Hyderabad E-Prix – Sebastien Buemi was fastest in the first Indian Formula E session after a problem saw Pascal Wehrlein crash heavily near the start.
There was a bit of a delay to the first ever Hyderabad practice, just before the scheduled start time Race Control announced that the session wouldn’t begin on time and was estimated to get underway fifteen minutes later. Just as the additional time was coming to an end, as the drivers were getting into their cars, Scot Elkins, the Race Director apologised but said there would be more of a delay. That happened twice and so the session did finally get going 45 minutes after it was supposed to.
The official reason for the delay was given as operational issues on the roads around the circuit.
The Maseratis of Maximilian Guenther and Edoardo Mortara were the first out onto the track, which had been very dusty during Shakedown and the cleaners had been out in the intervening time. The session was Red Flagged after only a couple of minutes when Pascal Wehrlein crashed at T18 when his throttle got stuck. The championship leader’s car spun as he went into the corner and went full speed into the concrete wall, scattering pieces of Porsche around him. Wehrlein was able to get out of the car on his own but was sent to medical to be checked out.
Cars were back on track after eight minutes and Guenther put the first time on the board, a 1:19.711, which was down into the 1:17s by the halfway point of the session. At that stage McLaren’s Jake Hughes was at the top with a 1:17.485.
The rest of the Porsche cars Wehrlein’s teammate, Antonio Felix da Costa, and the two Porsche powered Andretti’s of Andre Lotterer and Jake Dennis remained in the pits. Until the data from Wehrlein’s car could be gone through and the cause of the incident found, they weren’t going to take the risk.
There were a few interesting moments on track just before the final ten minutes – Hughes having an almost handbrake turn around the hairpin, then there was contact between Mortara and Dan Ticktum when the NIO 333 driver slowed at the hairpin and the Maserati went into the back of him. The stewards would be having a look at the collision after the session.
With five minutes still on the clock it was Mortara in P1 with a 1:15.977, almost half a second ahead of Nick Cassidy’s Envision in P2, but time continued to fall in the remaining time and, despite a fast and wild lap from Sam Bird, it was Envision’s Sebastien Buemi who came out on top in the end with a 1:15.088, which saw him 0.181 seconds ahead of Stoffel Vandoorne.
Sergio Sette Camara took P3 with a 1:15.452 while Bird was P4, just over half a second off the best time. Mahindra’s Lucas di Grassi was in a Jaguar sandwich in P5, with Mitch Evans in P6.
Mortara took P7 while Jean-Eric Vergne’s 1:15.810 saw him in P8 ahead of Guenther in the other Maserati. The final driver in the top ten was Cassidy, just outside the 1:15s with a 1:16.036.
After the session when the practice starts were happening ABT Cupra’s Kelvin van der Linde, who had hit the wall and then stopped on track bringing Shakedown to a slightly early end, had a technical issue and couldn’t move off the grid.