FP1 provided a wet welcome to Formula E, but it didn’t dampen the action. From the commencement of the session, the rain was playing havoc with the cars on track, with Andre Lotterer topping the session ahead of the Nissan e.dams duo of Sebastien Buemi and Oliver Rowland.
The condition of the damp track was evident at the very start of the session as on the out-lap Lucas di Grassi found himself in the wall following loss of control down the straight, sustaining an impressive amount of damage to the front of the car. He manages to make his way back to the pitlane.
Drivers continue to experience high-stress moments as Jean-Eric Vergne makes use of an escape route as Sam Bird and Buemi experience a moment, ending in both cars spinning. After an inevitable investigation, Buemi was handed a reprimand as it’s found that the incident occurred following a lock-up from him.
With just over 30 minutes remaining of the session, Robin Frijns caused a red flag after coming into the turn off-line and hitting the barrier picking up some damage to the suspension of the Virgin. Before Frijns removed his car, he was joined in the barrier by Buemi who swiftly pulled out of the barrier and continued on his way.
Frijns managed to bring his car out of the barrier and began his journey back to the pitlane, expressing concerns that he’ll be unable to make the hair-pin at pit entry after experiencing steering issues. It turned out to not be an issue for the Dutchman, who successfully maneuvered his Envision Virgin Racing machine back to his garage.
Teams used the time to make the repairs that they could before the track went green again. Vergne’s team seemed to be concentrating on the rear of his car as it became evident he picked up some damage prior to the red flag.
It was revealed in the replays that Vergne lost it, spinning his car to take another trip down an escape route. However, as the track was still damp, Vergne’s car showed little signs of stopping as it approaches the barrier. Luckily, with just metres left before the barrier, Vergne managed to stop the car in its tracks.
The session soon went green and the cars made their way back on to the track with around 20 minutes of FP1 remaining.
Just minutes later it was clear that the track hadn’t dried entirely as Sam Bird experienced a close call with the barrier. Incidents continued to take place with Tom Dillmann also having a moment.
Drivers begin to challenge for P1 with Andre Lotterer stealing the fastest lap with a time of 1.12.014s who goes on to improve his time as Oliver Rowland and Bird also improve their times to make up the top three. Times continue to change as the track begins to dry but the Techeetah remains at the top of the timing sheets.
The session is far from over yet, as Panasonic Jaguar Racing’s Mitch Evans caused yellow flags after visiting an escape road, managing to get away with no damage.
Just minutes from the end of FP1, we saw more red flags as Bird found himself in the wall in the same place as his teammate Frijns did earlier on in the session.
With 3:13s of the session remaining, it is announced that the session would not be restarted. Lotterer and his DS Techeetah end on top with a time of 1.10.667s ahead of Buemi and Rowland, while the HWA Racelab of Gary Paffett had a strong showing with the fourth fastest time.
After his eventful morning, Bird ended fifth fastest while home heroes Vergne and Dillmann both finished in the top ten.