Stoffel Vandoorne set the testing pace as team-mate Nyck de Vries took the flag first in the simulation race around the Circuit Ricardo Tormo.
The first two days of ABB FIA Formula E World Championship testing in Valencia have seen a different driver top the timesheets in every session held so far, with defending champion Nyck de Vries and team-mate Stoffel Vandoorne claiming early bragging rights for Mercedes-EQ.
In mild, sunny conditions, Jaguar TCS Racing’s Sam Bird produced a late flier to head the order in Monday’s openeraround the Circuit Ricardo Tormo, barely 0.1s quicker than 2016/17 title-winner Lucas Di Grassi on the Brazilian’s debut for ROKiT Venturi Racing. It was Mercedes pairing de Vries and Vandoorne who logged the most laps, however, as the leading 17 drivers were blanketed by less than a second.
Third-fastest in the morning, Robin Frijns shot to the top of the classification for Envision Racing on Monday afternoon with a best effort two tenths-of-a-second up on Bird’s earlier benchmark, breaking the 1m27s barrier in the process. Double champion Jean-Éric Vergne and DS TECHEETAH stablemate António Félix da Costa ran the Dutchman closest in second and third respectively.
The day concluded with a qualifying simulation, allowing drivers and teams to get to grips with the new format of Groups and head-to-head ‘knockout’ Duels that will be introduced in 2021/22. Last season’s runner-up Edoardo Mortara (ROKiT Venturi Racing) prevailed in this element of the test.
It was the turn of 2019/20 title-holder da Costa to go quickest this morning, a scant seven thousandths-of-a-second clear of Envision Racing’s Nick Cassidy, with fellow series sophomore Jake Dennis (Avalanche Andretti) and Mahindra Racing new boy Oliver Rowland completing a top four separated by only 0.08s – underscoring Formula E’s famously competitive and unpredictable nature.
Tuesday morning’s session additionally incorporated a simulation race aimed at trialling the series’ new added time rules for Season Eight, to compensate for laps lost due to Full Course Yellow periods or Safety Car interventions. De Vries and Vandoorne ‘disputed’ the lead for the majority of the ‘race’, with the Dutchman ultimately emerging on top.
In the afternoon, Vandoorne lowered the target lap time significantly, ending proceedings with a fastest effort of 1:26.045s that his rivals will now look to beat on the final day of running on Thursday. The Belgian was pushed hard by Mortara – just four hundredths-of-a-second adrift – and Dennis, who spent a while at the summit of the timing screens himself.
De Vries wound up fourth – only a tenth away from the outright pace – with Pascal Wehrlein spearheading the TAG Heuer Porsche charge in fifth. Following a day of media activities, the 22 Formula E protagonists will return to the track for a six-hour session to wrap up the test on Thursday.