Today, Formula E celebrates the 50th E-Prix and mother nature decided she would join the party and shake things up. With rain mixing up both free practice sessions, who went quickest in the wet?
Things started off very differently in Hong Kong with the rain causing quite a stir for FP1. Before the cars took to the 1.860 km track, there was a traffic jam as all teams tried to descend out of the pit lane and make their way onto the street circuit to see what they could do in these unfavourable conditions. You could immediately see a bunch of cars struggling with wheel spins in the standing water but luckily for the drivers, this year the Gen2 cars act as a huge diffuser thanks to the underneath of the car. We would have to see whether teams were going to take it easy or push the car during the wet weather.
Within the first five minutes of FP1, we saw the fastest lap drop by four seconds from 1.16:150 by Jean Eric Vergne to a 1.12:072 by Robin Frijns. With a heavy down pour taking place just before the first practice session, things were bound to change dramatically as drivers try to cope with the different conditions. Many drivers were seen to be fighting for grip including Andre Lotterer, Daniel Abt, Jose Maria Lopez, Gary Paffett and Vergne but fortunately, all of them managed to keep their cool and they placed in the top ten at the end of the session. One driver who was not so lucky was Sam Bird, who had a knock and hit the wall, causing a trail of debris to fall on the track. Bird also went off in the run off area at turn two a couple of times and finished 12th, six places behind his teammate.
Nearly every car decided to try a full power run as the session began ticking down to its close and we saw the laps drop even further with Lotterer topping the pack five times, his best time being a 1.09:653 with 1 minute remaining but it was Oliver Rowland of Nissan E.Dams who gave the best time of a 1.09:283 as he crossed the finish line. Luckily for Rowland, he was able to clinch this lap time before the session was given a yellow flag with less than 30 seconds remaining. The yellow flag was caused by Paffett who stopped at turn five so we will have to see whether HWA are able to score their first points of the season later on today.
We then move onto FP2 and the hope was that the track would have dried and conditions would return to normal but rain continued to plague practice and drivers still found it tricky to control their cars. Eduardo Mortara had a sad start when his car stopped within the first two minutes of the second session and caused a yellow flag but he managed to get going again and ended up finishing 4th with a 1.09:523.
Much like FP1, the order of the drivers changed every few minutes as teams tried to get the most out of their car in these tricky conditions. Pascal Wehrlein managed a couple top spots which were unfortunately taken away from him and we saw him struggle with grip at the rear of his car, causing him to slide around in the standing water. During the race, Mahindra Team Principal, Dilbagh Gil, was asked how much run time the drivers had had in these sort of wet weather conditions, to which he answered “Honestly, not enough” with a rather nervous laugh. Werhlein has been doing extremely well in recent rounds but could only manage 20th in both practice sessions.
Other drivers to struggle in FP2 were Vergne and Paffett who were extremely close to putting their cars in the wall but showed their skills and brought the cars to the end of the session in one piece. Vergne finished 7th and Paffett finished in 9th position with his HWA teammate, Stoffel Vandoorne finishing in 11th. It looked as it Rowland was going to dominate the practice sessions with him finishing FP2 with a 1.09:478 but he was pipped at the last minute by Envision Virgin Racing driver, Frijns, who put in a solid 1.09:221.
Continue to check back with Overtake Motorsport for Formula E Qualifying, Super Pole and the 50th E-Prix.
Feature Image Credit: Envision Virgin Racing Team Twitter Page