Formula E

Formula E in India: Serious Wehrlein accident after problem at Porsche, Buemi wins 1st practice session

Timo Pape

Timo Pape

Sebastien Buemi was the fastest in the 1st free practice session of Formula E in Hyderabad. The topic, however, was a serious accident involving Pascal Wehrlein. The German world championship leader got out uninjured despite hitting the wall hard. As a result, however, all the other three Porsche cars remained in their garages because the problem had a software background. The turbulent practice had started with a 45-minute delay.

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The only free practice on Friday began with a significant delay of 45 minutes. The cause of this was not communicated by Formula E, even the teams were clueless. The series only sent out a tweet saying, "Due to force majeure, FP1 has been postponed to 16:45 local time." Nissan reported a little later that there must have been parts on the track at turn 18. Two more times, race director Scot Elkins radioed to all teams that the session had to be postponed by 15 minutes each time - ultimately to 17:15 local time (12:45 CET)

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Then it finally got underway: in bright sunshine, the drivers finally drove onto the dusty new street circuit. Strictly speaking, the teams had already had half an hour to practice beforehand, because Formula E had exceptionally announced various changes during the shakedown in order to test the LEDs on the new Gen3 car.

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After just two and a half minutes, the next interruption - and a shock for Porsche: World championship leader Pascal Wehrlein spun several times in turn 18 and hit the flank hard into the track barrier. Wehrlein was able to get out under his own power after a few minutes, but had to undergo a medical check. His car, on the other hand, had taken heavy damage. The  race control immediately had red flags waved. After Wehrlein was out of the car, the marshals began the cleanup.

"The gas pedal got stuck," Wehrlein radioed while still in the car. What exactly caused the accident remains to be seen. It is not assumed that Wehrlein made a driving error, because in fact the Porsche did not visibly slow down and crashed into the wall at high speed. Porsche has a lot of work to do with repairs to the Porsche 99X Electric ahead of Free Practice 2.

All Porsche cars affected by fault

As Free Practice continued, race control first had Full Course Yellow tested as usual. At this point, there were already just under 20 minutes left on the clock. It wasn't until halfway through the session that the first serious lap times appeared on the time monitor. Early in front: the four Jaguar cars, Jake Hughes and Dan Ticktum. All Porsche cars, however, remained in the pits - a precautionary measure after the Wehrlein accident!

Jake Dennis in Andretti's customer Porsche was radioed: "This affects all Porsche cars. Pascal's problem was a stuck pedal." Later, Andretti also told him the problem was related to the LEDs. Something had gone wrong with the CAN linkage that put the car into a suspected "powertrain failure mode" in the rear engine. The CAN bus is a central control line that regulates various electronic functions and connects diverse control units with each other. Accordingly, Wehrlein would not have had any braking effect over the rear axle.

Rene Rast, meanwhile, showed a wild drift in turn 3, but was still the fastest man in Hyderabad after 20 minutes. Edo Mortara crashed into the rear of Dan Ticktum on braking and took minor damage to the front. Team-mate Max Günther had to take a shortcut at the chicane, but managed to catch his Maserati - a lot going on in India! In the final minutes, the times continued to fall. Mortara set the first 1:15 lap and moved ahead of Nick Cassidy, Hughes and Nico Müller.

Buemi's best time on the "last groove"

In the final five minutes, the Jaguar cars initially came up trumps again. Sam Bird led ahead of Sebastien Buemi and Mitch Evans. Behind them lined up the two DS drivers Stoffel Vandoorne and Jean-Eric Vergne. While some drivers struggled with the track limits and often had to cut corners, especially in the fast chicane, Sergio Sette Camara set a new best time in the Nio 333.

Quasi as time expired, Bird still improved to second place, followed by Lucas di Grassi at the home race of his Mahindra team. After that, however, Sebastien Buemi still managed to beat Sette Camara's time (1:15.088 minutes). At the last moment, the Swiss thus secured the session victory. Vandoorne was still second ahead of Sette Camara, Bird and Evans.

The 2nd free practice session begins in the night from Friday to Saturday at 3:40 German time. Those who are still or already awake can follow the session at e-Formel.de in the livestream as well as in our Hankook Formula E Liveticker.

Results & Times

overall ranking (drivers & teams)

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