Formula E

Sam Bird Bounces Back From Mexico City Disappointment to Top Diriyah FP1

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Credit: Sam Bloxham courtesy of FIA Formula E

After retiring from the Mexico City E-Prix early on, Sam Bird bounced back in fine fashion at the start of this weekend’s Diriyah E-Prix, by topping Free Practice One. Jaguar TCS Racing and DS Penske both made a strong start at the host of rounds two and three of the 2022/23 ABB FIA Formula E World Championship, with Jean-Éric Vergne claiming second, Mitch Evans third and Stoffel Vandoorne fourth.

As the lights came on at what was a damp Riyadh Street Circuit, due to light drizzle, it was Edoardo Mortara who led some of the cars out, as many opted to remain in the pits for the start of the session. As the drivers completed their first out laps, damp patches were clearly visible on the circuit, with the track temperature having also been low due to the time of the day.

The Hankook rubber was squealing in agony, as the drivers purposefully went full-lock into the vast majority of the turns in a bid to generate some temperature into the hard tyres. Whilst several drivers took it in turns to top the session early on, René Rast came immediately back to the pits not long after venturing out onto the circuit, following a collision with Vandoorne whilst the Belgian was trying to get out of the way. The collision broke Rast’s front-wing, which almost completely dislodged down the main straight.

Unsurprisingly, the times tumbled throughout the opening ten minutes of the first session of the weekend; however, it was Sébastian Buemi who led the session as the timer ticked past the ten minute mark. Immediately, though, Jake Hughes and Vandoorne displaced the Swiss driver, highlighting how much time was still to be found.

By the time the session hit the halfway point, it was Vergne who topped the leaderboard on a 1:11.225, less than a tenth ahead of Sérgio Sette Câmara, Hughes and Buemi. Yet again, the name at the top changed as Vergne’s team-mate claimed the top spot by just 0.006s, suggesting that it’s going to be an incredibly close weekend. With just over ten minutes remaining, Dan Ticktum became the first person to break into the high 1:10s, with NIO 333 Racing once again looking really strong.

Whilst it was constantly changing at the top, at the bottom, Kelvin van der Linde was well off the pace in his debut session, with the South African having been brought in by the ABT CUPRA Formula E Team to replace the injured Robin Frijns. Van der Linde missed the vast majority of the session due to a reported battery problem, before finally going out onto the circuit with ten minutes remaining.

Back at the top and Hughes once again hit the top as the session approached the final five minutes; however, he was followed incredibly closely by Buemi. Vandoorne then jumped above Hughes to take the top spot, by becoming the first driver to dip into the 1:10.7s, with just a second separating every driver apart from van der Linde. The Belgian’s time at the top was short-lived, as with just two minutes to go the times tumbled once again. Vergne broke into the 1:10.4s to move to the top, before being replaced by Bird, whilst Evans moved to fourth.

As the chequered flag flew to bring the first session of the double-header weekend to a close, nobody was able to pip Bird’s time, with the top four having been made up by both Jaguar’s and both DS Penske’s, with Vergne claiming second, Evans third and Vandoorne fourth. A special mention must go to van der Linde who finished last but was just 1.8s behind Bird’s time, in his first ever session in a single-seater.

Diriyah E-Prix Round 2: Free Practice One Full Results

110Sam BirdGBRJaguar TCS Racing1:10.402
225Jean-Éric VergneFRADS Penske1:10.486
39Mitch EvansNZLJaguar TCS Racing1:10.742
41Stoffel VandoorneBELDS Penske1:10.767
537Nick CassidyNZLEnvision Racing1:10.770
633Dan TicktumGBRNIO 333 Racing1:10.777
75Jake HughesGBRNEOM McLaren Formula E Team1:10.790
816Sébastian BuemiCHEEnvision Racing1:10.811
911Lucas di GrassiBRZMahindra Racing1:10.881
1027Jake DennisGBRAvalanche Andretti Formula E1:10.907
1148Edoardo MortaraCHEMaserati MSG Racing1:10.969
1223Sacha FenestrazFRANissan Formula E Team1:11.061
133Sérgio Sette CâmaraBRZNIO 333 Racing1:11.119
148Oliver RowlandGBRMahindra Racing1:11.121
1558René RastGERNEOM McLaren Formula E Team1:11.142
1694Pascal WehrleinGERTAG Heuer Formula E Team1:11.229
1717Norman NatoFRANissan Formula E Team1:11.284
1851Nico MuellerCHEABT CUPRA Formula E Team1:11.364
197Maximilian GüntherGERMaserati MSG Racing1:11.564
2013António Félix da CostaPORTAG Heuer Porsche Formula E Team1:11.569
2136André LottererGERAvalanche Andretti Formula E1:11.727
224Kelvin van der LindeZAFABT CUPRA Formula E Team1:12.211
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