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The Porsche of Pascal Wehrlein on track at the Monaco E-Prix

Monaco Qualifying: Nissan surprise as the usual order is reshuffled

Fenestraz secures his second pole position of the season as Nissan set the pace

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Nissan driver Sacha Fenestraz takes pole position in a qualifying session that saw a mix up of the usual order.

Nissan of Norman Nato at the Monaco E-Prix
Nissan unleashed some serious pace around the streets of Monaco. (Image credit: Formula E)

Mitch Evans and Maximilian Günther set the pace early this morning in FP1 and FP2 respectively. Günther set a benchmark time of 1:29.269 in FP2, with what was the fastest lap ever completed on a full Formula E circuit. But Evans wasn’t far off the Maserati driver’s pace, clocking in at only 0.007s behind Günther.

Neither of the Porsches ranked in the top 10 in either Free Practice session. Conversely, Jaguar and DS Penske seemed quick in both qualifying sessions. Porsche’s apparent lack of pace could be bad news for Pascal Wehrlein’s championship lead, which has narrowed significantly in recent races. Now, the German has Envision’s Nick Cassidy nipping at his heels, just four points behind him in the standings.

The Groups

Group A

Jaguar’s Sam Bird was the first out, followed by teammate Mitch Evans. As the drivers recorded their first lap, it was Evans who was quickest, 0.145s up on Sacha Fenestraz. The DS Penskes started to look quick, and it wasn’t long before Jéan-Éric Vergne jumped to the top of the timesheets.

Wehrlein looked to be struggling for pace, stuck in P7. Evans put in a flying lap, coming across the line with a time of 1:30.432, a tenth up on Vergne.

Andre Lotterer went purple in sector three, moving up to P3. Wehrlein squeezed some performance from his Porsche, putting in a lap to go fourth quickest. But the Nissans had impressive pace, and soon both cars were in the top four, pushing Werhlein back down to P7.

It came down to the final seconds as Wehrlein tried to secure a place in the duels. It was Lotterer that beat Wehrlein to the chase, going quickest. The drivers completed their final laps and the order shifted — Lotterer out, Ticktum in, and a double duels appearance for Nissan.

DS Penske was investigated for a ‘technical infraction’, and consequently had their lap times deleted. They will start the E-Prix further back on the grid.

Through to the duels: Nato, Fenestraz, Ticktum, and Evans

Group B

It was Maximilian Günther that put in the first fastest lap, with a time of 1:30.638. Cassidy’s limited running in Free Practice didn’t seem to be a problem, as the Envision driver was only 0.043s off of Günther’s time. The NIO of Sette Câmara had pace, holding onto P3 in the early stages of the session. Just behind him was Di Grassi in the Mahindra.

Oliver Rowland slide his way through the third sector, as da Costa reportedly took damage to the front left of his Porsche. The Porsche looked tricky to handle as da Costa came through Swimming Pool, the Portuguese driver stuck at the bottom of the standings.

Both of the Maseratis seemed quick, as Günther held onto P1. However, the McLaren of Jake Hughes was a mere 0.004s behind him. Cassidy made a last-minute lunge for a place in the duels, but his flying lap was hindered by traffic as he became stuck behind Maximilian Günther. The championship challenger ultimately fell short, finishing P5.

Through to the duels: Günther, Hughes, Sette Câmara, and Mortara

The Duels
Quarter final one: Ticktum vs Fenestraz

Dan Ticktum began to make his way around the streets of Monaco, and Fenestraz put a tenth between them. Ticktum began to catch the Nissan driver, closing the gap bit by bit. He lost some time through La Rascasse as Fenestraz began to widen the gap between them once more. It was Sacha Fenestraz that finished ahead, three-tenths up on Ticktum.

Fenestraz goes through to the semi-finals.

