Buemi storms to pole position for Long Beach ePrix

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e.dams driver Sebastien Buemi will start today’s Long Beach ePrix from pole position after edging out Daniel Abt and teammate Nicolas Prost during qualifying on Saturday afternoon.

The Swiss driver posted a fastest lap time of 56.853 seconds in the fourth and final stage of qualifying, recovering from a red flag delay to beat Abt by just 0.084 seconds after the German driver also found time in the dying stages of Q4.

Championship leader Prost will start the race from third, having led the way from Q2 before being beaten by two of the five drivers in the final group. Nelson Piquet Jr. qualified fourth ahead of compatriot Lucas di Grassi and Andretti FE driver Jean-Eric Vergne.

Group One in qualifying saw Scott Speed, Charles Pic, Nick Heidfeld, Jaime Alguersuari and Jean-Eric Vergne all head out on track, with the latter setting the early pace in the ten minute session. The Frenchman found more time on his final lap to secure P1 from the first part of qualifying, and with Speed P2, it marked a strong start for Andretti FE on Saturday afternoon.

Keen to overhaul his compatriot at the top of the timesheets, Nicolas Prost was the first driver out of the traps in Group Two. The Frenchman could only go fourth with his first lap time, but managed to improve late in the session to take pole position by one-tenth of a second from Vergne. Despite posting some quick sectors, Sam Bird could only finish fourth ahead of Bruno Senna and Jarno Trulli, whilst Loic Duval propped up the timesheets following the second stage of qualifying.

Lucas di Grassi may have been the pace-setter during practice earlier in the day at Long Beach, but the Brazilian struggled with his first flying lap in qualifying, going ninth the start of Group Three’s run. He soon rallied to move up to second place behind Prost, only to be upstaged by Nelson Piquet Jr., who bumped his compatriot down a position despite being held up in traffic. Antonio Felix da Costa’s best lap gave him fifth place, with Stephane Sarrazin finishing seventh as Salvador Duran was left down in last place.

In the final qualifying group, e.dams driver Sebastien Buemi appeared to stand the best chance of denying Prost pole position, but it was Daniel Abt who was the first to seriously challenge for P1. The German driver looked poised for a front-row start, only for a slow final sector to leave him tenth with his first competitive time. When Buemi did begin to turn up the heat, his flying lap was hindered by a yellow flag shown for Vitantonio Liuzzi, who had parked up after hitting the wall. The session was then red flagged to allow Liuzzi’s car to be recovered, despite it appearing to be parked in a safe place next to a circuit ambulance.

The session resumed five minutes’ later with four minutes left on the clock, giving the Group Four drivers one final chance to vie for pole position. After taking a lap to warm up his tires, Buemi put the hammer down for his last flying lap, only to have the goalposts moved again when Daniel Abt went fastest for Audi ABT. The e.dams driver was unfazed, though, going eight-hundredths of a second quicker to secure his second pole position of the season at Long Beach.

However, the stewards confirmed in the immediate aftermath of the session that Buemi was under investigation for going too quickly under the yellow flag in Q4, with their decision still to be confirmed.

For the time being though, it is Buemi who will start today’s race from pole position after scintillating display during qualifying at Long Beach.

“Yeah really good,” Buemi said after the session. “Great for the team. We are first and third so it’s good.

“We just need to make sure that we finish the race and get as many points as possible. I’m quite happy after the last race which was difficult.”

The Long Beach ePrix starts at 4pm local time.