Sunday, May 19, 2024

Jakarta E-Prix: Maximilian Günther Storms to Back-to-Back Pole Positions

Maximilian Günther will be asking to never leave the Jakarta E-Prix, as the German claimed pole position for the second day in a row in Indonesia after once again defeating Jake Dennis in the Final of the duels. Elsewhere, there was further disappointment for championship leader Nick Cassidy, who will start from the fifth row just like he did on Saturday.

Group A

Twenty-four hours after round ten of the 2022/23 ABB FIA Formula E World Championship, it was time for qualifying for round eleven to get underway, with standings leader Cassidy knowing he needed to qualify higher than tenth like he did on Saturday. Joining the Kiwi in the opening group was Saturday’s second-place finisher Dennis, Jaguar TCS Racing duo Mitch Evans and Sam Bird, both NEOM McLaren Formula E Team drivers, both Nissan Formula E Team drivers, Dan Ticktum, Robin Frijns and rookie David Beckmann.

Following the opening push laps and Cassidy was doing exactly what he needed, as the Kiwi topped the group with four minutes remaining. Prior to the final push laps, the Envision Racing driver was joined in the top four by Dennis, rookie Sacha Fenestraz and Evans. Ticktum was clearly pushing, with the Briton having spun at the final corner having run onto the dust off the racing line.

As the final push laps got underway, improvements were being made by several drivers. Fenestraz and Norman Nato were the first to improve with both Nissan drivers having momentarily been in the top four; however, Nato was dumped out by McLaren’s Jake Hughes. Dennis shot to the top of the group whilst Evans snatched third, to demote championship leader Cassidy. It meant Cassidy was again set for a fifth row start, putting his status as the championship leader at real threat.

Into the duels: Dennis, Fenestraz, Evans and Hughes.

Group B

Based on the result from Saturday’s race in the Indonesian capital, Group B was set to be the more competitive of the two. The second group saw Saturday’s race winner Pascal Wehrlein joined by both DS Penske drivers, António Félix da Costa, Sébastian Buemi, both Maserati MSG Racing drivers, Lucas Di Grassi, Sérgio Sette Câmara, Nico Müller and Roberto Merhi.

Unsurprisingly, it was Günther who topped the group following the first couple of push laps, with the German having gone fastest in Free Practice 3 earlier in the day. Günther has remarkably topped every session so far this weekend in Jakarta other than Saturday’s race, where he claimed third. Maserati team-mate Edoardo Mortara, reigning World Champion Stoffel Vandoorne and Da Costa joined Günther in the top four prior to the final push laps. It all means Wehrlein and Jean-Éric Vergne had work to do.

Similar to Group A, improvements were being made across the board, with Günther and Mortara having extended their advantage at the front. The only driver able to improve enough to break into the top four was importantly, Wehrlein. The German dumped Da Costa out of the duel positions, with Vergne having also not done enough to claim a top four spot. The Frenchman will join Cassidy on the fifth row.

Into the duels: Günther, Mortara, Wehrlein and Vandoorne.

Above: NIO 333 Racing’s Sérgio Sette Câmara pushing for a spot in the duels – Credit: Andrew Ferraro courtesy of FIA Formula E

Quarter-Finals

Following the completion of the group-stage in Indonesia, it was time for the duels to commence once again, kicking-off with title contender Evans against rookie Fenestraz. As both drivers started their laps, it was Evans who held the advantage halfway round the lap by just over a tenth from the rookie. He extended this gap to over four-tenths come the end of the lap, promoting him into the Semi-Finals and securing him a vital top four start for the race.

Quarter-Final two saw Monaco polesitter Hughes against Dennis, with the latter having made the Final of the duels yesterday. Dennis’ pace was evident halfway round the lap with his advantage over Hughes having already been nearly four-tenths; however, he ended up going over six-tenths faster than the rookie to make the Semi-Finals again.

The third Quarter-Final put Wehrlein against Mortara, with the latter having been over a tenth faster in the first half of the lap. The Swiss driver was ultimately able to go two-tenths faster than the TAG Heuer Porsche Formula E Team driver, meaning Wehrlein wouldn’t join two of his title rivals on the front two rows. For Mortara, he secured himself a Semi-Final appearance and a top four start.

Vandoorne went against Günther in the final Quarter-Final in an attempt to meet Mortara in the Semi-Final; however, as expected, Günther was quicker through the first half of the lap. Vandoorne’s lap was actually very strong but it was three-tenths slower than Günther’s rapid pace, with the German having been the only driver in the Quarter-Finals to dip into the high 1:07.939. Günther’s brilliant lap ensured he met Mortara in the Semi-Finals.

Semi-Finals

Semi-Final one saw Dennis against championship rival Evans, who was already guaranteed a significantly better starting position than he had on Saturday. Dennis though, was hungry for back-to-back appearances in the Final. Halfway round the lap and it was Evans who held an advantage of just over a tenth of a second; however, he lost his advantage in the second half of the lap, to lose the duel by just 0.001s.

In the second Semi-Final it was Maserati against Maserati, as Mortara went against Günther. It was the latter who went nearly two-tenths quicker through the first half of the lap, with him having discovered a further tenth over his team-mate in the final sector. Mortara simply didn’t have the pace to defeat his team-mate’s 1:08.101, with Günther having set-up a replica of Saturday’s Final in a bid for back-to-back pole positions.

Final

For the second consecutive say, the qualifying Final in Jakarta saw Günther against Dennis, with the latter having been searching for his first pole position of the season. As well as that, the Avalanche Andretti Formula E driver was looking for revenge after losing to the German on Saturday. Günther though, was looking to become the first driver since Dennis at last season’s London E-Prix double-header, to claim pole twice at the same event.

Through the first half of the lap and Günther was on an unbelievable lap, with him having been over four-tenths quicker than the Briton. He set a sensational 1:07.753 to defeat Dennis by nearly six-tenths of a second, to claim pole position once again in Jakarta. The German also extended his record of having topped every timed session, other than the race, throughout the Jakarta double-header.

Despite his remarkable pole position, Dennis arguably enters the eleventh race of the season as the favourite for victory; however, Günther will be pushing to convert pole into victory after failing to do so yesterday. Günther’s pole also secured an additional three championship points. It looks set to be another thrilling race, with Wehrlein and Mortara starting on the second row, whilst Cassidy and Vergne will be fighting through the pack from row five.

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