Lucas di Grassi has further lowered the unofficial Donington Park Formula E lap record, setting a 1:29.920s lap on Day 4 of pre-season testing.
With teammate Daniel Abt having topped the times during the previous day of running, di Grassi assumed driving duties for the ABT Schaeffler Audi Sport squad on Tuesday and used the full 200kW available in his car’s ‘Qualifying Mode’ to become the first driver to complete a sub-1:30 lap at Donington.
While stressing that reliability over a race distance is a more important matter as development of the new Formula E powertrains continues, di Grassi was still impressed with the performance.
“I have to say that going for the time is not as important as working on the reliability of the car,” he reflected after the session. “Of course working on the performance is important, but we know that performance here doesn’t necessarily translate to what we will see at the other tracks. I think the lap time shows promise and it’s good to know that our package is running well at 200kW.”
Fastest driver at last week’s first test, Renault e.Dams’ Sébastien Buemi ended the day in second place, 0.462s behind di Grassi, with teammate Nicolas Prost also just sneaking in to the top five. Buemi was happy with his team’s test program, focusing on reliability of the car when using the 150kW ‘Race Mode’.
“To be honest we focussed on race simulations or at least 150kW stints and we learned a lot of things,” he sad. “We feel like there are things we can still improve on the car in terms of performance and reliability.
“We trust our people and our system and we will work hard to get the most out of the car for the rest of testing. Clearly we don’t want to show our hand but you also need to experience what you are capable of doing. You try to play the game and see what happens. Abt look strong which is good but I’m confident with the people we have we can do a good job.”
Splitting the two Renault e.Dams were both Mahindras of Bruno Senna and Nick Heidfeld. Another quiet but strong pair of results show the Indian team is potentially one to watch during the coming season.
“Today has gone not too bad; we tried a few things and were happy with what we learned,” said Senna. “The new package seems good and most of all has been reliable, although we’re perhaps not the quickest out there at the moment. Next week we need to focus on maximising our efficiency and it will be interesting to see where everyone is in the final session.”
Jean-Éric Vergne placed his DS Virgin in sixth position, ahead of the sole Dragon Racing car of Jérôme d’Ambrosio.
Team Aguri ran another first-time Formula E driver, this time in the form of GP2 Series driver Nathanaël Berthon, who ended the day in a respectable eighth position. Aguri is the only team in Season 2 who will run the SRT-01e powertrain that was a control unit for all competitors in the first season.
While not setting blistering times during testing, the team have had several solid results across the four test days so far with numerous rookies behind the wheel. The reliability and ‘known quantity’ of the SRT-01e may in fact give Aguri an advantage once the season begins over some of its rivals who are struggling with teething problems in their new powertrains.
Behind Berthon were the two Venturis of Stéphane Sarrazin and Jacques Villeneuve, and the pair of NEXTEV TCR cars driven by Nelson Piquet Jr and Oliver Turvey. Having struggled with gearbox and related drivetrain issues last week, the seocnd pair of test days have been far more fruitful for the NEXTEV TCR team, today completing a combined total of 74 laps across both cars.
Day 4 of testing was again a struggle for the Andretti and Trulli teams. Simona de Silvestro managed to finally complete an installation lap without stopping on track in her Andretti, but failed to set a flying lap time.
Trulli, on the other hand, are still yet to have taken to the track at any stage across the four test days so far. Next week’s final two days of testing – Monday August 24 and Tuesday August 25 – will be crucial for both teams to at least get some running under their belts with their new cars before the season begins in China in October.
|2015-16 Formula E Formula E Pre-Season Test – Day 4 Session Times|
|Pos||Driver||Team / Entry||Time||Gap||Laps|
|1.||Lucas di Grassi||ABT Schaeffler Audi Sport||1:29.920||45|
|2.||Sébastien Buemi||Renault e.DAMS||1:30.382||+ 0.462||38|
|3.||Bruno Senna||Mahindra Racing Formula E Team||1:30.670||+ 0.750||46|
|4.||Nick Heidfeld||Mahindra Racing Formula E Team||1:30.674||+ 0.754||45|
|5.||Nicolas Prost||Renault e.DAMS||1:30.677||+ 0.757||36|
|6.||Jean-Éric Vergne||DS Virgin Racing Formula E Team||1:30.925||+ 1.005||44|
|7.||Jérôme d’Ambrosio||Dragon Racing||1:31.144||+ 1.224||71|
|8.||Nathanaël Berthon||Team Aguri||1:31.185||+ 1.265||68|
|9.||Stéphane Sarrazin||Venturi Formula E Team||1:31.241||+ 1.321||45|
|10.||Jacques Villeneuve||Venturi Formula E Team||1:31.489||+ 1.569||45|
|11.||Nelson Piquet Jr||NEXTEV TCR Formula E Team||1:34.133||+ 4.213||33|
|12.||Oliver Turvey||NEXTEV TCR Formula E Team||1:35.770||+ 5.850||40|
|13.||Simona de Silvestro||Amlin Andretti Formula E Team||no time||10|
|14.||Jarno Trulli||Trulli Formula E Team||no time||0|
Images via FIA Formula E Championship