Cape Town E-Prix – Edoardo Mortara beat Sam Bird to the top of the charts as South Africa saw two Red Flags for its first Formula E experience.
The McLarens were the first to take to the circuit under the gloriously blue sky in Cape Town, Rene Rast opened the timeline boards with a 1:22.498 and the first of the competitive times came from Jake Dennis with a 1:15.642 in his Andretti.
(FP1) First Practice Results – 2023 Cape Town E-Prix
The session was Red Flagged after just over five minutes when Sebastien Buemi had a big incident at T9. The Envision appears to have gotten on the dirt and slid into the wall at the outside of the corner before sliding halfway to T10, scattering debris all across the track and detaching the rear right wheel, leaving it to wander across the track by itself.
At that stage the McLaren’s were controlling the timesheets, Jake Hughes in P1 with a 1:13.229 just over two tenths ahead of Rast while Edoardo Mortara in his Maserati and ABT’s Kelvin van der Linde, the South African getting to have a home race while he substitutes for the recovering Robin Frijns, were the only others in the 1:13s, Mortara with a 1:13.977 with van der Linde just a thousandth behind him.
The clock continued ticking and the session was announced to be extended by ten minutes which meant there were twenty-two minutes for the eighteen remaining drivers, as Lucas di Grassi was classified as out on the timings, to use once the session went green again. Later it was revealed that the Brazilian parked his car behind the barriers at the chicane after a rear suspension failure.
While the cars on track continued shaving the times down, Mortara on top with a 1:11.129 with fifteen minutes left to complete. The Red Flag made a reappearance at the thirteen minute mark when van der Linde stopped at T7. The ABT driver has been plagued with car issues since he stepped into the car and
During the second suspension period, it was Jaguar on top, Mitch Evans with a 1:10.816 almost three tenths faster than Sam Bird. Dennis’ Andretti had been missing from the track after Buemi’s car was cleared but his issue had been rectified and he was able to get back out when the ABT was removed from the track.
There were only six minutes of running left once the session got back underway and Mahindra’s Oliver Rowland was the only one of the seventeen remaining drivers not to head out right away but he did join after a few minutes. The times continued to fall and it was Mortara, who was always there or thereabouts, who took the top spot with a 1:09.700.
Bird ended the day in P2, a tenth and a half off the Maserati racer while Nissan’s Sacha Fenestraz jumped into P3 with a 1:09.887. Antonio Felix da Costa took P4, the last of those in the 1:09s, while Dan Ticktum took P5 for NIO 333.
McLaren’s Rast was P5 with a 1:10.138 while Maximilian Guenther in the second Maserati was just 0.001 seconds behind. Sergio Sette Camara made it two NIO 333’s in the top 10, the Brazilian scored a brilliant P5 in India giving the team a nice haul of points, while Norman Nato and Evans rounded out the top ten.