Formula E in Mexico: Jake Hughes wins 1st free practice session of the season & crashes afterwards
Jakes Hughes crashed his way to victory in the first free practice session of Formula E in Mexico. Shortly after the McLaren driver set the fastest time, he crashed in turn 1 and the session was stopped five minutes early. Max Günther had previously caused red flags as well.
The first free practice session of the Hankook Mexico City E-Prix started ten minutes late. The reason for this remained unknown.
The first driver to miss the apex of turn 1 and thus had to go wide in the run-off zone was Sergio Sette Camara for ERT. As in every FP1 the full course yellow procedure was practiced shortly after. Just after six minutes the first reasonably serious lap times appeared on the monitor. Robin Frijns created a moment with a lateral stall, while his new Envision team-mate Sebastien Buemi was among the front runners.
After around seven minutes, the first red flag of the season was out: Maximilian Günther lost control of his car in the final right-hander and lightly touched the wall with the left rear. "I broke the suspension," the German Maserati driver said on the radio a little later. He stopped on the start/finish straight and had to be towed away. Race director Scott Elkins therefore had no choice but to stop the session.
RED FLAG ?— Formula E (@FIAFormulaE) January 12, 2024
Maximilian Günther goes wide coming out of the final corner and slides off, clipping the wall and coming to a stop on the start/finish straight.@Hankook_Sport #MexicoCityEPrix pic.twitter.com/8EHslctTaf
No competitive times
The practice time continued to run throughout the red phase, so there were just under 14 minutes left on the clock when the session finally resumed. Consequently, the drivers and teams were now in a hurry to complete their planned programme. After two thirds of the 30-minute session, Buemi held top position ahead of the two Andretti drivers Jake Dennis and Norman Nato. However, all the drivers were still several seconds off their best times from the previous year. Race control then announced that the session would be extended by ten minutes.
The first driver to set a 1:14 lap time was Mitch Evans - still a long way off the track record: Jean-Eric Vergne set the fastest time in the first free practice session in 2023 (1:13.294 minutes), before Jake Dennis set the fastest Formula E lap to date at the Autodromo Hermanos Rodriguez (1:12.595) in the qualifying semi-final. Even though rapid times were still a long way off, some drivers were improving significantly. Sacha Fenestraz caused a similar scene as Günther before, but was able to avoid a crash.
World Champion Dennis snatched the fastest time from Evans in the meantime. His team-mate Nick Cassidy damaged the left side of his front wing in a contact. The next front-runner was Pascal Wehrlein. Eight minutes before the end of the session, the first drivers activated attack mode with 350 kW of power. Jake Hughes took the lead in the McLaren.
Hughes crashes his way to session victory
Just after crossing the finish line, however, he misjudged his braking and crashed into the TecPro barrier of turn 1! The Brit was uninjured in the accident, as McLaren team boss Ian James confirmed a short time later on the TV world feed.
With a damaged front end, his session was over - and with it the first free practice session. After race director Elkins had initially waved the red flags, he announced shortly afterwards that the session would not be resumed, even though there were still around five minutes left on the clock. It would have taken too long to repair the barriers.
Ironically, the first session win of 2024 went to Jake Hughes with a best time of 1:14.364 minutes. Pascal Wehrlein (Porsche) was second ahead of Nico Müller (ABT), Robin Frijns (Envision) and Jake Dennis (Andretti). The second free practice session will take place on Saturday afternoon at 2:30 pm (CET). The race start at the Mexico City E-Prix is scheduled for 9 pm.