Qualifying is a part of the Formula E day, in which drivers attempt to set the fastest lap they can achieve in order to determine their grid position in the following ePrix. The fastest driver starts from pole position and also receives three championship points for their efforts.
The first Formula E qualifying session was held at the 2014 Beijing ePrix on the 13th of September 2014. Pole position went to Nicolas Prost of e. dams-Renault, whose time of 1:42.200s was enough to beat the rest of the field. He, team mate Sébastien Buemi and Jean-Eric Vergne were the only three drivers to set pole position times in the first five ePrix, before Daniel Abt became the first non-French speaking driver to take pole, doing so at the 2015 Long Beach ePrix. Buemi, meanwhile, was the first driver to win an ePrix from pole position, achieving the feat at the 2015 Monaco ePrix, an achievement as yet unequalled. He would repeat the feat in London at the season finale, with Vergne the other driver to take a third pole position in the season.
The original format of five cars in one of four groups (with each group given a ten minute window to set two quick times) was retained for season two, albeit with a few tweaks. Each group would now only have a six minute window to set their fastest time (enough for just one flying lap), with the fastest five overall going through to the "Super Pole" session. The fifteen minute "Super Pole" session sees the top five cars go out one at a time to set a lap good enough for pole.
After six seasons of the Super Pole format, the FIA and Formula E agreed to use a new format for the 2021/22 Formula E World Championship, in a bid to counter accusations that the former format was unfair and had caused too much turbulence to the Championship. The new format, which was nearly identical to one used by the defunct Superleague Formula series, was to be trialled at the 2021 Valencia Test, and would see eight drivers complete duels against each other after an initial group stage.
The qualifying session is held after the two practice sessions at around midday on each Formula E day, and sees the field run in groups to reduce the number of cars on the circuit to ensure that there is less chance of a driver being hampered by a rival.
Knockout Knowledge: 2021 -
From the 2021/22 season FE would use a knockout style format, beginning with a group stage to start the session, based on Championship position. Those positioned in odd numbered positions (ie 1st, 3rd, 5th etc.) would be placed in Group A, while those in even positions (2nd, 4th, 6th etc.) were to run in Group B. Each group then had a ten minute window within which the drivers could set any number of laps in race mode (220 kW for 2021/22), with their fastest time come the end of the session going onto the overall timesheet.
Once the group stage was completed the fastest eight drivers would progress to the knockout round, run at the maximum power of 250 kW, with the fastest driver from Group A (dubbed A1) would set a new time against the fourth fastest driver from Group B (B4). Second from Group A (A2) would then race third from Group B (B3), third from Group A (A3) against second from Group B (B2) and finally the fastest from Group B (B1) run against fourth from Group A (A4). The winner of each duel would then progress to the semi-final, with the winner of A1-v-B4 running against A2-v-B3, while A3-v-B2's victor would battle against A4-v-B1's winner.
The winning drivers from the semi-finals would then appear in the final, with the fastest driver from that duel claiming pole, while the defeated driver would line-up in second. The fastest loser from the semi finals would then claim third ahead of the slower driver, with the fastest loser from the quarter finals then claiming fifth, while those who failed to get into the knockout session would have their grid positions set by their times from the Group stage. Any penalties that would then affect the grid would be applied after the final of the Knockout stage had been completed.
Super Pole: 2015 - 2021
From the start of the 2015/16 season qualifying used a format dubbed "Super Pole" qualifying, which saw the field split into four groups of five to six cars, initially based on a random draw. Each group would have six minutes on track to set a single full power/quali mode lap, with the the times from all four groups posted on the overall timesheet. The fastest five overall would then proceed to the Super Pole shootout, where each driver would get to set an additional lap at full power, on an empty circuit, to try and claim pole position.
The Super Pole shootout would start with the slowest of the top quintet leave the pits first, with their out-lap all they had to get their tyres up to pressure and temperature to prepare for their flying lap. The driver would then have one full power run to try and set a time, with the next driver released from the pitlane after the previous driver had started their flying lap. Once all five drivers had run in Super Pole the grid would be unveiled, with any penalties that would affect the grid coming into force once the shootout had been completed.
From 2018/19 onward the rules regarding the groups and Super Pole were changed to incorporate the increased number of cars. The groups were to be set based on Championship position, with two groups of five and two of six, designed to keep those in title contention together throughout the season. Furthermore, the number of drivers allowed to compete in Super Pole was increased to six, although all other rules remained unchanged. The size of each group was expanded to six to accommodate additional entries in the 2020/21 season.
