Diriyah E-Prix 1 – Mahindra Racing’s Oliver Rowland once again put in a last minute flyer to claim the top spot in Diriyah free practice.
Just as the track should’ve gone green a message from Race Control appeared on screen saying that the session wouldn’t be starting on time, according to journalist Hazel Southwell, there was some work being done on track after an incident during the Porsche VIP hot laps.
The final half hour of practice before qualifying then started after a 15 minute delay with Nyck de Vries leading the pack out for Mercedes. The reigning champion looking to complete his first fast lap of the weekend after hitting the wall at the start of his first effort in FP1 and had to retire the car as a result.
Within the first ten minutes of the session the best times had evolved from a 1:20.060 for de Vries down to a 1:10.955 for Dragon/Penske’s Sergio Sette Camara, still a few tenths off the time Oliver Rowland set in FP1. That wasn’t to last though, with seventeen minutes on the clock Mitch Evans went to the top of the times with a 1:10.479 for Jaguar TCS, 0.080 quicker.
Times continued to be bettered with the leaderboard constantly being updated. In the final minutes of the session, with all drivers on track to prepare and set their laps, traffic was the order of the day but despite slaloming his way through his final lap it was Rowland once again on top with a 1:08.957.
Sam Bird slotted into P2 for Jaguar, 0.015 seconds slower with Andretti’s Jake Dennis in P3. Antonio Felix da Costa was the quicker of the Techeetah drivers, the Portuguese’s 1:09.048 seeing him into P4, with Envision’s Robin Frijns a couple of hundredths further back for P5.
Tag Heuer Porsche’s Pascal Wehrlein was P6 0.215 seconds off the Mahindra, while the second Techeetah of Jean-Eric Vergne slotted into P7. Nick Cassidy was P8 with a 1:09.255 for Envision.
The last driver within half a second of Rowland was Nissan e.dams’ Maximilian Guenther, the German setting a 1:09.413 for P9, while Andretti’s rookie, Oliver Askew, closed out the top ten, 0.545 seconds off the best time.