Renault e.DAMS continued to dictate the pace in the first official practice session for the Formula E opener at Beijing this morning as Sebastien Buemi comfortably topped the times in his RENAULT Z.E.15.
The Swiss driver set a best of 1m36.991s, a time which eclipsed yesterday’s best lap by just over two tenths of a second.
Buemi set his time in the final three minutes of the session, beating his team mate Nicolas Prost, who was 0.493s behind despite stopping briefly on the track during the session.
Sam Bird had led the times in his VIRGIN DSV-01 as the session entered the final five minutes but was ultimately shuffled down to fifth place when the two Dragon Racing drivers Loic Duval and Jerome D’Ambrosio placed third and fourth respectively in the final moments.
These were impressive laps for the American team and Duval’s best of 1m37.890s was within half a second of Prost in second position.
Bird’s team-mate Jean-Eric Vergne placed only 14th after appearing to abort his quick lap which had looked promising through the first sectors.
The session was briefly red-flagged after reigning champion Nelson Piquet crashed his NEXTEV TCR FormulaE 001 at the pit exit, thanks to a software glitch that led to a stuck throttle. As a result, the Brazilian failed to set a competitive time.
Team-mate Oliver Turvey again ended up in the Top 10 with a 1m40.992s lap, which was good enough for ninth position.
Jacques Villeneuve placed 16th in his first official competitive Formula E session, surviving a lurid spin to set a best of 1m42.590s in his Venturi VM200-FE-01.
Several drivers had trips over the tight first chicane run off, including Bruno Senna, Lucas Di Grassi and Bird.