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ERT Formula E Team practice an Attack Charge pit stop

Formula E Testing: Five things we learned on day one

It's hoped that on-track action will re-commence on Thursday

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Day one of Formula E testing was cut short and day two has been postponed following a fire in the pit lane. 

A WAE staff member watches on as a fire breaks out in the Formula E paddock
A fire in the WAE has seriously hampered the Formula E pre-season test. (Image credit: The Race)

Day one of pre-season testing at the Circuit Ricardo Tormo was, in a word, brief. Six hours of on-track action was reduced to three following the outbreak of a fire. Most importantly, no one at the track was harmed, with a swift evacuation ensuring the safety of all teams and personnel.

Despite the limited running,

The elephant in the room

If we’ve learned anything, it’s that a fire in the pit lane can really derail things. 

The first day of testing was brought to a premature end after a fire broke out in the WAE (known previously as Williams Advanced Engineering) garage. It’s thought that the fire was started by a battery taken from the DS Penske driven by rookie Robert Schwartzman during the morning session. Red flags had been brought out by Schwartzman stopping on track in the latter stages of Tuesday morning’s running. 

All teams and personnel were evacuated, with one individual taken to hospital for precautionary checks. Formula E later confirmed that this person was discharged without treatment. 

Wednesday’s testing session has since been called off by Formula E. In a statement released on X, the electric racing series shared: “An investigation into the cause is ongoing, but has already identified an issue which is being addressed.”

Further safety assessments will take place on Wednesday. It’s hoped that on-track action will resume on Thursday, but there is currently little certainty as to whether this will be the case. Final confirmation from Formula E and the FIA is expected to follow on Wednesday. 

Mitch Evans came out on top

Whilst the majority of the session was dominated by Porsche, it was Jaguar’s Mitch Evans who pipped Antonio Felix da Costa to the top of the time sheets. The Kiwi set a time of 1:24.474s, just over a tenth up on Da Costa. Third quickest was Sébastien Buemi in the Jaguar-powered Envision. Also looking strong was Maserati’s Edoardo Mortara, who placed fourth-fastest overall.

With very few changes made to the cars between Season 9 and Season 10 – save for tweaks to its software – it comes as little surprise that the Porsche and Jaguar powertrains remain quick.

However, it’s hard to take much away from the results of the AM session. The mandatory rookie tests mean there are still multiple drivers yet to have any track time, including defending champion Jake Dennis. More insight will be gained if testing is able to get back underway later in the week.

Welcome, Attack Charge

Tuesday’s test session saw the teams trial the new Attack Charge boosters. The fast-charging units sees approximately 4kWh loaded into the Gen3 car’s battery in the space of 30 seconds.

Maserati MSG Racing Formula E Team practicing an Attack Charge
The Maserati team trialling an attack charge.

The Attack Charge technology had initially been planned to debut in Season 9, but the decision was ultimately taken to delay its introduction. Its expected that Attack Charge will make its first in-race appearance next year, and will be made mandatory on a race-by-race basis. It’s yet to be confirmed which races will feature the Attack Charge format.

Taylor Barnard impressed

The young Brit took the seat of McLaren’s Sam Bird for Tuesday morning’s session. Barnard, who enjoyed a terrific run in the later stages of this year’s Formula 3 championship, was quick to impress. The 19-year-old completed 32 laps of the Valencia circuit, ending the session 7th fastest with a lap time of 1:24.929.

Four other rookies took part in Tuesday’s running. F2’s Victor Martins, who drove for Nissan, finished the session 19th fastest, a position ahead of fellow rookie Luca Ghiotto. Zane Maloney drove in Jake Dennis’ stead, finishing 21st with a time of 1:26.080. Robert Schwartzman’s test session came to an early end after he came to a stop in sector three. Schwartzman’s fastest lap time was a 1.25.561.

Nyck de Vries is happy to be back

The 2020/21 Formula E World Champion has returned to the paddock following his stint driving for AlphaTauri in Formula 1. In a press conference on Tuesday De Vries shared his thoughts on being back in the electric racing world.

“It’s nice to be back in a familiar environment,” said De Vries. “I have good memories in Formula E. I’ve spent three seasons, so I know all the people here and it’s nice to be back in a familiar environment.”

Featured Image Credit: Formula E on X 

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