Formula E’s first rookie test has taken place in Marrakesh, Morocco with Nico Müller atop the times for Audi Sport Abt Schaeffler. The Swiss driver’s 1:19.651 lap was not only fastest of the day, but also better than even the 1:19.760 record time set during the previous day’s ePrix.
Taking a leaf out of the books of other FIA single seater categories, the rookie test was open to any driver to have never held an eLicence. As a result, a wide range backgrounds comprised the 20 drivers taking part; from those with Formula 1 experience like Paul di Resta (Jaguar) and Antonio Giovinazzi (DS Virgin), through to sports car and GT drivers such as Frédéric Makowiecki (Techeetah) and Harry Tincknell (NIO), DTM racers Bruno Spengler (Andretti), Garry Paffett (Venturi) and Joel Eriksson (DS Virgin), combined with a selection of up-and-coming open-wheel drivers from the well-worn path towards F1.
Among fresh faces were two famous surnames: Pietro Fittipaldi – grandson of two-time Formula 1 World Champion Emerson – tested with Jaguar, while Colton Herta – the son of former IndyCar racer Bryan – ran the day with Andretti.
Di Resta was fastest in the morning session with a 1:22.323 lap, ahead of James Rossiter (Techeetah), Eriksson, Maximilian Günther (Dragon) and Giovinazzi. The session was stopped twice, firstly for a crash at turn one for the Dragon of Andrea Caldarelli, and then to clear a dog which found its way on to the track. Light rain began to fall shortly after di Resta set his best time, effectively ending the fast running for the session.
Müller would set the fastest time of the day during the final minutes of afternoon running, jumping ahead of Fittipaldi, Gunther, di Resta and Rossiter.
Reflecting on a successful first test, Müller was pleased with how his day had panned out: “I had lots of fun today. My first time in a Formula E car was a very successful one, I really enjoyed myself and I got to do a lot of laps. Being the quickest is the icing on the cake but what’s more important is that we did the work that was planned. I got my first taste of a very fun series, in a very fun car.”
While it was all smooth sailing for Müller who ran in Audi Sport Abt Schaeffler’s #66 normally driven in the series by Daniel Abt, Formula 2 driver Nyck de Vries’ day in the sister #1 car was plagued by technical difficulties – much as reigning champion Lucas di Grassi had struggled with in the same entry the day prior. Ultimately de Vries did managed to get some clean running late in the day, ending up tenth fastest for the session.
Japanese Formula 3 champion and Nissan’s factory driver Mitsunori Takaboshi ran with Renault e.Dams during the test, finishing the first session in tenth place and twentieth when focusing on race runs in the afternoon. This is the first visible sign of the change in image for the e.Dams cars ahead of next season, where – due to a refocus of brand goals within the Renault-Nissan-Mitsubishi Alliance – they will become the Nissan factory team in 2018-2019.
The Formula E field now leaves Marrakesh, with the Chilean capital Santiago to host the next ePrix – race four of the season – on Saturday February 3.
|2017-18 ABB Formula E Rookie Test – Unofficial Times|
|Pos||Driver||Team / Entry||Time||Laps|
|1.||Nico Müller||Audi Sport ABT Schaeffler||1:19.651||52|
|2.||Pietro Fittipaldi||Panasonic Jaguar Racing||1:20.597||34|
|3.||Maximilian Günther||Dragon Racing Penske||1:20.657||37|
|4.||Paul di Resta||Panasonic Jaguar Racing||1:20.774||40|
|5.||James Rossiter||Techeetah Renault||1:20.794||33|
|6.||Daniel Juncadella||Mahindra Racing||1:20.874||30|
|7.||Antonio Giovinazzi||DS Virgin Racing Citroën||1:20.876||32|
|8.||Andrea Caldarelli||Dragon Racing Penske||1:20.964||40|
|9.||Joel Eriksson||DS Virgin Racing Citroën||1:20.971||33|
|10.||Nyck de Vries||Audi Sport ABT Schaeffler||1:21.108||15|
|11.||Gary Paffett||Venturi Formula E Team||1:21.351||26|
|12.||Sam Dejonghe||Mahindra Racing||1:21.884||39|
|13.||Alexander Albon||Renault e.Dams||1:22.027||51|
|14.||Frédéric Makowiecki||Techeetah Renault||1:22.219||34|
|15.||Alexandre Imperatori||NIO Formula E Team||1:22.500||34|
|16.||Colton Herta||MS&AD Andretti Formula E||1:22.673||34|
|17.||Harry Ticknell||NIO Formula E Team||1:23.791||53|
|18.||Michaël Benyahia||Venturi Formula E Team||1:23.975||20|
|19.||Bruno Spengler||MS&AD Andretti Formula E||1:24.127||27|
|20.||Mitsunori Takaboshi||Renault e.Dams||1:24.179||47|
Image via FIA Formula E Championship