Ten minute dash sees Bird top Putrajaya ePrix practice

by Tom Errington

Late drama dominated the practice session at Formula E’s Putrajaya ePrix, ignited by the loose wheel of Michela Cerutti’s Trulli GP car falling off in the third sector.

With around 15 minutes spent under the red flag, it created a frantic final ten minutes as the grid pushed to maximise the high percentage of energy left in the batteries, with Virgin Racing’s Sam Bird taking the fastest time of the session with a 1min 21.496secs.

He was able to put his fast time in just before heartbreak befell Venturi GP. Their hard work in order to repair Nick Heidfeld’s Renault-Spark proved undone as the German hit the wall at turn three, bring a premature close to the session.

It was the latest in a long running pattern of drivers battling the first three corners, with a spectacular slide by Audi Sport ABT’s Lucas Di Grassi proving to be one of many cars to go cut through the s-bend.

Venturi’s incident followed a bizarre incident for Nelson Piquet Jr in the China Racing Renault-Spark, who managed to catch one of the many bumps, but unlike the others who struggled, managed to cause damage to the left hand side of his car.

There was good news for the often struggling Dragon Racing. Late to the Donington tests and unimpressive in Beijing, the team seemed to make the most of the two month hiatus as their improved pace saw Jerome D’Ambrosio take second in the session thanks to a lap of 1min 22.043secs.

Their improvement saw them catch up to the often impressive e.dams-Renault. Proving their single lap pace once again, after leading the way in Donington and Beijing, as Sebastien Buemi rounded off the top three with his time of 1min 22.256secs.

In fourth, there was the second Dragon Racing car, driven by Oriol Servia, with his time of 1min 22.584secs besting the e.dams-Renault of Nico Prost and his 1min 22.674secs lap.

Sixth saw Mahindra Racing’s Karun Chandhok, who moved up the rankings late and ran the third highest amount of laps in the race with 23. His 1min 22.825 bested debutant Matthew Brabham of Andretti Autosport.

Brabham made history in the session, becoming not only the first American and first Australian to race in Formula E, but also the youngest driver in Formula E’s short time. Setting the early pace and the first timed lap, he showed good pace on his way to seventh with a lap of 1min 22.961secs.

The damaged car of Piquet Jr was able to put in a decent lap before its session was ended, taking ninth thanks to his time of 1min 23.370.

In tenth, it was Jarno Trulli of Trulli GP who bounced back from his Beijing disappointment to round of the top ten with his time of 1min 23.414 enough to hold off the challenge of Mahindra’s Bruno Senna.

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