Formula E

Formula E in Shanghai: 1st free practice goes to Mitch Evans, bizarre "mass extinction" after 5 minutes!

Timo Pape

Timo Pape

Mitch Evans has won the first free practice session of Formula E at the Shanghai E-Prix. The Jaguar driver beat Andretti driver Norman Nato by 25 thousandths of a second. It was generally very close: all 22 drivers were within six tenths of a second of each other. However, the session will be remembered for an absurd situation in which five cars stopped on the track almost simultaneously.

The first session of the Formula E premiere in Shanghai began punctually at 11 a.m. (CEST) in perfect conditions and cloudless skies. After the obligatory full-course yellow practice at the start, it was the two Envision drivers who set their first lap times in formation. After five minutes, a curious scene unfolded: a total of five cars rolled out onto the track almost simultaneously!

Nyck de Vries came to a halt with his Mahindra on the outside of turn 2, where the attack zone is located. Pascal Wehrlein (Porsche) and Dan Ticktum (ERT) stopped at the end of "snail curve" 3, and a few metres further on - on the straight after turn 4 - their team-mates Antonio Felix da Costa and Sergio Sette Camara also stopped. A completely bizarre scene. A red flag interruption followed because all five cars had to be removed.

Griffiths: "They all look a bit silly"

The reason for this "mass death" is not yet known in detail. "It must be a unit part," explained Andretti team boss Roger Griffiths during the session on World TV. "We know that there was a software update after the Berlin E-Prix and we assume that the problem is related to the battery or the RESS. Perhaps there is a fault in it. The solution would then probably be to revert to the software version from Berlin. That makes us all look a bit silly."

One of those affected, Dan Ticktum, also said: "If several vehicles have braking problems, then it becomes dangerous. And if six or eight cars can't take part in the session, that's also ridiculous." "We'll have to wait and see what they find out, and then they'd probably have to go through the pit lane and update 22 cars," Griffith continued, adding: "We could also have a bit of a problem with the daylight."

Race director Scot Elkins finally announced that the race would continue at 17:48 local time - with 25 minutes left on the clock. All the drivers went straight out onto the track - including those who had previously been affected. In the first few minutes, the two Jaguar drivers Mitch Evans and Nick Cassidy established themselves at the front. Oliver Rowland (Nissan) was third at the halfway point, ahead of the two Porsche drivers. Yellow flags were waved from time to time, but there were no further serious incidents for the time being.

Evans not to be beaten

Eleven minutes before the end - now in the picturesque sunset - Wehrlein set a new best time, but was beaten shortly afterwards by Jean-Eric Vergne. In any case, DS Penske seemed to be coping well: Stoffel Vandoorne lined up fourth behind Cassidy. Evans retook first place with just over five minutes to go, while Jake Hughes braked in Turn 6 and had to swerve into the run-off zone.

In the last few minutes there were still some improvements. Among others, Norman Nato moved up to second place. However, Mitch Evans remained first and won the first free practice session with a lap time of 1:13.215 minutes. Vergne, Hughes and Rowland completed the top 5. The 2nd free practice session in Shanghai will take place at 2:00 a.m. on Friday night (CEST). As always, will be following the session with a livestream.

Results & lap times

Championship standings (drivers & teams)

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