2015/16 Formula E champion Sebastien Buemi was fastest in Sanya practice, despite crashing his Nissan e.dams into the barriers.
Buemi ran competitively during the race runs in first practice, but was pushing for lap times in the second session when he locked up going into the left-hander of Turn 3, the location for the Attack Mode activation for the race, and nosed his car into the barriers.
He escaped with cosmetic damage and, after his team replaced his front wing, went quickest with a time of 1:07.288 to go 0.109 seconds ahead of BMW Andretti’s Antonio Felix da Costa.
FP1 pacesetter Oliver Rowland was a further 0.056 seconds behind in third in the second Nissan, 0.003 seconds ahead of title contender Jerome d’Ambrosio.
Reigning series champion Jean-Eric Vergne was only a further 0.009 seconds aback in fifth but struggled massively to find consistent performance. He had several brake issues in FP1 and complained about the brake and regen balance, which led him to running off the road first at Turn 10, taking to the escape road, then again at the Turn 8 hairpin and Turn 1 before half-spinning his DS Techeetah out of the final corner.
Hong Kong race winner Edoardo Mortara was sixth fastest for Venturi, 0.240 seconds off Buemi. The Jaguar of Mitch Evans and the Audi Sport Abt Schaeffler of Lucas di Grassi set identical times in seventh and eighth.
Felipe Nasr was 0.010 seconds ahead of his Geox Dragon team-mate Jose Maria Lopez to complete the top 10.
Championship leader Sam Bird set his best time earlier in the session but was 0.427 seconds off the ultimate pace. His Envision Virgin Racing team-mate Robin Frijns had a scruffy first session in which he clipped the barriers first at Turns 6, before doing the same at the final two corners on his last lap of the session. He also bailed out of his best lap in FP2 after braking too late for Turn 10.
Alexander Sims in the second BMW had his best lap time hampered by yellow flags for Buemi’s incident. He was 20th fastest.
Pascal Wehrlein did not put in a proper full power run as he slid into the barriers on the exit of Turn 6, having just gone fastest in the first sector. Gary Paffett in the HWA Racelab made the same mistake after also setting a purple sector time.