Fastest lap in Formula E history: Rene Rast & McLaren top Free Practice 1 in Portland
Rene Rast ended the first Free Practice session of Formula E in Portland quickest. The German in the McLaren pipped Jean-Eric Vergne in the dying seconds of the session, as the Frenchman scored second ahead of Dan Ticktum. Several drivers went off in the fast, sweeping turn 11, with everyone avoiding wall contact.
The first official session of the race weekend began at 02:00 CEST - exactly 24 hours before the race start in Portland. Already in the shakedown, in which exceptionally one lap each at maximum power was allowed, the cars had reached top speeds of up to 274 km/h. The fact that the Portland E-Prix would be very fast had been already expected in advance.
After the obligatory full-course yellow exercise to start the first Free Practice session, the drivers focused on their lap times for the first time. After the first five minutes, the two McLaren drivers lead 1-2 from the rest of the field. Jake Hughes, however, was under investigation already for a suspected technical offense.
Andre Lotterer experienced a moment of shock when he approached a slow Nissan going into turn 11. He was able to swerve out of the way, but had to cross the grass patch on the drivers' left hand side. Sliding, he steered his Andretti back onto the track. Sam Bird and Lucas di Grassi also came dangerously close to each other in the sweeping combination of corners between turns 4 and 7. The Briton in the Jaguar cursed on team radio about his old companion.
Vergne tests the run-off zones
Lap times were in the high 1:10s after just under 15 minutes. The track record with a formula car (0:58.740 minutes) had been set by Carlos Munoz in 2018 with a Dallara DW12 IndyCar - albeit with an original (and faster) chicane in the track layout.
Rene Rast continued to lead at this point. Behind him followed Norman Nato, who made a mistake in the last corner combination and had to turn around, and Robin Frijns. Just in time for half-time, Jake Dennis set a new best time and took the lead. Second-placed Jean-Eric Vergne outbraked himself in turn 1 and shortened the chicane by going straight.
A little later, the Frenchman misjudged his braking another time, similar identical to Nato before him, and left the track at turn 11. With just under ten minutes to go, his DS teammate Stoffel Vandoorne grabbed the lead. The fast right-hand turn 11 proved increasingly challenging: After Lotterer, Nato and Vergne, Dan Ticktum also went off at this point. All drivers came away unscathed.
Rast pips Vergne in final seconds with fastest lap ever
In the final minutes, several drivers were still able to improve. First, Vergne set the fastest lap. With time running out, however, Rast still took the session win away from him - thanks to an absolute best time in Sector 1. His lap was the fastest in Formula E history with an average speed of 166.37 km/h! Ticktum finished third behind Vergne, ahead of Sam Bird and Max Günther. Nico Müller in the ABT Cupra also surprised positively in sixth.
The best Porsche car, on the other hand, was Antonio Felix da Costa in ninth. Pascal Wehrlein had to settle for 18th place. His world championship rivals were 15th (Dennis) and 19th (Nick Cassidy). After the first session, it is not yet possible to predict who will go into the rest of the E-Prix weekend as the favorite.
The second Free Practice session is scheduled for Saturday evening at 19:30 (CEST). As usual, you can follow the session for free in the livestream on e-Formula.news. The race start is scheduled for 2:00 in the night from Saturday to Sunday.