Audi's Muller sets lap record in Formula E rookie test
Audi driver Nico Muller set a new Formula E lap record around the Marrakesh circuit as he topped the rookie test by almost a second.
Muller concentrated on long runs in the morning, but was first out of the blocks on a full-power lap in the afternoon to immediately best Paul di Resta’s morning benchmark.
He was knocked back to fifth as several drivers improved, with Maximilian Gunther, James Rossiter and Pietro Fittipaldi all heading the times at one stage.
However, Muller pumped in a 1m19.651s with just over five minutes remaining to go 0.946s clear of Jaguar’s Fittipaldi.
That laptime beat the previous lap record, set by the regular driver of Muller’s e-tron FE04 Daniel Abt in second practice on Saturday, by just over a tenth and would also have been good enough to head qualifying by half a second.
However, air and track temperatures were slightly higher on Sunday and previous FE events, with running on both days suggesting track evolution to be worth 0.5-1s.
Fittipaldi’s best was another late effort, coming in the final 15 minutes, and at the time it bumped Techeetah driver James Rossiter to third.
The Briton was then shuffled back to fifth as Maximilian Gunther (Dragon Racing) and di Resta improved in the closing stages.
Daniel Juncadella was sixth-fastest for Mahindra, 0.002s faster than Ferrari Formula 1 protege Antonio Giovinazzi, who was the top DS Virgin Racing driver.
His teammate for the test, new BMW DTM signing Joel Eriksson, was not even a tenth slower in ninth.
Dragon’s Andrea Caldarelli bounced back from a morning crash to slot into the narrow gap between the DS Virgin drivers, while Nyck de Vries managed enough running to complete the top 10.
De Vries spent almost the entire morning waiting in the garage and had to be patient at the start of the afternoon as well, as Audi evaluated problems on both his cars.
The 2018 Prema Formula 2 racer was driving di Grassi’s Audis, both of which had problems on Saturday and were being subjected to evaluations by the team before committing to the test programme.
De Vries only managed two laps in the morning and 15 in the afternoon, but posted a 1m21.108s and was 1.4s slower than Muller.
Nissan’s Japanese Formula 3 champion Mitsunori Takaboshi (Renault e.dams), Venturi development driver Michael Benyahia and Bruno Spengler (Andretti) all caused stoppages in the afternoon.
That meant Benyahia propped up the timesheets for the day overall, although Spengler’s and Takaboshi’s respective morning efforts were enough to get them above NIO’s Harry Tincknell, who focused on race runs throughout the day.
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