In a qualifying session, a driver is limited to a single car, which cannot be charged during the session. The car may run at the full power of 220 kw (c. 295 bhp) during the group stage, with drivers allowed to set any number of laps during that stage as of the 2021/22 season. Power is set at 250 kW (c. 335 bhp) for the Knockout stage (previously 200 kW in 2014/15 - 2017/18), with drivers only getting one lap per duel to set a time. Penalties such as driving infringements that affect the order of the grid (such as demotions) are applied after qualifying.
For 2018/19 the maximum power use allowed in qualifying was increased to 250 kW (335 bhp) due to the introduction of the new Spark SRT05e and revamped powertrain rules. From 2019/20 the fastest driver from the group stage was awarded an additional bonus point.
So far, 24 different drivers have started from pole, with only ten ePrix won by the driver starting with a clear track ahead. Sébastien Buemi would be the first man to set pole position, fastest lap and claim victory during the same weekend, doing so at the 2015 Beijing ePrix en-route to the 2015/16 crown. In contrast, several drivers have failed to score any points in the ePrix itself, while most have failed to claim the fastest lap of the ePrix, despite being the fastest driver over a single lap.
The list below shows all of the drivers whom have taken pole position in Formula E history.
|ePrix Pole Sitters*|
|Sébastien Buemi||14||First driver to win an ePrix from pole position|
|Jean-Éric Vergne||12||Claimed first pole position on debut.|
|António Félix da Costa||6||2019/20 Champion.|
|Nicolas Prost||3||First driver to take pole position.|
|Lucas di Grassi||3||2015/16 Champion.|
|Alex Lynn||2||Claimed first pole position on debut.|
|Nelson Piquet Jr.||1|
|Nyck de Vries||1||2020/21 Champion.|
- * Correct as of the 2021 Berlin E-Prix II.
- Bold Indicates a driver who is competing in the 2021/22 Formula E World Championship.
Videos and Images:
- 'Rules & Regulations: Qualifying', fiaformulae.com, (FIA Formula E, 2015), http://www.fiaformulae.com/en/guide/rules-and-regs.aspx, (Accessed 19/07/2015)
- 'Nicolas Prost claims pole position for the Beijing ePrix', fiaformulae.com, (FIA Formula E, 13/09/2014), http://www.fiaformulae.com/en/news/2014/september/nicolas-prost-claims-pole-position-for-the-formula-e-beijing-eprix.aspx, (Accessed 30/04/2015)
- 'Buemi’s stroll in the park', fiaformulae.com, (FIA Formula E, 27/06/2015), http://fiaformulae.com/en/news/2015/june/buemi-wins-as-edams-renault-clinch-team-title.aspx, (Accessed 30/06/2015)
- 'Formula E launches Super Pole shoot-out', fiaformulae.com, (FIA Formula E, 18/09/2015), http://www.fiaformulae.com/en/news/2015/september/formula-e-launches-super-pole-shoot-out.aspx, (Accessed 09/10/2015)
- 'Updated calendar, faster racing and knockout qualifying for Season 8', fiaformulae.com, (FIA Formula E, 15/10/2021), https://www.fiaformulae.com/en/news/2021/october/season-8-sporting-update, (Accessed 16/10/2021)
- Sam Smith, 'Qualifying Lottery System Scrapped', e-racing365.com, (John Dagys Media, LLC., 03/07/2018), https://e-racing365.com/formula-e/qualifying-lottery-system-scrapped/, (Accessed 04/07/2018)
- 'Next generation Formula E Car breaks cover in Geneva', fiaformulae.com, (FIA Formula E, 06/03/2018), http://www.fiaformulae.com/en/news/2018/march/next-generation-formula-e-car-breaks-cover-in-geneva/, (Accessed 06/03/2018)
- 'Buemi to the max in Beijing', fiaformulae.com, (FIA Formula E, 24/10/2015), http://fiaformulae.com/en/news/2015/october/buemi-wins-swusp-beijing-eprix.aspx, (Accessed 25/10/2015)
|Formula E Race day|
|Practice • Qualifying • E-Prix|
|Regulations • FanBoost • Attack Mode • Safety Car • Flag System|
|Roborace • Jaguar I-Pace eTrophy • eVillage|