Frijns fastest in wet Hong Kong practice

Envision Virgin Racing’s Robin Frijns was fastest in practice for the Hong Kong Formula E race ahead of Nissan e.dams’ Oliver Rowland.

Rowland topped the first free practice session which started in wet conditions, with times initially in the 1:18s but as the circuit dried and the drivers gained confidence, times began to tumble.

A flurry of qualifying runs at full power towards the end of the session brought Rowland’s leading time down to 1:09.283, 0.37 seconds ahead of DS Techeetah’s Andre Lotterer. Both, along with the second Nissan Sebastien Buemi, had been running at the sharp end all session long.

Geox Dragon’s Jose Maria Lopez was the first to come across the escape road, running off at Turn 2 twice before Mitch Evans also took to the run-off in his Jaguar. The second Virgin of Sam Bird hit the wall on entry after locking his brakes, but he escaped with minor damage.

Bird also had to use the escape road at the Turn 1 hairpin, as did reigning champion Jean-Eric Vergne and inaugural champion Nelson Piquet.

A second downpour between the two sessions meant times were mostly slower in FP2 with Frijns, after clipping the inside wall at the penultimate corner in the earlier session, being the only driver to improve on Rowland’s time by 0.062 seconds.

The Nissan driver was quickest prior to the final runs on a 1:10.447, and looked like he would end the session fastest again after his qualifying run was 0.021 seconds quicker than Lotterer behind him, but a last gasp effort from Frijns put him ahead by 0.257 seconds.

2016/17 champion Lucas di Grassi, who was 12th fastest in the session, slid his Audi Sport Abt Schaeffler through Turn 9 and just brushed his left-rear against the TecPro barriers.

Lopez once again struggled at Turn 2, nosing the barrier and narrowly avoiding being collected by Pascal Wehrlein’s Mahindra, who locked up on his way into the corner, trying to rejoin the track.

The sister Dragon did not fare much better as an early scrape against the wall kept Felipe Nasr in the garage with only five laps under his belt.

Evans also only completed a handful of laps when he pulled over at the Turn 6 hairpin with an issue, as did Edoardo Mortara’s Venturi after leaving the pit lane at the beginning of the session but he recovered to set the fourth best time in FP2.

Double DTM champion Gary Paffett suffered a driveshaft problem at the end of FP1 which stopped his HWA Racelab car on the circuit.

Click here to see the session results.

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Chris Stevens

Chris is a member of the Autosport Academy and has been writing about motorsport professionally since 2015. He has been one of the top Formula E journalists since he went to Donington Park for pre-season testing a week after picking up his A-Level results.

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