Rome E-Prix: Cassidy storms to maiden pole in wet qualifying

Formula E rookie Nick Cassidy scored a remarkable maiden pole position over fellow championship newcomer Norman Nato in a treacherous wet-weather shootout ahead of the second Rome E-Prix. 

Rome E-Prix: Cassidy storms to maiden pole in wet qualifying

Cassidy put the advantage of running in group four to good use to overcome the super slippery conditions as new patches of asphalt left the morning drizzle to sit on the track surface.  

The SUPER GT and Super Formula champion, who had set the pace in final practice, then progressed through the top-six superpole fight having just been pipped in the group times by fellow point-less racer Nato. 

Cassidy was the penultimate driver to run in the final dice, setting first and final sectors that could not be matched as he posted a m152.011s yardstick and claimed Envision Virgin Racing’s second pole position in three races by 0.332s. 

Nato emphatically delivered for the Venturi Racing squad as he converted his group four running order into a first-ever superpole appearance. 

Promoted from reserve driver to replace Felipe Massa in the team, Nato dropped a couple of tenths in the opening part of the track but set the best second sector of the day to claim a front-row start. 

That came at the expense of Porsche’s Pascal Wehrlein. The German looked odds on to top the session when he smashed to provisional pole by a massive 1.7s over Mercedes racer Stoffel Vandoorne. 

At the time of his run, Wehrlein found 1.3s over anyone else in the final sector before track conditions improved to suit Cassidy and Nato. 

Vandoorne attempted to tame his lively Mercedes and bagged fourth ahead of BMW Andretti driver Maximilian Gunther. 

Mahindra Racing’s Alexander Sims starred in group qualifying as he found 0.6s through the high-speed Turn 6 alone to put himself into superpole. However, too much aggression and oversteer cost him a second in sector one alone. 

Running over the slippery painted white lines and fractionally locking his brakes then meant he eventually fell 3.6s adrift of Cassidy. 

Edoardo Mortara was the first driver to miss out on a superpole appearance, missing the cut off by four tenths and citing a lack of grip through the 90-degree Turn 7 left-hander as a particular area of risk. 

The Venturi Racing driver set about undoing his “nightmare” Saturday, kicked off by a connector failure that ruled him out of qualifying, and delivered a strong seventh place ahead of Oliver Rowland and Nico Muller. 

Points leader Sam Bird, who finished second in the first race, dominated proceedings in the opening group bout to move some 1.49s clear with his initial 1m59.737s benchmark. 

That put the Jaguar Racing driver a full 2s clear of race winner Jean-Eric Vergne, who was off the pace throughout, and ahead of teammate Mitch Evans. 

But as the track conditions began to improve as more cars took to the circuit, Bird and Evans were shuffled from their early 1-2 standing down to an eventual 12th and 13th.  

Lucas di Grassi was another experienced name to struggle in the low-grip conditions as he qualified in 14th ahead of Tom Blomqvist and defending champion Antonio Felix da Costa. 

The DS Techeetah driver had delivered the goods in the first sector if washing a little wide through the high-speed sequence of corners but then dropped a hefty seventh tenths to provisional polesitter Bird in the final few turns. 

Sims’ teammate Alex Lynn will line up on the grid in 17th ahead of Oliver Turvey, the NIO 333 driver well short of running aboard his freshly build car after triggering a Saturday practice shunt that benched him for the day. 

Saudi Arabia race winner Nyck de Vries led a gaggle of high-profile wet-weather strugglers that included Robin Frijns, Rene Rast and Vergne – all hit by running in the unfavoured group on batch.  

Dragon Penske Autosport driver Sergio Sette Camara stopped on his flying lap with a technical failure while exiting the Turn 13 chicane. BMW Andretti rookie Jake Dennis did not take part in the session.  

Andre Lotterer had originally put himself comfortably into superpole but had his full-power lap deleted as he became the latest casualty of a reprimand for exceeding energy limits.  