Quarter final two: Evans vs Nato

The second of Nissans began their duel lap, but it was Evans’ Jaguar that started off quickest. It was a margin of just seven-hundredths of a second, but it continued to grow as they wound their way around the circuit. Nato suddenly jumped ahead, picking up time through the Swimming Pool.

From there, Nato only continued to gain time, ultimately finishing three-tenths ahead of Mitch Evans. That’s both Nissans through to the semi-finals — where has this pace suddenly come from?

Nato goes through to the semi-finals.

Quarter final three: Mortara vs Hughes

Mortara was the first out, but it was Hughes who started ahead. Mortara began to catch the McLaren driver, but Hughes was quick to extend the gap once more. Hughes’ advantage grew to almost four-tenths, allowing the McLaren driver to comfortably pass through to the semi-finals.

Hughes goes through to the semi-finals. 

Quarter final four: Sette Câmara vs Günther

The NIO of Sette Câmara set the pace, a comfortable gap between himself and Günther. A lockup from Günther handed a sizeable advantage to Sette Câmara, putting a gap of almost half a second between the two.

Preliminarily, Sette Câmara made it through to the semis — but the NIO driver was soon under investigation for breaking qualifying procedure. The qualifying session ground to a halt as the stewards looked into whether Sette Câmara had left the pit lane under a red light.

It was ultimately found that Sergio Sette Câmara had infringed the rules. As such, the NIO driver had his best lap time deleted.

Günther goes through to the semi-finals. 

The Semi-Finals
Nato vs Fenestraz

It was the battle of the teammates — but who would come out on top?

Nato flew through Sainte Devote, but Sacha Fenestraz was immediately up on his teammate by over a tenth of a second. Norman Nato soon began to catch, picking up some time through Tabac. The gap between them was marginal, only five-hundredths separating the two Nissans.

But as the rear of Nato’s car slid out from him slightly, Feneztraz picked up some significant time. A whopping lap from Fenestraz secured his place in the finals, as the young driver came across the line with a 1:28.773.

Fenestraz heads to the finals.

Hughes vs Günther

Jake Hughes set the pace, but Günther was quick to begin catching. The McLaren driver held onto the advantage and continued to widen it, putting almost half a second between himself and the Maserati driver. A neat and tidy lap from Hughes helped him to cement his place in the final.

Hughes heads to the finals.

The Final: Fenestraz vs Hughes

Both Hughes and Fenestraz had the potential to take pole in Monaco — in fact, both drivers have already taken a pole position each this season.

Hughes looked quick right off the bat as he flew his way around the iconic street circuit. He was up on Fenestraz by four-hundredths, but a snap of oversteer of the hairpin lost him some time. Things then went from difficult to downright terrible for Hughes, as the McLaren driver went too deep into the chicane.

Sacha Fenestraz went on to take the second pole position of his Formula E career. The Nissans have seriously impressed this qualifying session, securing P1 and P3 on the starting grid. The usual order has been reshuffled; the DS Penskes starting at the very back of the grid, and the championship leaders are stuck somewhere around the middle of the pack. Who will go on to win the Monaco E-Prix?

UPDATE: Sacha Fenestraz was found to have exceeded the 350kW power usage. He has had his pole lap deleted. Jake Hughes will start the Monaco E-Prix from pole position.

The starting grid
  1. Jake Hughes
  2. Sacha Fenestraz
  3. Norman Nato
  4. Maximilian Günther
  5. Dan Ticktum
  6. Mitch Evans
  7. Edoardo Mortara
  8. Sérgio Sette Câmara
  9. Nick Cassidy
  10. André Lotterer
  11. Jake Dennis
  12. Pascal Wehrlein
  13. Oliver Rowland
  14. René Rast
  15. Sébastien Buemi
  16. Sam Bird
  17. Nico Müller
  18. Robin Frijns
  19. António Félix da Costa
  20. Lucas di Grassi
  21. Stoffel Vandoorne
  22. Jean-Eric Vergne

Featured Image Credit: Formula E

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