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Formula E

Vergne matches record to secure Shanghai Formula E pole

Jean-Eric Vergne defeated Oliver Rowland to claim pole position for the opening race of the Shanghai E-Prix double-header.

Vergne Shanghai
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Jean-Eric Vergne secured pole position for the opening race of the Shanghai E-Prix double-header after defeating Oliver Rowland by 0.038s in the final. In claiming pole, Vergne equalled Sebastian Buemi's record for 16 Formula E poles. 

The DS Penske driver saved the best till last and posted the quickest lap of qualifying in the final, to deny Rowland three championship points. 

To progress to the final, Rowland defeated the driver he replaced – Norman Nato – in the quarter-finals, before defeating Mitch Evans in the semi-finals. As for Vergne, he overcome Antonio Felix da Costa in the quarter-final and Pascal Wehrlein in the semi-finals. 

Evans will start from third with Wehrlein alongside him, whilst Evans, Da Costa, Nato and Stoffel Vandoorne complete the top-eight.

With two of the most extreme peloton races in Formula E history forecast for both races this weekend, starting position is not vital. Nevertheless, the three points for pole could be crucial. 

Championship leader Nick Cassidy and reigning world champion Jake Dennis were both eliminated in the group stage and will start in the midfield. 

Group stage

As the group stage got underway, the temperature both in the air and on the surface was starting to soar. The first group featured championship leader Cassidy and his team-mate Mitch Evans, who topped first practice. Another title contender, Rowland, also featured.

Halfway through the session and it was Vandoorne at the top, ahead of Evans, Cassidy and Rowland. Vandoorne's 1:14.242 remained as the quickest lap of the group at the end, with Rowland having improved to second. 

It was change for third, as second practice's fastest driver Nato progressed to the duels, ahead of Evans in fourth. Cassidy was bumped to fifth and missed the top four cut, despite being only 0.074s slower than Vandoorne. 

The second group included reigning world champion Dennis and title rival Wehrlein, as well as Vergne who was joint-fastest in second practice. 

Vergne was fastest following the opening hot laps, ahead of McLaren's Hughes and both factory Porsche drivers. With four minutes remaining, Dennis was only in seventh. 

Several drivers improved on their final hot lap but the same four drivers remained in the top four, although Hughes did pip Vergne to top spot on a 1:14.140. Vergne took second ahead of Da Costa and Wehrlein, whilst Dennis was eliminated in sixth.

Quarter-Finals

The first duel of the weekend pitted Rowland against Nato, the latter perhaps being the favourite after shining in second practice. However, it was Rowland who pipped Nato by six hundredths of a second.

Evans then went up against Vandoorne who topped the first group; however, the DS Penske driver made a crucial mistake on his duel lap. Evans' 1.13.565 was three tenths quicker than Vandoorne's time.

DS Penske's hopes were then solely on Vergne against Da Costa. The two-time Formula E champion was comfortably up prior to a huge snap at Turn 8. In the end, the Frenchman was only 0.006s faster than Da Costa.

The final duel of the quarter-finals was between Wehrlein and Hughes. It was another close affair which saw the two quickest laps of this stage, although Wehrlein edged Hughes by 0.034s courtesy of a 1:13.449. hug, dac, nat, van

Semi-Finals

Into the semi-final stage of the duels and the opening battle was between Evans and Rowland. Rowland had a one-tenth of a second advantage in the first sector but Evans started to claw his deficit back in the final two sectors.

Staggeringly, Evans' lap was just one-thousandth of a second slower than Rowland's impressive 1:13.358, which saw the Nissan driver progress to the final.

Targeting to meet Rowland in the first final of the weekend were Vergne and Wehrlein. It was Wehrlein with a one-tenth advantage through the first sector, with his Porsche having looked very well-balanced.

However, a pivotal mistake by Wehrlein in the final sector cost him a place in the final, as he lost two tenths of a second and ended up being 0.153s slower than Vergne.

Final

The final offered Rowland a huge chance to close in on Cassidy in the championship, whilst it also offered title outsider Vergne an opportunity to get slightly more into contention.

Through the first sector and Rowland was almost one-tenths slower than Vergne, with the DS Penske having been hooked up through the long opening corners. 

However, Rowland was narrowly quicker in the final two sectors, although the damage was done in the opening corners. The Nissan driver was 0.038s slower than Vergne, who set a very strong 1:13.322. 

Vergne's lap in the final was the quickest of the session, with the Frenchman being awarded three points for securing pole.

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