It may be a surprise for some but it is a well-deserved result for the NEOM McLaren Team, on his debut season in the ABB FIA Formula E World Championship: rookie Jake Hughes, contesting his first season in Formula Electric, will start on pole position for the second time this season, this Saturday at 3:03 pm local time. He earned that privilege at the 6th Monaco E-Prix at the end of a qualifying session that concluded with a stewarts decision: his rival in the final Duel, Frenchman Sacha Fenestraz (Nissan), used too much power in his last qualifying lap, so he will start next to Jake Hughes, but still on the front row of the grid, this Saturday afternoon.
Fenestraz, a Franco-Argentinian 23-year-old, first got through a very tough Group A, from which Stoffel Vandoorne and Jean-Eric Vergne, the two DS Penske drivers, were eliminated, as was the championship leader, Pascal Wehrlein (TAG Heuer Porsche). Group A was dominated by his Nissan teammate, Norman Nato, and the Top 4 was completed by Dan Ticktum (NIO333) and Mitch Evans (Jaguar TCS), the poleman last year.
Group B was also very intense, concluded with a Top 4 made of two Monaco-based Maserati drivers, Maximilian Günther and Edoardo Mortara, a NEOM McLaren driven by Jake Hughes, and Sergio Sette Camara in the other car entered by NIO333. The Duels could start and the quarter-finals looked exciting: Fenestraz dominated Ticktum, then Nato joined him in the semi-finals by beating Evans. In the other half of the board, Hughes beat one Maserati, Mortara‘s, and the other one, Günther‘s, lost on the track but then benefited from Sette Camara‘s time being wiped out.
Both Nissan drivers had to fight it out in the first semi-final and Fenestraz beat Nato in style: a record time of 1:28.773 for the Franco-Argentinian, the first driver to go under the 1:29 mark on Saturday, posting the new Circuit de Monaco record in an electric car. And achieving a second pole position this year after the one in Cape Town for Round 5, on the day he also posted the highest average speed (159.4 km/h), over one lap, in the history of Formula E.
Then Günther could do nothing in the other semi-final against Hughes, who set a time of 1:28.942. The final was won by Fenestraz, as Hughes made a small mistake when braking at the harbour chicane, losing a few precious tenths. Then Fenestraz lost the benefit of his performance, for having used too much power at that time, in excess of the 350 kW limit. He will console himself with a front row finish, next to Hughes on the first row, on Saturday at 15:03 CET. Keep watching…