e.dams-Renault driver Sébastien Buemi has topped the timesheets on the fifth and final day of official pre-season testing for the FIA Formula E championship at Donington Park. Buemi led running early, setting the fastest lap in the morning session, before a 1:31.792 lap in the afternoon confirmed his position at the head of the field.
In a promising sign for the e.dams team ahead of the inaugural ePrix in Beijing, Buemi’s team mate Nicolas Prost ended the day in second position, 0.325s behind the Swiss driver. Andretti Autosport’s Franck Montagny was third, ahead of Mahindra driver Bruno Senna and Sam Bird for Virgin Racing, who beat Audi Sport ABT’s Lucas di Grassi by 0.001s to secure fifth position.
Buemi, who after being fastest at four of the series’ five official test days has to be considered a pre-season favourite for the driver’s title, admitted to still coming to grips with the unique demands of Formula E’s Spark-Renault SRT_01E car: “We’re really happy with today, especially being the last test before Beijing. We still have a few issues with the car which we need to work on and also to better understand the limits of the car. Overall we’re feeling good for the first race but we’ll have to wait and see, a lot of teams are also looking quick.”
Team mate Prost echoed Buemi’s confidence in the e.dams-Renault squad leading into the season: “We had a few issues with traffic today but overall it’s gone well and the team are now focused on Beijing, which is going to be a completely different experience for everyone.”
On a day which saw most competitors focus on race simulations, strong winds gusts at Donington – a feature not as likely to affect the tighter confines of the street circuits Formula E will race on – affected handling of the cars, as Montagny explained: “The wind was pushing quite a lot. But it’s the same for everyone and we can’t change it, we just have to work with it and try to find a solution. So far so good, in terms of lap time we’re not too bad, in terms of performance, true performance; in race mode we’re good too, so I’m quite confident.”
With just over three weeks remaining until September 13’s opening round, there are three positions on the grid yet to have drivers officially. Two of the seats are at China Racing, who during the final test utilised Nelson Piquet Jr in one car whilst Antonio Garcia and Ho-Pin Tung shared the second.
The final available position is alongside Montagny at Andretti Autosports. Charles Pic became the latest driver to test this car, with fellow ex-F1 driver Scott Speed and veteran Gil de Ferran having made appearances across the five official test days. Australian Matthew Brabham, who races for Andretti’s Indy Lights program also drove the car at last week’s race meeting simulation events.
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