It’s official; Formula E is back, with the second generation of cars and power units hitting the track at the first public test today.
Just six weeks after the inaugural season’s conclusion in Battersea, with eight teams getting out on track to offer our first direct comparison between the latest cars, drivers and motors. The latter was of particular note for those in the pitlane and the grandstands today, with many commenting on the varying notes generated by different teams and their latest power units, following the move away from the standardised units employed last year.
Of course, we must note that with each team working to their own development strategy, side-by-side comparisons are difficult to make at this stage. This is made clear by the six second gap between the fastest and slowest runners today, although inclement weather was also a factor.
Today’s fastest time of 1:32.092s was just over a second slower than the best time set during the penultimate day of pre-season testing last year (1:31.083s), but it is likely that the pace will pick up over the remaining five days.
The reigning Constructors Champions had a fine day of running, with their cars finishing first (Buemi 1:32.095s) and third (Prost 1:32.286s).
Their running was interrupted by a brief rain shower in mid-afternoon but otherwise their running appeared to go to plan. However, their car wasn’t only noted for its out-of-the-box pace but its striking testing livery, which has led to calls on social media for it to remain throughout the coming season.
ABT Schaeffler Audi Sport
Another front runner from last year performed strongly, with S1 title contender Lucas di Grassi achieving a best time of 1:32.158s, as the team’s only runner taking part in the session.
DS Virgin Racing
The newly rebranded team hit the ground running, with Britain’s Sam Bird achieving the fourth best time of the day (1:32.523s) and the newly signed Jean-Eric Vergne – who replaces Jamie Alguersuari due to the Spaniard’s health issues – clocking the eleventh best time of 1:36.704s as he got to grips with his new car after joining from Andretti.
Following the acrimonious split with their title sponsors, Amlin, in the close season, Team Aguri look to be on a mission this season to show that they can challenge for the title this year.
Despite making the decision to run with the S1 motor this year, Salvador Duran recorded the fifth fastest time (1:32.549s) while his new team mate, Frenchman Tom Dillman, put in a strong first stint in a Formula E machine to finish the day in ninth (1:36.329s).
The team began the day by unveiling Nick Heidfeld as their new lead driver for S2 alongside Bruno Senna, with the announcement of the German ex-F1 driver causing a stir amongst both the media and the fans due to its experience and strength.
Mahindra recently announced its partnership with Campos Racing in the development of its new car and motor, which already seems to be producing results. Bruno Senna recorded the sixth best time of the day (1:35.653s), followed by his new team mate Heidfeild in seventh (1:35.700s).
After surprising many with their run to second in the inaugural championship, Dragon’s performance was somewhat underwhelming on the opening test day. Jermone D’Ambrosio achieved the fastest time of 1:36.324s, while Loic Duval could achieve no higher than twelfth and a time of 1:37.987s.
The Monogasque team made headlines this week when it revealed that 1997 Formula 1 World Champion, Jacques Villeneuve, had signed for the 2015/16 season.
Their times today did little to generate similar coverage, but both returning driver Stephane Sarrazin (1:36.361s) and Villeneuve (1:38.176s) steadily put the new car through its paces, achieving tenth and fourteenth respectively.
Reigning Formula E World Champion, Nelson Piquet Jr, had a very quiet day at Donington. The only NEXTEV TCR car to hit the track, the Brazilian could only manage the thirteenth fastest time of the test session (1:38.052s).
Rumours are circulating that his partner from Battersea, Oliver Turvey, will be re-signed by the team for the full season. However the team is yet to confirm this.
Trulli and Andretti
Neither team managed to turn a wheel on the first day of testing, with the Trulli team not arriving until later in the day.
It is expected that both will run their new cars in public for the first time tomorrow.