Ad Diriyah E-Prix – Formula E rookie Stoffel Vandoorne was fastest for HWA Racelab in a shortened practice following several delays to proceedings.
The first practice session was due to get underway at 7.00am but heavy rain saw both sessions initially cancelled before it 35-minute session was agreed upon after the track had cleared.
The session started with three laps of running behind the safety car to allow the drivers to get an eye in for the conditions and how the new Gen2 car handles in the rain, given the limited testing of the new car in damp conditions.
Only a few minutes of running were completed before Edoardo Mortara crashed his Venturi at Turn 1, seemingly with a brake problem as he suffered from severe rear locking. He went nose-first into the concrete barriers having gone into the corner too fast.
Only nine minutes of running remained once his car was cleared. Vandoorne was one of the last drivers across the line, setting a 1:18.868 to go 0.177s ahead of Envision Virgin Racing’s Sam Bird, who was 0.005s ahead of 2015/16 champion Sebastien Buemi.
He was ahead of his new Nissan e.dams team-mate Oliver Rowland, with Mitch Evans in fifth ahead of reigning FE champion Jean-Eric Vergne’s DS Techeetah.
Rookie Alexander Sims led his BMW i Andretti team-mate Antonio Felix da Costa in seventh. Dragon Racing’s Max Gunther and Audi Sport Abt Schaeffler’s Daniel Abt completed the top 10.
Felix Rosenqvist almost found the barriers at Turn 18 after running wide onto the painted run-off area. He finished the session 20th.
NIO driver Tom Dillmann is currently under investigation for an infringement committed during the red flag period.
Amid the rain and severe delays a new qualifying format was agreed, with two 15-minute sessions in which the field has been split.
What originally was going to be groups 1 and 3 makes up Group A, with groups 2 and 4 now making Group B and no super pole session. The first session will start at 11.25am local time.