Formula E

Formula E in Cape Town: Mortara wins 1st practice session in South Africa, serious accident for Buemi

Timo Pape

Timo Pape

Edo Mortara has won the 1st Free Practice of Formula E in Cape Town. In a turbulent first session of the race weekend, the Maserati driver beat Sam Bird in the Jaguar by just under two-tenths of a second. The theme of the session, however, was a heavy impact by Sebastien Buemi, from which he apparently escaped unharmed. A second red-flag interruption was caused by Kelvin van der Linde in the ABT Cupra at his home race in South Africa.

The only practice session on Friday began in bright sunshine punctually at 4 pm German time. Shortly after the start, race director Scot Elkins had full-course yellow rehearsed as usual. The early best time initially came from local hero Kelvin van der Linde in the ABT Cupra, then the two McLaren drivers took the lead. But after just under five minutes, there was the first clatter: Sebastien Buemi hit the side of the wall hard in turn 9 and even lost his rear tire.

His Envision took heavy damage to the right flank, but Buemi was fortunately able to get out uninjured after a short time. He had previously apologized to his team several times over the radio. Race control immediately interrupted the session with red flags to pick up the Swiss with the medical car and clear the accident scene. The time of the half-hour initially continued to run, even as the towing crane drove onto the track.

Scot Elkins radioed after about ten minutes that the session would be extended, so the teams' programs were not significantly affected for the time being. Finally, at 4:18 p.m. (CET), the session resumed. With 18 minutes remaining on the clock, the first good lap times appeared on the time table: Mitch Evans took the lead with 1:11.687 minutes. However, he was undercut a short time later by Jaguar teammate Sam Bird and Max Günther in the Maserati.

Next red flag by local hero van der Linde

By contrast, Lucas di Grassi and Jake Dennis had problems. Neither managed to set a respectable lap time in the first half of the session. Di Grassi reported on the radio that his rear suspension had taken damage. He then parked his Mahindra off-course in the chicane at turn 6. Dennis, on the other hand, stayed in the pits for a long time and was not due to go out until shortly before the end.

In turn 7, van der Linde caused the next incident: the South African apparently bumped into the wall and subsequently lost propulsion, as he radioed to his team. He rolled out on the left side of the track with his ABT Cupra. After intermittent yellow flags, race control was forced to interrupt again with red flags. Van der Linde's car had to be towed away. Time continued to run, however, and race director Elkins announced that practice would not be extended this time.

That left the drivers with just over four minutes to improve. With 45 seconds to go, the first new fastest time came: Edo Mortara took the lead after a repeatedly strong third sector. His teammate Günther was also fast and finished in fourth place. Between the two at this point: the Brits Bird and Dan Ticktum. Sacha Fenestraz was still the fastest in the second sector and improved to 3rd place, with Antonio Felix da Costa in the Porsche sorting himself out behind him. However, no one came close to Mortara's lap time (1:09.700 minutes).

So Maserati left the best impression at the start in South Africa. Envision, on the other hand, has plenty of repair work ahead of it. The 2nd Free Practice for the Cape Town E-Prix starts on Saturday morning at 8:10 a.m. (CET) - to be followed in the livestream and liveticker on

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