Bird and Frijns make Virgin the team to beat after topping Practice in Ad Diriyah

by Tom Cairns
Robin Frijns - Envision Virgin Racing in the 2019 Diriyah e-Prix - Race 1 - Practice 1

Sam Bird and Robin Frijns were quickest in the two practice sessions for Envision Virgin Racing going into the first qualifying session of the 2019-20 ABB FIA Formula E Championship.

Although none of the drivers set their best times on full power in the opening session, Frijns was fastest ahead of Nico Müller in the GEOX Dragon.

A couple of red flags halted the session. The first was due to Ma Qing Hua damaging the front end of his NIO 333, which saw him stopping out on track. A ten-minute stoppage was required before the cars were able to return to the circuit.

A number of drivers had spells of being at the top of the timing pages including Oliver Rowland, Mitch Evans and Sam Bird.

The second red flag came when Brendon Hartley, who is one of four debutants in the field, hit the outside barrier of Turn Six and breaking his left-rear suspension.

There was seven minutes left in the session before the drivers had another go of improving their times. Nyck de Vries and Stoffel Vandoorne demonstrated some decent pace in the Mercedes-Benz EQ Formula E cars, which could be two drivers in particular to look out for later in qualifying.

However, in the end, it was Frijns who was quickest in Practice One but by no means were the times representative at this stage, as traffic was a huge issue at the Ad Diriyah track.

2019 Diriyah e-Prix - Race 1: Practice 1 Classification

POS.NO.DRIVERNAT.TEAMTIME
14Robin FrijnsNEDEnvision Virgin Racing1:16.137
27Nico MüllerSWIGEOX Dragon+1.264
32Sam BirdGBREnvision Virgin Racing+1.424
45Stoffel VandoorneBELMercedes-Benz EQ Formula E Team+1.556
523Sébastien BuemiSWINissan e.dams+1.710
613António Félix da CostaPORDS Techeetah+1.859
720Mitch EvansNZLPanasonic Jaguar Racing+2.210
866Daniel AbtGERAudi Sport ABT Schaeffler+2.269
917Nyck de VriesNEDMercedes-Benz EQ Formula E Team+2.289
1011Lucas di GrassiBRAAudi Sport ABT Schaeffler+2.304
1164Jérôme d'AmbrosioBELMahindra Racing+2.444
1219Felipe MassaBRAVenturi Racing+2.481
1348Edoardo MortaraSWIVenturi Racing+2.612
1427Alexander SimsGBRBMW i Andretti Motorsport+2.702
1536André LottererGERTAG Heuer Porsche+2.736
163Oliver TurveyGBRNIO 333+3.048
1725Jean-Éric VergneFRADS Techeetah+3.173
1818Neel JaniSWITAG Heuer Porsche+3.190
1922Oliver RowlandGBRNissan e.dams+3.908
2028Maximilian GüntherGERBMW i Andretti Motorsport+4.166
2151James CaladoGBRPanasonic Jaguar Racing+4.564
226Brendon HartleyNZLGEOX Dragon+5.399
2333Ma Qing HuaCHINIO 333No Time
2494Pascal WehrleinGERMahindra RacingNo Time

The second session saw a five-minute delay due to track works being done. When the session did get underway, the first four minutes were under Full Course Yellow conditions.

Afterwards, DS Techeetah were beginning to show their true pace, as Jean-Éric Vergne and António Félix da Costa were one and two with fifteen minutes of the session remaining.

An incident occurred though involving James Calado, who was trying to pass the slowing Daniel Abt on a flying lap. The rookie clouted the barrier at the penultimate corner and damaging his left-rear but was able to crawl back to the pits for a replacement.

After Rowland, Buemi and Edoardo Mortara inherited first position, Sam Bird topped the table on a 1:14.353 on full power ahead of da Costa going into qualifying that begins at 08:00 GMT.

2019 Diriyah e-Prix - Race 1: Practice 2 Classification

POS.NO.DRIVERNAT.TEAMTIME
12Sam BirdGBREnvision Virgin Racing1:14.353
213António Félix da CostaPORDS Techeetah+0.794
348Edoardo MortaraSWIVenturi Racing+0.949
423Sébastien BuemiSWINissan e.dams+0.976
522Oliver RowlandGBRNissan e.dams+1.077
666Daniel AbtGERAudi Sport ABT Schaeffler+1.093
764Jérôme d'AmbrosioBELMahindra Racing+1.225
84Robin FrijnsNEDEnvision Virgin Racing+1.471
936André LottererGERTAG Heuer Porsche+1.608
1094Pascal WehrleinGERMahindra Racing+1.609
1125Jean-Éric VergneFRADS Techeetah+1.666
1219Felipe MassaBRAVenturi Racing+1.813
1311Lucas di GrassiBRAAudi Sport ABT Schaeffler+2.229
1427Alexander SimsGBRBMW i Andretti Motorsport+2.256
1520Mitch EvansNZLPanasonic Jaguar Racing+2.412
1628Maximilian GüntherGERBMW i Andretti Motorsport+2.518
177Nico MüllerSWIGEOX Dragon+2.566
183Oliver TurveyGBRNIO 333+2.766
195Stoffel VandoorneBELMercedes-Benz EQ Formula E Team+2.987
2018Neel JaniSWITAG Heuer Porsche+3.121
2117Nyck de VriesBELMercedes-Benz EQ Formula E Team+3.645
2251James CaladoGBRPanasonic Jaguar Racing+5.490
2333Ma Qing HuaCHINIO 333+10.477
246Brendon HartleyNZLGEOX DragonNo Time

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