Formula E – While Mitch Evans was fastest in the morning, a fire in the pits during lunch break saw the afternoon session of pre-season testing cancelled.
Testing for Formula E’s 10th season got underway at the Circuit Ricardo Tormo in Valencia this morning with drivers and some rookies taking to the track for the three hour morning session. A change for this year means that each team will give up one practice session in each car to a rookie on Tuesday and Wednesday. The only exception to this is for Maserati where their newly signed driver, Jehan Daruvala, won’t have to give up a session as he is a rookie this season himself.
During the morning session rookie driver Taylor Barnard beat the fastest time from last year’s test, a 1:25.127 by Maximilian Guenther, after he set a 1:24.929 lap time in Sam Bird’s McLaren. Just before the final hour started the session was Red Flagged for around fifteen minutes when Stoffel Vandoorne’s DS Penske, being driven by Robert Shwartzman, stopped on track.
Once the session restarted the lap times continued to fall and the first session of the week ended with Jaguar TCS Racing’s Mitch Evans on top with a 1:24.474. During the testing teams will also be trialling fast charge pit stops which are set to become a feature in the races this season.
During the lunch break, which included teams getting some promotional filming done on track, a fire broke out in the Williams Advanced Engineering garage. That led to the buildings and garages all being evacuated while the blaze was dealt with and one person was brought to the local hospital for precautionary checks.
“In a break between practice sessions,” a statement from Formula E read, “a fire was detected in the pit lane and garage area which has been contained.
“The on-track Incident Response Team acted immediately to contain the incident while the main pit building and garages were quickly evacuated.
“One person has been assessed by medics and has been transported to hospital for precautionary checks.
“Formula E, the FIA and local fire authorities are investigating the cause and will provide a further update in due course.”
While the official cause hasn’t been released, The Race’s Sam Smith, who was on-site, reported that it was the battery from Shwartzman’s car, which had been removed from the DS Penske and taken to the Williams Advanced Engineering garage for inspection, that caused the fire.
Later, Formula E cancelled the rest of the day’s activities: “Following the incident earlier today, the FIA have advised Formula E and all teams that on-track activities have been cancelled for the rest of the day.
“This will allow for the area to return to safe working conditions. Further updates will be shared in due course.”
On Tuesday evening there was an update to the situation which said there would be no on-track action taking place on Wednesday while the investigation and safety assessments were ongoing. It is hoped that testing would be able to resume on Thursday but a final decision will be made about that on Wednesday. Also, there was an update on the paddock member who was taken to hospital which revealed they were released without needing any treatment.
“In response to an incident earlier today at Formula E pre-season testing in Valencia when a fire caused damage to a garage in the pit lane, on-track testing activity will not go ahead tomorrow, Wednesday,” the statement read.
“Damage from the incident was contained following the activation of emergency procedures. One person was taken to hospital as a precaution but released without treatment.
“An investigation into the cause of the incident is ongoing, but has already identified an issue which is being addressed. The investigation and further safety assessments will be completed and we aim to resume on-track activities from Thursday, subject to final confirmation tomorrow.”
Rookie schedule: (as released prior to Tuesday’s incident)
|Team||Car #||Driver||Rookie driver||Rookie session|
|Andretti Global||1||Jake Dennis||Zane Maloney||Tues AM|
|DS Penske||2||Stoffel Vandoorne||Robert Shwartzman||Tues AM|
|ERT FE Team||3||Sergio Sette Camara||Mikel Azcona Troyas||Weds PM|
|Envision Racing||4||Robin Frijns||Jack Aitken||Weds AM|
|NEOM McLaren FE Team||5||Jake Hughes||Taylor Barnard||Tues PM|
|Maserati MSG Racing||7||Maximilian Guenther||Yann Ehrlacher||Weds AM|
|NEOM McLaren FE Team||8||Sam Bird||Taylor Barnard||Tues AM|
|Jaguar TCS Racing||9||Mitch Evans||Sheldon van der Linde||Weds PM|
|ABT Cupra FE Team||11||Lucas di Grassi||Tim Tramnitz||Weds PM|
|TAG Heuer Porsche FE Team||13||Antonio Felix da Costa||Gabriela Jilkova||Weds AM|
|Envision Racing||16||Sebastien Buemi||Jack Aitken||Weds PM|
|Andretti Global||17||Norman Nato||Zane Maloney||Weds PM|
|Maserati MSG Racing||18||Jehan Daruvala||–||–|
|Mahindra Racing||21||Nyck de Vries||Jordan King||Weds AM|
|Nissan FE Team||22||Oliver Rowland||Luca Ghiotto||Tues AM|
|Nissan FE Team||23||Sacha Fenestraz||Victor Martins||Tues AM|
|DS Penske||25||Jean-Eric Vergne||Robert Shwartzman||Weds PM|
|ERT FE Team||33||Dan Ticktum||Mikel Azcona Troyas||Weds AM|
|Jaguar TCS Racing||37||Nick Cassidy||Sheldon van der Linde||Weds AM|
|Mahindra Racing||48||Edoardo Mortara||Jordan King||Weds PM|
|ABT Cupra FE Team||51||Nico Muller||Adrien Tambay||Weds PM|
|TAG Heuer Porsche FE Team||94||Pascal Wehrlein||Gabriela Jilkova||Weds PM|