Formula E

Free Practice does not always make perfect

Formula E has already taken us on a ‘bumpy’ ride during Free Practice 1 and 2 in Santiago de Chile for Round 3. With teams making many mistakes, who got it wrong? And who was top notch?

We find ourselves in Santiago de Chile for Round 3 of Formula E in Season 5 and things are just starting to get interesting. With the Santiago street circuit sitting next to Fantasilandia Theme Park, host to many adrenaline filled rides, this seemed the perfect setting for Formula E to slot itself in. The circuit has 14 turns with a tight chicane, long hairpins and multiple twists along the way which seemed to catch many drivers out in Free Practice 1. 

FP1 began at 8am CLST (11am GMT) and seemed to have a ‘bumpy’ start. Many of the drivers had been complaining of vibrations as you could see the cars literally bounce out of the pits onto the track. Unfortunately, Maximillian Gunther’s Formula E season continued to go from bad to worse as his car decided to stop twice on track causing two yellow flags within the first five minutes of the practice. Shortly after, a FCY (Full Course Yellow) was called by Race Director, Scot Elkins, where the cars are made to slow down to 50KMH (Kilometers per Hour). Once the FCY was lifted, we saw Gunther chugging back to the pits so that his team could try and asses the issue, but, unbeknown to the Geox Dragon Team, they were about to have a saving grace.

At 32 minutes remaining of FP1, a Red Flag was announced as Sebastian Buemi locked up heavily coming up to turn 6 which caused him to hit the wall and bounce over the curb, and as he continued to keep his foot on the break, there was nothing he could do but find the wall of turn 7 as well. This then ended Buemi’s track time in FP1 as they then had to recover the car to see if they were able to fix it for the other upcoming sessions. After FP1 had finished, Pit Lane Reporter, Nicki Shields spoke to Michael Carcamo to find out what happened. “Busy morning, but most importantly Seb is ok. Unfortunately, the car has just returned now after the red flag – clearly we had some kind of problem but it looks like a big repair and potentially missing FP2, the Nissan e.dams Motorsport director explained. 

FP1 got going again with 26 minutes remaining and you could already see the drivers were trying to be careful at the restart so that nothing else would interrupt the session. The careful driving did not last long as we then saw fighting spirit from many of the cars, with the top spot of FP1 changing rapidly, but it was Lucas DiGrassi who gave us the fastest time of a 1.08:630 using his full power mode of 250kw and managed to get his car from 17th place up to 1st on the last lap. It was a spectacular lap and we would then have to see if anything was to change dramactically in Free Practice 2. 

FP2 began at 10am CLST (1pm GMT) and as we saw the drivers heading out onto the track, with normal proceedings being both cars of the same team driving out together, you noticed a lonely Oliver Rowland which could have only meant that Buemi would not be joining him, but miracles do happen and shortly after, we saw Buemi being released from the team garage, meaning the engineers had fixed the damage from FP1. Going from good luck to bad luck within the first 5 minutes of FP2, Felipe Massa seemed to have an issue as he went off at the run off area of turn 12. Massa was straight on the radio to explain the issue to his team, “for whatever reason, I cannot feel the breaks,” Massa stated as he struggled at the turn.

Envision Virgin Racing had a phenomenal weekend in Marrakesh and it seemed that both Robin Frijns and Sam Bird are hoping their luck continues as they were putting in great performances in both FP1 and FP2. Bird was the first to set a fastest time of 1.13:364 in FP1 but as you can imagine, that changed several times during the course of the practice. Frijns then put in a fantastic 1.09:059 with 7 minutes remaining, only to be pipped by Bird, who put in a 1.08:988, one minute later. This put them third and fourth in FP1. In FP2, Bird finished fourth, whilst Frijns finished second with a 1.08:266 – quicker than DiGrassi from FP1.

Despite Envision trying their absolute hardest, it was Jose Maria Lopez from Geox Dragon team who was top of FP2 with an amazing time of 1.08:194 and he managed to set this with 3 minutes remaining. Continue to follow all the coverage from Overtake Motorsport from Qualifying, Super Pole and the E-Prix later today.

Feature Image Credit: ABB FIA Formula E Website

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