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Jake Dennis on track during free practice for the Formula E London E-prix

London E-Prix: Round 15 Qualifying Results

The season finale gets underway in the city of London

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Mitch Evans takes pole position for the first round of the London E-Prix, frustrating championship leader Jake Dennis.

Jake Dennis, Avalanche Andretti Formula E, Porsche 99 X Electric Gen3
Britain’s Jake Dennis headed into the session as the championship leader. (Image credit: Andrew Ferraro via Formula E Media Bank)

Qualifying at the unique indoor-outdoor London circuit is critical. Overtaking at the ExCeL Centre track tends to be a tricky affair. In fact, no driver has won the London E-Prix from lower than third on the grid.

For the title contenders, Saturday’s qualifying session could be the make or break for their Championship-winning chances. Making it through the group stages is essential; succeeding in the duels, equally so.

The Groups

Group A

The track had dried up following the slightly damp Free Practice 2 earlier that morning. As the Group A cars took to the track, Mitch Evans cemented his spot as an early pace setter. The Jaguar driver, who stands third in the championship, went just over a tenth faster than standings leader Jake Dennis.

Dennis was quick to challenge that. The Andretti driver soon put in a lap time of 1:11.149, six-tenths up on Evans. Also going quicker than Evans was Sergio Sette Câmara, whose time was then bested by Maserati’s Edoardo Mortara.

The cars recouped in the paddock, where an alarming radio message from Dennis was broadcast. The audibly concerned Andretti driver complained of a “huge power cut” in Turn 9.

With four minutes to go, Vandoorne and Vergne found themselves stuck at the bottom of the time sheets, over a second behind Dennis. The DS Penskes returned to the track, eager to improve upon their previous times. And improve they did, with Vandoorne and Vergne jumping up to third and fourth respectively.

Sam Bird joined the top four, placing third and pushing Vergne out of duels-contention. Meanwhile, a purple sector two popped McLaren driver Rene Rast into P2. With thirty seconds on the clock, Mitch Evans was the group leader, holding a 0.081s advantage over Rast.

Dennis’ final lap looked rapid, the Andretti driver seeking to challenge Mitch Evans. The lap was as quick as it looked, the Brit beating Evans’ time by 0.030s.

Through to the quarter-finals: Dennis, Evans, Vandoorne, Rast

Group B

Jake Dennis delivered in Group A — would title challenger Nick Cassidy be able to do the same? As the session got underway, it seemed the answer was yes. Cassidy was quickest right off the bat, putting in a time of 1:11.604. Second quickest was Max Günther, who was a couple of tenths behind the Envision driver.

Not satisfied with second, Günther soon improved on his time, going fastest overall. But that time was then surpassed by Cassidy’s teammate Sebastien Buemi and Nissan driver Norman Nato. After topping the timesheets in Friday’s free practice session, Nissan and Nato’s strong pace looked set to continue.

Nissan rookie Sacha Fenestraz went fourth fastest, whilst ABT Cupra driver Nico Müller took P3. With just over four minutes on the clock, Cassidy – who was now only eighth fastest – set out to record a better time. A purple sector one put the Envision driver on strong footing, but the lap soon unravelled. Pushing a little too hard, Cassidy went wide at the Turn 16 hairpin.

Cassidy luckily had enough time on the clock for a second attempt. As the final seconds ticked by, it was full send for the title challenger. Cassidy tore his way around the circuit, putting in a time of 1:10.721. “That was the highest pressure moment,” said Cassidy over the radio. “I think that was enough.”

Cassidy tore his way around the circuit, putting in a time of 1:10.721. “That was the highest pressure moment,” said Cassidy over the radio. “I think that was enough.”

It certainly was. Behind Nick Cassidy was teammate Buemi, a 1-2 for Envision. Though Nissan had looked strong initially, it soon fell away from them. Nato and Fenestraz were beaten to the chase by Dan Ticktum. Meanwhile, Pascal Wehrlein also managed to secure himself a spot in the top four — a good result for Porsche, who have struggled in qualifying as of late.

Through to the quarter-finals: Cassidy, Buemi, Ticktum, Wehrlein 

The Duels
Quarter Final One: Vandoorne vs Evans

The defending champion and title challenger were the first drivers to go head to head. Evans was immediately the quickest of the two, with over a tenth on Vandoorne. What was just one tenth soon became five, Evans comfortably clear of the DS Penske driver. Unable to close the gap, Vandoorne lost the duel to Evans.

Evans goes through to the semi-finals.

Quarter Final Two: Rast vs Dennis

Rast took an early advantage over the championship leader, going 0.050s quicker than the Andretti driver in the first sector. That advantage didn’t last overly long, as Dennis was quick to put a couple of tenths over Rast. Dennis continued with that flying pace, crossing the line three-tenths up on the McLaren driver.

Dennis goes through to the semi-finals.

Quarter final three: Ticktum vs Buemi

Buemi was quickest of the pair in sector one, and continued that trend into sector two. Two-tenths down on Buemi, Ticktum soon began to close the gap. The NIO333 driver couldn’t quite put it together, and Buemi crossed the line victorious.

Buemi goes through to the semi-finals.

Quarter final four: Cassidy vs Wehrlein

With both Porsche and Envision fighting for the Teams’ Championship, this was an important battle. Cassidy eked out an initial advantage over Wehrlein, which he then continued to build upon. The Envision driver embarked on the third sector over three-tenths quicker than Wehrlein. That advantage then became 0.444s, handing Cassidy the spot in the semi-finals.

Cassidy goes through to the semi-finals.

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

Nails were being bitten in both the Jaguar and Andretti garages as Evans and Dennis went up against one another. Dennis took the slightest advantage through the first sector, putting 0.024s over Evans. But a snap of oversteer soon handed Evans the tools he needed to get ahead of the championship leader.

Evans continued to build upon that advantage, increasing his lead on Dennis a tenth at a time. The Jaguar driver crossed the line quickest, over four tenths up on Jake Dennis in what could be a bit of an upset for the Brit.

Evans goes through to the final.

Semi-final two: Cassidy vs Buemi

With the two Envisions going head to head, and with Cassidy in the running for the title, it looked like team tactics could enter into play. Buemi was initially quickest of the pair, but soon went off — cue the speculation over whether it was deliberate or not. Naturally, that mistake handed Cassidy the advantage he needed to secure his spot in the final duel.

Cassidy goes through to the final.

The Final: Evans v Cassidy

The Jaguar powertrain reigned supreme as Jaguar and its customer team Envision began to battle it out. Taking pole position would be a matter of damage control for Mitch Evans, who faces a five place grid penalty for the incident with Cassidy at the Rome E-Prix.

The two drivers were neck-and-neck, Evans taking the most marginal of leads. Cassidy increased the pace, going over a tenth quicker than Mitch Evans. With every second counting, a small lockup from Cassidy saw the duel begin to go Evans’ way. The Jaguar driver eventually crossed the line ahead of Cassidy, putting it on pole.

With Evans’ penalty applied, Cassidy will start from the front of the grid. But Evans leaves with three extra points under his belt — three points that could have been crucial for Nick Cassidy.

The starting grid

Featured Image Credit: Simon Galloway via Formula E Media Bank 

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