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Diriyah E-Prix: De Vries tops first practice from Lotterer

Mercedes driver Nyck de Vries was comfortably fastest in the first practice session of the new 2021 Formula E season as Andre Lotterer guided Porsche to second. 

Nyck de Vries, Mercedes Benz EQ, EQ Silver Arrow 02

Photo by: Alastair Staley / Motorsport Images

Both German manufacturers scored maiden podiums on their championship debut in the Diriyah E-Prix last season and set the pace in the first official FE night-time running on Thursday. 

A late effort with the maximum 250kW power sent de Vries straight to the top of the order on a 1m08.693s, the only driver to drop below the 1m09 threshold. 

He ended the 45-minute session some 0.588s clear of Porsche’s Andre Lotterer as modifications to the Riyadh Street Circuit layout, a resurfacing and the cooler temperatures paved the way for easily the fastest-ever times recorded at the track. 

Lucas di Grassi gave Audi’s first in-house powertrain a strong start to life as he ended the Thursday evening session in third place, while Edoardo Mortara guided the Mercedes customer car of Venturi Racing to an impressive fourth. 

The Nissan e.dams fight was led by Oliver Rowland in fifth, although 18th-placed teammate Sebastien Buemi appeared to struggle under braking for the Turn 18 and 19 chicane.

The 2015-16 champion twice hit the bumps in the braking zone to lose the rear of the car and then lock the front tyres. 

Early pacesetter Alex Lynn took the Mahindra Racing team to sixth as it debuts a new powertrain built by transmission specialist ZF, while a late flurry of 250kW runs knocked Jaguar Racing’s Mitch Evans from second to an eventual seventh. 

Reigning champion Antonio Felix da Costa led the DS Techeetah charge for eighth, although he too appeared to struggle to slow his car and twice had to take to the run-off on the exit of Turn 1 - with the team’s bespoke brake-by-wire set-up having been a particular area of focus throughout last season. 

Envision Virgin Racing incumbent Robin Frijns ran to ninth, while BMW Andretti driver and pre-season testing pacesetter Maximilian Guenther completed the top 10. 

Tom Blomqvist’s run to 13th marked a strong initial return for NIO 333 after a point-less 2019-20 campaign, while Jean-Eric Vergne peaked at 15th.  

Porsche debutant Pascal Wehrlein, set to enter his first race in a year after being dropped by Mahindra for Berlin, ran to 17th. 

Jaguar’s new signing Sam Bird was 20th fastest as the three rookies rounded out the order: Norman Nato pipping Nick Cassidy and Jake Dennis.  

FP1 results:

Cla Driver Team Time Gap
1 Netherlands Nyck de Vries Mercedes-EQ Formula E Team 1'08.693  
2 Germany Andre Lotterer Germany Porsche Team 1'09.281 0.588
3 Brazil Lucas di Grassi Germany Team Abt 1'09.327 0.634
4 Switzerland Edoardo Mortara Monaco Venturi 1'09.392 0.699
5 United Kingdom Oliver Rowland France DAMS 1'09.419 0.726
6 United Kingdom Alex Lynn India Mahindra Racing 1'09.489 0.796
7 New Zealand Mitch Evans Jaguar Racing 1'09.492 0.799
8 Portugal Antonio Felix da Costa China Techeetah 1'09.503 0.810
9 Netherlands Robin Frijns United Kingdom Virgin Racing 1'09.552 0.859
10 Germany Maximilian Gunther United States Andretti Autosport 1'09.614 0.921
11 United Kingdom Alexander Sims India Mahindra Racing 1'09.703 1.010
12 Belgium Stoffel Vandoorne Mercedes-EQ Formula E Team 1'09.726 1.033
13 United Kingdom Tom Blomqvist United Kingdom NIO Formula E Team 1'09.764 1.071
14 Germany René Rast Germany Team Abt 1'09.779 1.086
15 France Jean-Eric Vergne China Techeetah 1'09.799 1.106
16 Switzerland Nico Müller DRAGON / PENSKE AUTOSPORT 1'09.897 1.204
17 Germany Pascal Wehrlein Germany Porsche Team 1'09.905 1.212
18 Brazil Sergio Sette Camara DRAGON / PENSKE AUTOSPORT 1'10.007 1.314
19 Switzerland Sébastien Buemi France DAMS 1'10.032 1.339
20 United Kingdom Sam Bird Jaguar Racing 1'10.066 1.373
21 United Kingdom Oliver Turvey United Kingdom NIO Formula E Team 1'10.088 1.395
22 France Norman Nato Monaco Venturi 1'10.124 1.431
23 New Zealand Nick Cassidy United Kingdom Virgin Racing 1'10.164 1.471
24 United Kingdom Jake Dennis United States Andretti Autosport 1'10.441 1.748

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