Sam Bird tops Formula E practice in Malaysia


After a hiatus of more than two months, the all-electric FIA Formula E championship resumes its season tonight with Round 2 in Putrajaya, Malaysia.

Virgin Racing’s Sam Bird has topped the one-hour, 15-minute practice that will lead into qualifying at 9 p.m. ET. Late in the session, Bird threw down a 1:21.496 around the 12-turn, 1.6-mile Putrajaya street circuit.

The session got a bit messy during the final half-hour. A red flag came out for TrulliGP driver Michela Cerruti losing a wheel, which robbed the drivers of about 15 minutes of track time.

Then towards the very end, Venturi’s Nick Heidfeld – who survived a horrific crash following last-lap contact with e.dams-Renault’s Nicolas Prost in the Beijing season opener – found the Turn 3 barrier.

The Venturi team has since tweeted that Heidfeld is OK, but the session did not restart after his latest incident. Also suffering trouble late was Red Bull Global Rallycross’ own Nelson Piquet Jr., who sustained a broken rear suspension on his China Racing entry.

American-based squad Dragon Racing was represented toward the top of the time sheets, as Jerome d’Ambrosio went P2 with a 1:22.043 run. e.dams-Renault’s Sebastien Buemi was third-fastest with a 1:22.256, followed by Dragon’s other pilot, IndyCar vet Oriol Servia in fourth (1:22.584). Prost (1:22.674) rounded out the Top 5.

The other U.S. team, Andretti Formula E, had Indy Lights pilot Matthew Brabham go to seventh (1:22.961) and Franck Montagny to eighth (1:23.287). Brabham is subbing in for Charles Pic, who is on reserve duty for Lotus at the Formula One Abu Dhabi Grand Prix this weekend.

Lucas di Grassi, who became Formula E’s inaugural race winner in Beijing following the Heidfeld-Prost crack-up, was only 13th-fastest in his Audi Sport Abt entry with a 1:24.825.

Tonight’s race is scheduled for a 1 a.m. ET start in the United States.