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Formula E

Hughes stuns Vandoorne by one-thousandth to secure Formula E Shanghai pole

Jake Hughes defeated Stoffel Vandoorne to secure pole position for the second race of the Formula E Shanghai E-Prix double-header.

Hughes China
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Jake Hughes snatched pole position by a staggering 0.001s to defeat Stoffel Vandoorne in the final duel ahead of the second race of the Formula E Shanghai E-Prix double-header. 

The McLaren driver set a 1:13.921 to claim a fourth career Formula E pole and a second of the season, whilst the difference between himself and Vandoorne at the Shanghai International Circuit matched the record for the closest duel.

To make the final, Vandoorne defeated Nick Cassidy and Nyck de Vries in the duels, whilst Hughes had to navigate his way past Norman Nato and Antonio Felix da Costa. 

Behind the top two on the front row, Porsche's Da Costa will start from third with De Vries alongside him. 

It is an all-Jaguar third row with Cassidy and Mitch Evans, and Nato and Rowland in seventh and eighth on the grid.

Several big names failed to make the duels, including championship contenders Pascal Wehrlein, Jake Dennis and Saturday's polesitter Jean-Eric Vergne. Heavy rain is forecast for the race. 

Group stage

Group A got underway in the hottest conditions of the weekend, which caused the Hankook tyres to become too hot for many drivers. 

Title protagonists Cassidy, Rowland and Jake Dennis all featured in the opening group. Halfway through the first group and Vandoorne was provisionally fastest, with Maximilian Günther, Dennis and Rowland in the all-important duel places. 

Cassidy was in need of a big lap, having been last with a minute of the session remaining. Deliver the Jaguar driver did, as he safely jumped up to third on his final hot lap. 

Rowland topped the group ahead of Vandoorne and Cassidy, whilst it was Mahindra's Nyck de Vries who snatched the final spot in the top four. Dennis was eliminated in eighth, as only a minuscule 0.025s separated the top four.

The second group was a tough one call, as it featured Saturday's winner Evans, both Porsches and Vergne. After the first push laps, it was McLaren's Hughes on top, ahead of Evans, Da Costa and Sette Camara. Similarly to Evans in the first group, Wehrlein was last after his first hot lap.

There were several improvements in the closing seonds but Hughes remained as the quickest driver, with Da Costa securing second ahead of Evans. Nato pipped Vergne – he started on pole Saturday – to fourth, whilst Wehrlein was only seventh.

Quarter-Finals

The first quarter-final duel pitted championship leader Cassidy against Vandoorne. Cassidy had the advantage through the start of the lap but was slower than Vandoorne in the final sector. Vandoorne pipped Cassidy by just six thousandths of a second, courtesy of a strong 1:13.666.

Quarter-final number two was between Rowland and De Vries, with the Season 7 world champion having been the underdog. However, it was the Dutchman who progressed to the semi-finals after going almost two tenths quicker than Rowland.

Crucially, it was Jaguar versus Porsche in the third duel, as Evans battled Da Costa. Evans was just 0.002s faster in the first sector, although Da Costa was narrowly quicker in the second. It all came down to the final corners, where Da Costa again had the edge, enough to progress.

The final spot in the semi-finals was between Nato and Hughes, with Hughes having been almost two tenths faster in the first sector. Nato reduced his deficit in the second sector, but a solid final sector from Hughes was enough to see the McLaren driver go through.

Semi-Finals

Fighting first for a place in the final was De Vries and Vandoorne, in what was a duel between two world champions and former Mercedes-EQ team-mates. Vandoorne was quickest in the quarter-final duels. 

 The scorching air and track temperatures visibly had made the surface more slippery since the quarter-finals, with Vandoorne having gone two tenths slower in the semi-final against De Vries. However, his 1:13.854 was enough to defeat the Mahindra driver.

Duelling to meet Vandoorne in the final was Hughes and Da Costa, with the McLaren driver having been one-tenth quicker in the opening two sectors. 

Hughes maintained his advantage and set a 1:13.846, a lap time which was enough to make the final after being 0.134s quicker than Da Costa.

Final

The final represented another chance for Vandoorne to claim a first pole position of the season, having featured in the final duel three times prior to the second event in Shanghai. As for Hughes, he was on pole earlier in the season in Misano. 

Vandoorne had the edge through the first sector but Hughes posted an almighty second sector which was over a tenth faster than the DS Penske driver. 

However, Vandoorne found a lot of time in the final few corners but fell just 0.001s short of defeating Hughes' time. It marked the joint-closest final duel in the history of Formula E, with Hughes being awarded the three championship points for his fourth career pole.

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