars on track. 

Jake Dennis put in the fastest lap early on with a 1:09.267. Stoffel Vandoorne soon improved upon this, going two-hundredths quicker with a 1:09.245. Meanwhile Hughes, down in P10, aborted a promising-looking lap. With the pace set by Dennis and Vandoorne, the cars returned to the pits ahead of the final minutes of the session.

Thirty seconds remain…

There was all to play for as the drivers aimed to put in one last quick lap. Jake Dennis looked strong once again, going fastest with an impressive 1:09.013. Vandoorne took P2, with his teammate Jean-Eric Vergne just under two-tenths behind him. Championship leader Nick Cassidy seemed set to go into the duels, until a superb lap by Robin Frijns pushed him out of the top four.

Through to the quarter-finals: Dennis, Vandoorne, Vergne, and Frijns

Group B

Sébastien Buemi took to the circuit first, a neat lap earning him a 1:09.304. As more times were set, Pascal Wehrlein went fastest as he entered into the 1:08s. Behind Wehrlein was Günther, who had been quick all weekend, and then Jaguar’s Mitch Evans. Antonio Félix da Costa found some more pace, scraping into the top four, but remaining four-tenths down on his teammate.

The last moments of the session…

After a trip to the pits, the drivers came back on track, hoping for one last quick lap. McLaren’s Rene Rast put in a strong lap, pushing out Envision’s Sébastien Buemi. Da Costa couldn’t hang onto P4, failing to make it through to the duels. Instead, Edoardo Mortara took his place, sending both Maseratis through.

Through to the quarter-finals: Günther, Wehrlein, Rast, and Mortara

The Duels
Quarter-final one: Vergne vs Vandoorne

The DS Penskes took one another on, the first of two teammate-vs-teammate duels. Vergne was out first, just three-hundredths up on Vandoorne. Things quickly swung the other way, with Vandoorne then three-tenths up on

The two were then completely evenly matched, with it all coming down to the final corner. In the end, Vergne just managed to pip Vandoorne to the next stage of the duels.

Vergne goes through to the semi-finals.

Quarter-final two: Frijns vs Dennis

Robin Frijns was initially up on Dennis, before things begun to swing in the Brit’s favour. Once Dennis had the advantage, his gap on Frijns only continued to grow. Dennis safely crossed the line over four-tenths up on Frijns.

Dennis goes through to the semi-finals.

Quarter-final three: Rast vs Wehrlein

Pascal Wehrlein was immediately quickest, already pulling almost three-tenths on Rast in the first sector alone. Wehrlein’s lead continued to increase, a strong half a second up on the McLaren. By the time the chequered flag waved, Wehrlein was six-tenths clear and well on his way to the semi-finals.

Wehrlein goes through to the semi-finals.

Quarter-final four: Mortara vs Günther

The second teammate battle got underway, with another very closely matched pairing. Mortara slid his way around the circuit, handing a hefty advantage to Günther. Max Günther was safely three-tenths up on his teammate, handing him a place in the semis.

Günther goes through to the semi-finals.

The Semi-Finals
Semi-final one: Vergne vs Dennis

With a head-to-head of 3-0 in favour of Vergne, all eyes were on the Frenchman in this duel. Into the first few corners, Vergne held the advantage — but this quickly changed, as Dennis was soon three-tenths up on the DS Penske driver. Dennis held onto the lead the rest of the way around the circuit, scoring the Andretti driver a place in the final.

Jake Dennis goes through to the final.

Semi-final two: Wehrlein vs Günther

Pascal Wehrlein was the first out, but Günther ran quicker through the first sector. Max Günther continued to improve on his time with every corner he took, steadily putting a healthy handful of tenths between him and the Porsche driver. It was yet another continuation of the Maserati driver’s excellent form this weekend.

The Final: Dennis vs Günther

Dennis was out first, keeping it tidy as he makes his way through the first sector. The Andretti driver kisses the wall, but it’s not enough — Günther is quicker, and seems on track to take his first ever pole position…

The two drivers take on the last sector, and Günther’s advantage remains. In fact, it only continues to grow, and as Maximilian Günther crosses the line he becomes a first-time polesitter in Formula E championship. It’s the cherry on top of what’s been a perfect weekend for the German so far.

Full starting grid is available here.

Featured Image Credit: NIO 333 Formula E Team on Twitter

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