Mercedes driver Stoffel Vandoorne charged to his third pole position in Formula E as he topped qualifying for the opening race at the Rome E-Prix.

The former McLaren Formula 1 driver turned in a brilliant lap as light rain fell in the Italian capital to claim his first pole in Formula E since the 2019-20 finale in Berlin.

Vandoorne’s benchmark time of a 1m38.484s saw him usurp provisional polesitter Lucas di Grassi to go four-tenths clear of the field, before Porsche’s Andre Lotterer secured second with a lap that was just over a tenth shy of Vandoorne’s effort.

Nissan’s Oliver Rowland looked on course to better Vandoorne’s lap and was up on the Belgian’s time heading into the final sector, but a hit with the wall at the last corner proved costly and meant he had to settle with third ahead of di Grassi.

Two-time Formula E champion Jean-Eric Vergne was fifth for Techeetah, ahead of BMW’s Max Gunther, who faced the worst of the rain as the first driver to set a lap time in Superpole.

Envision Virgin’s Robin Frijns was seventh-fastest as he missed out on a spot in Superpole, with current championship leader Nyck de Vries only eighth-fastest in his Mercedes.

A tenth further behind came Porsche driver Pascal Wehrlein, while Sebastien Buemi completed the top-10 for Nissan.

After winning the second race in Diriyah last time out, Sam Bird could only manage the 11th-best time ahead of Jaguar teammate Mitch Evans.

It was a nightmare qualifying for reigning Formula E champion Antonio Felix da Costa, who is set to start a lowly 18th on the grid for the opening race of the weekend in Rome after he ruined his lap by hitting the wall during Group 1.

Nick Cassidy was another driver who hit the wall before his Envision Virgin car stopped on track, meaning he will start 22nd, ahead of Venturi’s Edoardo Mortara who failed to set a time after an issue.

NIO 333 faces a race against time to get Oliver Turvey’s car ready in time for the Rome E-Prix after he was caught up in a nasty multi-car shunt at the end of first practice on Saturday morning.

The Briton will have to start the race from the pitlane if his car is fixed in time.

FULL QUALIFYING RESULTS FOR ROUND 3 OF THE 2021 FORMULA E SEASON AT THE ROME E-PRIX.

 

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