Formula E in Mexico: Vergne wins 1st session of the 2023 season - Evans, Rast & Rowland hit the road
Jean-Eric Vergne has won the 1st free practice session of Formula E in Mexico. The DS Penske driver beat McLaren rookie Jake Hughes by just over a tenth of a second in the first official Gen3 session in history. Third was Sergio Sette Camara in the Nio 333, with Rene Rast and Oliver Rowland each suffering scare moments and damaging their cars.
The first 30-minute session began promptly at 23:30 German time. As expected, there was directly a lot of activity on the track. The fastest driver of the first five minutes was last year's winner Pascal Wehrlein in the Porsche. Then the race organizers rehearsed full-course yellow as usual.
After eight minutes, the two DS Penske drivers stepped on the power pedal and took the lead - Jean-Eric Vergne ahead of champion Stoffel Vandoorne. However, this state of affairs was not to last long, as just moments later Sebastien Buemi climbed into first position ahead of Mitch Evans.
Many times yellow flags were briefly waved in the first few minutes, but there were no major incidents. After a fast lap with a wild stray Vergne set the fastest time again around half time. However, the top position changed at short intervals.
Well in front at this point: the Porsche cars of Jake Dennis, Antonio Felix da Costa and Pascal Wehrlein. The latter braked in turn 1 and had to turn around in the run-off zone. Sam Bird and Dan Ticktum did the same, although the Nio 333 driver did not make a mistake in the process but merely had to avoid his compatriot.
3 accidents shortly before the end
Ten minutes before the end, Evans briefly took over first place, but was quickly inherited by McLaren rookie Jake Hughes. Wehrlein was exactly as fast as the Briton in his Porsche. Five minutes before the end, however, it was Vergne again who lowered the bar. Sergio Sette Camara improved to third place in the Nio 333.
Whoever had hoped for time comparisons between Gen2 and Gen3 was disappointed, meanwhile: due to the new chicane, the lap times in FP1 were still significantly slower than last year. At that time, Wehrlein set a new track record in 1:07.035 minutes, this time Vergne came to a 1:13.294 and was thus about six seconds slower.
Then the first moment of shock: Rene Rast got too far onto the outside lane in the fast right-hand bend "Peraltada" and lost grip. He skidded along the wall and spun. Although he was spared major damage, he at least destroyed his left rear tire. He crossed the track not entirely without risk and turned directly into the pit lane.
Then Oliver Rowland also slid into the TecPro barrier, damaging the front wing of his Mahindra. However, the Briton was able to continue. Mitch Evans also crashed shortly before the end of the session - apparently much more severely than his competitors. Although the impact of the Jaguar driver could not be seen, the destroyed front of his car could be seen when it was towed back to the pits. We do not have any further information on the accident at this time.
In the final minutes, the time table did not change. Jean-Eric Vergne secured the first session win of the Gen3 era ahead of Hughes and Sette Camara. Wehrlein and Vandoorne completed the top 5. The action continues in Mexico with the 2nd free practice session on Saturday at 14:30 German time - to be followed in the livestream on e-Formula.news.