Mahindra Racing/Spacesuit Media

Heidfeld leads Mahindra 1-2 in Berlin Formula E practice

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BERLIN, Germany – Nick Heidfeld led Mahindra Racing to a one-two finish in practice for the opening Berlin Formula E race on Saturday morning, edging out teammate Felix Rosenqvist at the top of the timesheets.

Heidfeld arrived in Berlin for his home race off the back of two straight podium finishes in Monaco and Paris, and sent out another warning shot to his rivals through Saturday’s practice.

Heidfeld turned in a fastest lap time of 1:08.070 around the Berlin Tempelhof circuit in FP2 on a 200kW lap, nosing clear of Rosenqvist, who was left 0.022 seconds down in second place.

Formula E championship leader Sebastien Buemi turned in the third-fastest time of the morning, but opted to complete an early full-power lap in FP1. The Swiss driver could only finish ninth-fastest in FP2, half a second down on Heidfeld at the top.

Maro Engel finished FP2 third for Venturi ahead of Buemi’s title rival, Lucas di Grassi, who was just two-tenths of a second down in fourth place despite carrying a minor ankle injury.

Stephane Sarrazin made a good start to life with Techeetah, finishing fifth ahead of the DS Virgin Racing duo of Jose Maria Lopez and Sam Bird. Jean-Eric Vergne was eighth-quick in the second Techeetah, with Buemi and Oliver Turvey rounding out the top 10.

Max Verstappen shows speed in Austria; Lewis Hamilton lacking pace

Leonhard Foeger/Pool via Getty Images
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SPIELBERG, Austria — Red Bull driver Max Verstappen posted the fastest time Friday, and six-time Formula One champion Lewis Hamilton lacked pace in the second practice session for the Styrian Grand Prix.

Verstappen was 0.043 seconds quicker than Valtteri Bottas – Hamilton’s teammate at Mercedes – and 0.217 ahead of Racing Point driver Sergio Perez.

“The car already feels better than last week, the balance is a lot nicer and we have made a good step,” said Verstappen, who did not finish last Sunday’s season-opening Austrian GP after starting from second.

“It is too early to say how we are looking against Mercedes, but we are quite happy. We have tried a few different directions to understand the car a bit more and we are heading the right way.”

Hamilton was only sixth fastest, about 0.7 seconds slower than Verstappen. Hamilton spent a chunk of time in the garage while his team worked on his car.

“It was quite far off, so there’s a lot of work to do in the background to figure it out,” he said. “Others out there are quick and Valtteri’s obviously got good pace.”

Despite adding a new front wing to its car, struggling Ferrari had a dismal afternoon.

Charles Leclerc was only ninth quickest and 1 second slower than Verstappen, while teammate Sebastian Vettel lagged about 2 seconds behind Verstappen in 16th.

Daniel Ricciardo lost control of his Renault car early into the second session, swerving left off the track and thudding backward into a protective tire wall. He climbed out unharmed, other than a slight limp, but the left rear tire was mangled and the car was lifted off the track by a crane.

Alexander Albon spun twice, the Red Bull driver’s second spin taking him right off the track and into gravel.

Earlier, Perez was fastest in the first practice ahead of Verstappen and Bottas, with Hamilton fourth quickest and Vettel only 10th in sunny conditions.

That session was briefly interrupted when Nicholas Latifi’s Williams car pulled over to the side with a gearbox issue.

The incident brought out yellow flags, forcing drivers to slow down. But McLaren driver Lando Norris overtook Pierre Gasly’s AlphaTauri and got a three-place grid penalty for Sunday’s race.

Norris, 20, finished third at the Austrian GP last weekend, becoming the youngest British driver in F1 history to get on the podium and third youngest in F1.

The upcoming race is changing names from last week but is at the same track. It is surrounded by the Styrian mountains.

A third and final practice will be held on Saturday morning before qualifying in the afternoon, with heavy rain and storms in the forecast.

If third practice and qualifying are washed out, drivers take their grid positions from where they placed in second practice.

“It would definitely suck if we didn’t get to qualify,” said Hamilton, who started fifth and finished fourth last weekend. “It would make it challenging.”

However, qualifying also could be moved to Sunday morning.

“I don’t expect to be on pole position with this (practice) lap,” Verstappen said.