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Formula E driver qualifies on pole SIDEWAYS

Former F1 driver Jean-Eric Vergne spins on the timing line, still nails it

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Who says Formula E doesn’t do spectacle? The fourth series of the electric racing championship – yes, fourth – kicks off this weekend on the streets of Hong Kong. And in the first qualifying session of the season, former F1 driver Jean-Eric Vergne qualified on pole.

SIDEWAYS.

Yes folks. Though Formula E lacks the noise and sheer outright speed of other motorsport series, what it offers up in spades is jeopardy and a sprinkling of drama. The races are run on narrow street circuits with concrete walls. No run off. No chance for a mistake.

So heading into the final part of qualifying, Vergne had it all to do to beat Virgin Racing’s Sam Bird who had topped the previous session.

It was looking good, the Frenchman posting fastest sectors right up until… he spun at the very end. Quite spectacularly. Gasps around the circuit. Then applause as it dawned that he’d spun on the timing line, thus keeping his time of 1m 3.568s intact.

It means he starts the first Saturday race at the front, ahead of Sam Bird, Nick Heidfeld - a man quite handy on narrow, twisty and dangerous tracks - Audi’s Daniel Abt and Felix Rosenqvist. Reigning champion Lucas di Grassi – he took the season three drivers’ title – could only manage sixth.

Click here to watch JEV’s spin via Formula E’s Twitter feed, and then let us know where this ranks in the overall scheme of nutjob qualifying stunts…

UPDATE: Vergne would later finish second in the inaugural race of season four, in front of Nick Heidfeld though behind a triumphant Sam Bird from Virgin Racing, who took the win. Yet, that only really tells half the story: the race was red flagged at one point, there were bumps and spins up and down the grid, the two former champions (Buemi and di Grassi) had a coming together and finished way down the order, and during the mid-race car swap, Bird missed his entry and slammed into the tent (he later got a drive through, but still came out ahead of everyone else).

Like we asked earlier: who said Formula E doesn’t do spectacle?

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