Formula E

Rowland Fastest in Opening Diriyah Practice as Defending Champion de Vries Crashes

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Credit: FIA Formula E

Oliver Rowland ended fastest in the opening practice session of the ABB FIA Formula E World Championship season on Thursday as the eleven teams prepared for the Diriyah E-Prix double header in Saudi Arabia.

Rowland, who has made the switch from Nissan e.dams to Mahindra Racing for the 2021/22 season, set a best time of 1:10.559 at the very end of the session to outpace 2019/20 champion António Félix da Costa of DS Techeetah by 0.158 seconds.

Reigning champion Nyck de Vries had a far from impressive start to his championship defence, with the Mercedes-EQ Formula E Team driver ending in the wall within the first five minutes, with his lack of representative lap time seeing him end up twenty-second and last on the timesheets.

Jake Dennis, one of the surprise packages of the 2020/21 season, was third fastest in the newly renamed Avalanche Andretti Formula E Team following the departure of BMW as a manufacturer entry at the end of last year, while Jean-Éric Vergne was on course to top the session as he set two purple sectors only for the second Techeetah driver to suffer a slide in the final sector to leave him only fourth.

Mitch Evans placed fifth for Jaguar TCS Racing, just over half a second down on Rowland’s best time, while last years championship runner up Edoardo Mortara was sixth for ROKiT Venturi Racing, just ahead of the leading Tag Heuer Porsche FE Team driver Pascal Wehrlein.

Wehrlein is under investigation, however, with the German being investigated for a potential breach of speeding under a full-course yellow, caused by de Vries’ early crash.

Sébastien Buemi was eighth for Nissan e.dams, while Lucas di Grassi ended ninth in his first official session with his new Venturi team, just ahead of Envision Racing’s Nick Cassidy.

Of the three rookies on show this year, Dan Ticktum was the best placed of them in thirteenth for the NIO 333 FE Team, with Antonio Giovinazzi twentieth for Dragon/Penske Autosport and Oliver Askew twenty-first for Andretti.

Diriyah E-Prix Practice Times

130Oliver RowlandGBRMahindra Racing1:10.559
213António Félix da CostaPORDS Techeetah1:10.717
327Jake DennisGBRAvalanche Andretti FE Team1:10.739
425Jean-Éric VergneFRADS Techeetah1:10.744
59Mitch EvansNZLJaguar TCS Racing1:11.064
648Edoardo MortaraCHEROKIT Venturi Racing1:11.080
799Pascal WehrleinGERTAG Heuer Porsche Formula E Team1:11.139
823Sébastien BuemiCHENissan e.DAMS1:11.199
911Lucas di GrassiBRZROKiT Venturi Racing1:11.233
1037Nick CassidyNZLEnvision Racing1:11.329
1136André LottererGERTAG Heuer Porsche Formula E Team1:11.400
1229Alexander SimsGBRMahindra Racing1:11.461
1333Dan TicktumGBRNIO 333 FE Team1:11.478
145Stoffel VandoorneBELMercedes-EQ Formula E Team1:11.610
154Robin FrijnsNEDEnvision Racing1:11.640
1610Sam BirdGBRJaguar TCS Racing1:11.751
1728Maximilian GüntherGERNissan e.DAMS1:11.921
187Sérgio Sette CâmaraBRZDragon/Penske Autosport1:11.955
198Oliver TurveyGBRNIO 333 FE Team1:12.361
2099Antonio GiovinazziITADragon/Penske Autosport1:12.442
2128Oliver AskewUSAAvalanche Andretti FE Team1:12.668
2217Nyck de VriesNEDMercedes-EQ Formula E Team1:40.153
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