Formula E in Monaco: Mitch Evans sets best time in 1st free practice, Lucas di Grassi crashes
Mitch Evans won the 1st free practice session of Formula E in Monaco. The Jaguar driver undercut Stoffel Vandoorne in the DS shortly before the end, but still fell a good four-tenths of a second short of his own lap record from 2022. The two Maserati driven by Max Günther and Edo Mortara followed behind - the Stellantis powertrains made a strong impression. Incidents were caused by the Porsche cars and Lucas di Grassi, who crashed shortly before the end.
The 1st Free Practice at 7:30 am (CEST) began directly with a small scare moment for Andre Lotterer. Although the German crept down the hill with his Andretti after turn 4, he let himself roll out into the run-off zone of the Mirabeau curve - apparently with locked front wheels. Then came the obligatory full-course yellow phase for practice. After that, the drivers were finally able to give full power. However, they were still a long way from the lap record from the 2022 qualifying final, when Mitch Evans had set a best time of 1:29.839 minutes.
After ten minutes, Stoffel Vandoorne gradually felt his way closer and took the top spot on the timing screen in 1:33.297 minutes. He was followed by the two Maserati drivers Edo Mortara and Max Günther. Porsche, on the other hand, initially had to contend with a problem: All four cars from the works team and the Andretti customer team stayed in the garage in the first third of the session. Obviously a precautionary measure after the early Lotterer incident.
After twelve minutes, at least Antonio Felix da Costa and Pascal Wehrlein took to the track for the first time, followed three minutes later by Jake Dennis and Lotterer. As Porsche announced via Twitter after the session, it was a software problem with the recuperation.
All #Porsche99XElectric cars obviously back on track for #MonacoEPrix FP1.- TAG Heuer Porsche FE Team (@PorscheFormulaE) May 6, 2023
The software issue that temporarily affected the recuperation system has been resolved.#MakeItMatter #PorscheFormulaE pic.twitter.com/n3CidQnfLc
At the halfway point of the session, Jean-Eric Vergne set the fastest lap first, then Evans and Sebastien Buemi. The Mahindra cars also appeared to be quite well set for the conditions in Monaco, with Oliver Rowland taking the lead and Nico Müller in the ABT Cupra customer car sorting himself out just behind the Brit in second. Nissan and McLaren also seemed to cope better than in Berlin two weeks ago. The first impression was that the field at the Monaco E-Prix 2023 would probably be very close together.
Di Grassi hits wall before Saint Devote
After two-thirds of the half-hour session, Evans again climbed into first place. At that point, he was still just under two seconds off his record lap. It wasn't to stay that way for long, however, because now the "push laps" began at full power (350 kW), which were half a second faster right off the bat. Vandoorne and Vergne - both former Monaco winners - formed a DS one-two with five minutes to go, ahead of Mortara, Sacha Fenestraz and Evans.
Now the world championship-leading team Porsche finally spoke up: Wehrlein jumped to 2nd position, with teammate Felix da Costa following right behind. A little later, however, several other drivers were already faster. Mortara took the lead ahead of Vergne, Günther Buemi and Lotterer.
Shortly before the end, there was a crash: Lucas di Grassi's wheels stalled early on when braking before turn 1, he started to skid and hit the barrier on the left. This caused the front left suspension to break. He spun and slid into the run-off zone of "Saint Devote." "The rear completely locked up," he radioed to his team. The incident looked like another technical problem on the M9Electro.
In the final seconds, more fastest times came in: Evans grabbed the session win in 1:30.361 ahead of Vandoorne and Günther. The lap record was thus still a good four-tenths of a second short. The 2nd free practice starts at 9:10 am - also to follow via livestream on e-Formula.news.