Qualifying results:

 Cla   Nº   Driver   Car / Engine   Time   Delay 
37  Nick Cassidy Audi 1'52.011  
71  Norman Nato Mercedes 1'52.343 0.332
99  Pascal Wehrlein Porsche 1'52.630 0.619
Stoffel Vandoorne Mercedes 1'54.359 2.348
28  Max Guenther BMW 1'54.701 2.690
29  Alexander Sims Mahindra 1'55.598 3.587
48  Edoardo Mortara Mercedes 1'59.497 3.491
22  Oliver Rowland Nissan 1'59.512 3.506
Nico Müller Penske 1'59.630 3.624
10  23  Sébastien Buemi Nissan 1'59.701 3.695
11  10  Sam Bird Jaguar 1'59.739 3.733
12  20  Mitch Evans Jaguar 2'00.128 4.122
13  11  Lucas di Grassi Audi 2'00.150 4.144
14  88  Tom Blomqvist NIO 2'00.205 4.199
15  13  Antonio Felix da Costa DS 2'00.557 4.551
16  94  Alex Lynn Mahindra 2'00.943 4.937
17  Oliver Turvey NIO 2'01.197 5.191
18  17  Nyck de Vries Mercedes 2'01.229 5.223
19  Robin Frijns Audi 2'02.038 6.032
20  33  René Rast Audi 2'02.061 6.055
21  25  Jean-Éric Vergne DS 2'04.864 8.858
36  André Lotterer Porsche    
Sergio Sette Câmara Penske    
27  Jake Dennis BMW    
shares
comments

Related video

Rome E-Prix: Cassidy tops damp practice ahead of Gunther

Previous article

Rome E-Prix: Cassidy tops damp practice ahead of Gunther

Next article

Cassidy glad to "get the monkey off my back" with Rome pole

Cassidy glad to "get the monkey off my back" with Rome pole
Load comments

About this article

Series Formula E
Event Rome E-Prix II
Drivers Nick Cassidy
Author Matt Kew
How Formula E stood up to F1 comparisons in Monaco Prime

How Formula E stood up to F1 comparisons in Monaco

OPINION: It was no surprise to anybody that the laptimes achieved by Formula E cars on the full Monaco circuit were much slower than Formula 1. But perhaps the more relevant comparison was in the racing spectacle, where FE delivered in spades.

Formula E
May 12, 2021
How Monaco dealt Formula E a winning hand to cure its hangover Prime

How Monaco dealt Formula E a winning hand to cure its hangover

Formula E faced much criticism in the wake of its maligned Valencia event. In need of a turnaround, the series' first use of Monaco's iconic Formula 1 layout provided it with the injection of thrills required to clear the fog that had enveloped the paddock.

Formula E
May 11, 2021
Why Formula E's Valencia fiasco undermines engineering talent Prime

Why Formula E's Valencia fiasco undermines engineering talent

FIA president Jean Todt wanted more Formula E coverage in the media, and got his wish when the opening Valencia E-Prix proved farcical. Despite attempts to spin the race as teams failing to get their sums right, Formula E and its governing body cannot escape blame - especially when trying to get teams to commit long-term.

Formula E
Apr 27, 2021
How Valencia E-Prix farce gave Formula E an image problem Prime

How Valencia E-Prix farce gave Formula E an image problem

Formula E was under the microscope at Valencia, on its first visit to a permanent circuit. But after a mere nine drivers were left classified following Saturday's Valencia E-Prix, the electric championship once more faced criticism after rising energy deductions and miscalculations produced a farcical affair.

Formula E
Apr 25, 2021
How Vergne and Vandoorne found redemption in Rome Prime

How Vergne and Vandoorne found redemption in Rome

Another Formula E double-header, another double dose of frantic action. While the form guide remains unpredictable following fightback wins for Jean-Eric Vergne and Stoffel Vandoorne in Rome, the speed and consistency of Mercedes – both on and off the track – could have its rivals worried for what is to follow

Formula E
Apr 12, 2021
What Nissan's commitment to Gen3 reveals about Formula E's future Prime

What Nissan's commitment to Gen3 reveals about Formula E's future

Formula E's Gen3 era grid continues to take shape, after Nissan opted to commit to the series for another four years. Nissan's global chief operating officer explains why it has thrown its lot in with FE while other high-profile marques have decided to call it quits.

Formula E
Mar 24, 2021
Why the new Formula E season got off to such a controversial start Prime

Why the new Formula E season got off to such a controversial start

With the new Formula E season belatedly getting underway in Saudi Arabia, the championship appeared to try to make up for lost time with an overspill of action and controversy on and off the track. While some talking points could have serious repercussions, it was an explosive opener for many reasons.

Formula E
Mar 1, 2021
The eight major plotlines to watch in Formula E 2021 Prime

The eight major plotlines to watch in Formula E 2021

The delayed 2020-21 Formula E season gets underway this week with a double-header in Saudi Arabia. The testing times were too close to call a favourite, but that's not the only area of interest to follow as the championship enters a crucial year

Formula E
Feb 25, 2021