Wehrlein snatches São Paulo pole by finest of margins

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Mexico City winner Pascal Wehrlein will start the 2024 São Paulo E-Prix from pole position, after defeating last season’s poleman Stoffel Vandoorne by just 0.002 secs.

Vandoorne progressed to the Final after defeating teammate Jean-Eric Vergne, whilst Wehrlein defeated Maximilian Günther. Günther’s time was good enough for third, although the German has a 40-place grid penalty.

Behind the top four, Mitch Evans qualified in fifth, Sam Bird in sixth, Edoardo Mortara in seventh with Nico Müller in eighth. However, as a result of Günther’s penalty, all drivers will move forward one-place.

Championship leader Nick Cassidy and reigning World Champion Jake Dennis failed to make the duels.

Group A

The opening group got off to perhaps the weirdest start in Formula E history, as a weather balloon from the airport next door blew onto the circuit, resulting in a red flag after 45 seconds.

Championship leader Cassidy and last season’s São Paulo winner Evans both featured in the opening group, as did both DS Penske drivers – Vandoorne claimed pole last season.

Halfway through the group and Cassidy sat at the top on a 1:13.878 secs, ahead of Vandoorne, Vergne and Evans. In the closing minutes of the first group, traffic was a significant problem.

It was all change come the end of play, as Vergne topped a DS Penske one-two, with Evans securing third with Abt Cupra’s Müller in fourth. Cassidy could only manage P5 and will start from the fifth row of the grid.

Group B

The news ahead of the second group was that Günther’s qualifying result was irrelevant, as he has a 40-place grid penalty following a gearbox and inverter change.

One-lap pace has typically been an issue for the Porsche powertrain, yet halfway through the session the German manufacturer occupied the top three places.

Times tumbled in the closing minutes of the group though, as Günther despite his grid drop set a rapid 1:13.516 secs, the quickest lap of the group.

Astonishingly, he was joined in the top four by Wehrlein, Mortara and Bird, as reigning World Champion Dennis and Antonio Felix da Costa missed out, the latter by just 0.005 secs.

Quarter-Finals

Five different powertrains and seven different teams progressed to the duels, with the first quarter-final being last season’s winner Evans, against last season’s polesitter Vandoorne. On this occasion, Vandoorne was victorious.

The second duel was a lonely one, as Vergne received a BYE into the semi-finals. Müller’s car suffered damage at the end of the first group, as he struck the wall on the entry to Turn 4.

In the third quarter-final, Mortara took on Wehrlein. Making it into the duels was a staggering achievement for Mortara and Mahindra, although the duo were no match for Wehrlein and Porsche.

Hoping to meet Wehrlein in the semi-finals were Bird and Günther, with the latter qualifying simply for merit as a result of his grid penalty. Günther defeated Bird with ease after setting a competitive 1:12.881 secs.

Semi-Finals

Fighting for a place in the final in the opening semi-final duel were both DS Penske drivers, who went up against each other. Vergne had a woeful opening sector which was five-tenths slower than Vandoorne’s. The Belgian went onto set a staggering 1:12.566 secs to progress to the final.

Hoping to meet the Season 8 World Champion in the Final were Wehrlein and Günther, with the latter having his eyes set on the three points for pole position. However, it was Wehrlein who set the quicker time, with his 1:12.764 secs having been good enough for a place in the Final.

Final

The final duel in São Paulo was Vandoorne against Wehrlein, with the latter having been targeting his second pole position of 2024.

Wehrlein was narrowly quicker in the first sector, however Vandoorne set a rapid sector two. It all came down to the final sector, where the Porsche driver narrowly had the edge to secure a second pole of Season 10, courtesy of a 1:12.789 secs.

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