Buemi quickest on opening day of Formula E testing

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DONINGTON PARK – Renault e.Dams driver Sebastien Buemi made a perfect start to Formula E pre-season testing by topping the timesheets at Donington Park on Monday.

Buemi finished with a fastest lap time of 1:32.095 to finish 0.063s clear of Lucas di Grassi as the Formula E teams came together for the first official test since the London ePrix in June.

Running was rather limited on the first day at Donington as the teams continue to get to grips with their new powertrains.

With teams running varying programmes, it was difficult to make any firm deductions or assumptions – the three second gap between fifth and sixth place acts as evidence of the differing priorities for the teams.

Buemi posted his fastest lap time late on to edge out di Grassi at the top of the timesheets, whilst e.Dams teammate Nicolas Prost was forced to settle for third place.

Despite leading for most of the day, DS Virgin Racing’s Sam Bird eventually finished fourth ahead of Salvador Duran, who completed more laps than any other driver on Monday.

Bruno Senna finished sixth for Mahindra ahead of Nick Heidfeld and Jerome d’Ambrosio, whilst the second Team Aguri shared by Duran and Tom Dillmann ended the day in ninth place. Stephane Sarrazin rounded out the top ten.

There were just three red flags across the course of the day at Donington, all of which involved Nelson Piquet Jr and Jacques Villeneuve. The first came during the hour-long early afternoon session as both drivers stopped out on track simultaneously in separate incidents.

Piquet brought out another red flag in the final hour of running by stopping out on track, and was followed by Villeneuve who stopped just moments after the session had resumed.

NEWS AND NOTES

Mahindra’s confirmation of Nick Heidfeld this morning has forged one of the most experienced and successful line-ups on the Formula E grid as the German driver partners Bruno Senna.

Given the announcement followed Venturi’s confirmation of Jacques Villeneuve, one could be forgiven for thinking Heidfeld had been dropped or forced out of the Monegasque team. However, it has been confirmed to MotorSportsTalk that Heidfeld made the choice to leave Venturi and join Mahindra.

Trulli failed to get its car out at all on Monday despite originally planning complete a shakedown. The team did not complete any private testing, meaning that this was its first time out on track since the London ePrix back in June. The garage doors only opened with a couple of hours remaining in the day as team boss Jarno Trulli made an appearance on the pit wall.

The Italian driver took some time to catch up with Jacques Villeneuve, with the two drivers spending much of their F1 careers on the grid together. A lack of testing in the off-season is slightly concerning, though, and the team will be hoping to rectify some of this on Tuesday.

Amlin Andretti also failed to get out on track at all on Monday, leaving Simona de Silvestro to sit on the sidelines in her civvies. The new livery on the car is very cool, although the team shirts do simply read “Amlin” – just like the Amlin Aguri ones from season one, thus creating the possibility for confusion.

Like Trulli, Andretti has failed to complete any off-season testing, meaning de Silvestro still has just two days of Formula E running under her belt.

Team Aguri enjoyed a productive day as both Salvador Duran and Tom Dillmann completed running at Donington, finishing well up the order. The team is sticking with its season one powertrain for the second campaign, believing it to be a more logical step than producing an all-new system. It is worth nothing that the team is the only one on the grid to be retaining the powertrain from season one, though.

Jacques Villeneuve’s first public Formula E appearance was by no means outstanding, but the former CART and F1 champion seemed to be in high spirits all day long. Two stoppages across the course of the day may have tempered this, of course.

Nelson Piquet Jr was the only other driver to suffer stoppages out on track. All of the other drivers enjoyed a problem-free day of running, though, although Lucas di Grassi and Stephane Sarrazin had brief scares on track before they got their cars back going again.

Formula E pre-season test one – Donington Park (August 10)

1. Sebastien Buemi 1:32.095 (36 laps)
2. Lucas di Grassi 1:32.158 +0.063 (24)
3. Nicolas Prost 1:32.286 +0.191 (32)
4. Sam Bird 1:32.523 +0.428 (30)
5. Salvador Duran 1:32.549 +0.454 (39)
6. Bruno Senna 1:35.653 +3.558 (28)
7. Nick Heidfeld 1:35.700 +3.605 (37)
8. Jerome d’Ambrosio 1:36.324 +4.229 (27)
9. Tom Dillmann/Salvador Duran 1:36.329 +4.234 (24)
10. Stephane Sarrazin 1:36.361 +4.266 (31)
11. Jean-Eric Vergne 1:36.704 +4.609 (36)
12. Loic Duval 1:36.841 +5.892 (11)
13. Oliver Turvey/Nelson Piquet Jr 1:38.052 +5.957 (10)
14. Jacques Villeneuve 1:38.176 +6.081 (19)
15. Nelson Piquet Jr no time (3)
16. Jarno Trulli no time (0)
17. Simona de Silvestro no time (0)