Free Practice gets underway in China for Round 6 of the ABB FIA Formula E Championship. Through a couple of calmer sessions, it was both Nissan e.Dams cars who topped FP1 and FP2.
Things seemed rather calm to start with for Round 6 as we find ourselves in Sanya, China. We saw most teams hit the 11 turn street circuit at the session start and Oliver Rowland was the first to show his stuff by setting a 1.10:396, wanting to redeem himself after how his race finished in Round 5 in Hong Kong. Sam Bird decided to hit Attack Mode for a practice straight away with many other cars following his lead throughout the session which we don’t normally see in FP1. The session was very easy going and you could see that many of the drivers were happy with how their cars were performing but one person who seemed to be struggling was Jean Eric Vergne. Vergne was seen going off in different places on the track and it was discovered he had break issues but it seemed that those issues had been resolved quite quickly as he managed to finish in 7th place, only +0.458 behind P1.
Despite FP1 seeming very quiet and calm, there was a few near misses at the treacherous Turn 6. Pascal Wehrlein, Lucas DiGrassi and Robin Frijns made the choice to get too close for comfort at the wall of Turn 6 with Frijns scuffing one of his rear wheel arches but that did not add to any performance issues as he finished 6th at the end of the session. There was a couple near misses amongst teammates as well with both Nissan e.Dams drivers getting very close with Rowland having to apologise to his team for getting in the way of Sebastian Buemi who was out on a fast lap. Another duo who came into question was the Audi Sport ABT Shaeffler drivers of Daniel Abt and Di Grassi who came under investigation for overspeeding during the full course yellow flag but no penalties were given.
Times changed rapidly towards the end of FP1 when drivers decided to push to the limit with the fastest lap being set by Di Grassi, Abt, Bird, Buemi and Da Costa within the soace of 2 minutes but it was Rowland who took P1 in FP1 with a 1.07:561. Rowland showed his pace from the start as well as his determination to make the Sanya E-Prix a race he will not forget.
Moving onto FP2 and it seemed that all teams were very eager to back out onto the track with most of them out in the first few minutes of the session. The Attack Mode activation zone gives no room for error in the Sanya Street Circuit which is what Bird found out as he tried to do a practice run but missed the points despite seeming to take the correct line. Bird continued to do well in the session but the championship leader could only finish 11th. A few other drivers who found it tricky during FP2 was Wehrlein, Gary Paffett and Buemi who all had a bash with a wall. Wehrlein and Paffett both hit their left rear wheel on the wall at the exit of Turn 6 in near identical incidents and Buemi went nose first into the wall at Turn 3. Luckily for Buemi, after his nose change, he managed to put his car quickest with a 1.07:288 showing again how the Nissan team mean business this weekend after recent bad luck in previous races.
Stay tuned for more news of Qualifying and the Sanya E-Prix from Overtake Motorsport.
Feature Image Credit: ABB FIA Formula E Website