ABT Schaeffler Audi Sport driver Daniel Abt has set a new record to finish fastest on the third day of Formula E pre-season testing at Donington Park.
The German’s 1:30.250 lap time is eight-tenths of a second faster than Sébastien Buemi’s previous record, set during the second test day last week. At the time Buemi suggested a sub-1:30 lap could be possible for Formula E, and after setting the record using ‘Qualifying Mode’ with the full 200kW available in his car Abt agrees and is eager for more: “When Buemi said that a 1:29s was possible last week that really motivated me. It was a positive day. There was no stopping on track and that’s the main thing. That meant I could just drive and performance-wise we were really good.”
Having run both team cars throughout the course of the day, Abt will now hand full driving duties over to team mate Lucas di Grassi for Tuesday’s fourth day of testing.
The result is also the first time in two years of pre-season testing that a Renault e.Dams driver (either Buemi or teammate Nicolas Prost) has not ended the day at the top of the standings.
Gearbox dramas during the evening session halted Buemi’s progress and left the Swiss driver over five seconds off the pace in tenth. Prost was still second overall, only 0.771s slower than Abt despite not being comfortable with the balance of his car while testing rear end set-up: “It was not bad you know, [I’m] not very happy with the car in terms of balance from last week but the pace was not bad. Let’s try to improve the car tomorrow and see but it’s not a bad day overall. We’re still learning a lot each day, we are testing different things especially at the rear end of the car so in terms of set-up there are things to understand. Today we tried something extreme at the rear and I wasn’t so happy with the car.”
Sam Bird ended the day third for DS Virgin Racing and also using both team cars, which teammate Jean-Éric Vergne will also do on Day 4. The Briton’s confidence is growing in the Virgin DSV-01 as development continues.
“We’ve worked on a variety of things today from system checks to set-up work and everything has run smoothly. It helped having the extra running by jumping from car to car. So far it’s seems a good package, especially in torque six mode, but this circuit is not representative of what we’ll face in Beijing and there’s still work to do,” he said later.
Having battled technical difficulties throughout test days one and two, NEXTEV TCR managed decent running during the day with reigning champion Nelson Piquet Jr ending the day in twelfth, just behind Oliver Turvey (who missed out on any running last week) in the sister car.
For the other teams who experienced major dramas in the opening test days – Trulli and Andretti – the problems continued on Day 3. Jarno Trulli did not leave the garage at any stage of the day, while Andretti’s Simona de Silvestro did not set a lap time, despite several exploratory trips on to the circuit.
Despite the lack of running, it wasn’t all bad news for de Silvestro, with Andretti Formula E confirming the Swiss driver as a full-time starter for the forthcoming season.
“I’m happy to be joining the Andretti Formula E Team for this upcoming season,” she said. “I’m really happy to be full time in the championship again and to work with both Amlin and TE Connectivity. I’m also looking forward to being part of developing the new Andretti Technologies powertrain and hope for a successful year with a great team.”
After driving in the inaugural London ePrix, team owner Michael Andretti is adamant de Silvestro will shine over a full campaign.
“I’m very pleased with the way season two is looking for Andretti Formula E. Simona did a great job at the London ePrix with very limited time to prepare, with a full season we are confident in her abilities to take the No. 28 Amlin Andretti car to the top of the podium.”
Team Aguri continued to introduce new faces into the Formula E mix, as former World Endurance racer Nicolas Lapierre had his first run on track, finishing the day in ninth place, 2.444s off the pace. Another driver will debut in this seat on Day 4, as GP2 Series driver Nathanaël Berthon is given a run.
The second pre-season test concludes on Tuesday, before a final two-day test and the first round of the new season in Beijing, China.
|2015-16 Formula E Formula E Pre-Season Test – Day 3 Session Times|
|Pos||Driver||Team / Entry||Time||Gap||Laps|
|1.||Daniel Abt||ABT Schaeffler Audi Sport||1:30.250||43|
|2.||Nicolas Prost||Renault e.DAMS||1:31.021||+ 0.771||33|
|3.||Sam Bird||DS Virgin Racing Formula E Team||1:31.023||+ 0.773||48|
|4.||Loïc Duval||Dragon Racing||1:31.144||+ 0.894||58|
|5.||Jacques Villeneuve||Venturi Formula E Team||1:31.193||+ 0.894||44|
|6.||Stéphane Sarrazin||Venturi Formula E Team||1:31.680||+ 1.430||39|
|7.||Bruno Senna||Mahindra Racing Formula E Team||1:31.696||+ 1.446||30|
|8.||Nick Heidfeld||Mahindra Racing Formula E Team||1:31.805||+ 1.555||28|
|9.||Nicolas Lapierre||Team Aguri||1:32.694||+ 2.444||78|
|10.||Sébastien Buemi||Renault e.DAMS||1:35.318||+ 5.068||18|
|11.||Oliver Turvey||NEXTEV TCR Formula E Team||1:36.773||+ 6.523||32|
|12.||Nelson Piquet Jr||NEXTEV TCR Formula E Team||1:37.460||+ 7.210||17|
|13.||Simona de Silvestro||Amlin Andretti Formula E Team||no time||0|
|14.||Jarno Trulli||Trulli Formula E Team||no time||0|
Images via FIA Formula E Championship