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Buemi tops FP1 ahead of inaugural race in Sao Paulo

Envision Racing’s Sebastien Buemi managed to top the timesheets for Formula E’s first visit to Brazil, completing a lap time of 1m12.341s in Free Practice 1, as speeds hit more than 266km/h down the Sambadrome straight.

Sebastien Buemi tops Free Practice 1 in Sao Paulo

Envision Racing’s Sebastien Buemi managed to top the timesheets for Formula E’s first visit to Brazil, completing a lap time of 1m12.341s in Free Practice 1. Two-tenths separated the quickest 17 drivers as they prepare for race day tomorrow in Sao Paulo. 

Buemi, who has shown great speed throughout Season 9 so far and achieved the Julius Baer Pole Position in Diriyah for the second round, remained quickest at the end of the session. However, Buemi and his teammate Nick Cassidy were reprimanded for an indiscretion with their tyre pressures during FP1, along with ABT CUPRA's Robin Frijns. 

READ MORE: The full Sao Paulo preview

Behind Buemi is the Nissan of Sacha Fenestraz, Formula E’s latest polesitter - and holder of Formula E's fastest ever competitive lap. Desperate for redemption, after a last lap tangle with Cassidy in Cape Town took Fenestraz out of the race and lost him a likely first podium result, this early pace is promising for the Nissan team. 

NIO 333’s Dan Ticktum rounded out the top three, just 0.123s off the time of Buemi. With both NIO drivers, including this weekend’s home hero Sergio Sette Camara, getting great results at the two newest circuits on the calendar, they’ll be hoping his inaugural Sao Paulo race will see a repeat of their previous successes. 

Reigning champion Stoffel Vandoorne slotted fourth, with Jaguar TCS Racing’s Mitch Evans in fifth. The NEOM McLaren duo of Rene Rast and Jake Hughes finished sixth and seventh, respectively, with Maximilian Guenther popping his Maserati MSG Racing into eighth. Brazilians Lucas di Grassi (Mahindra Racing) and Sette Camara rounded the top ten.

All 22 drivers quickly locked in laps on the new 2.933km circuit at the Sambadrome. A few brief yellow flags were issued as the grid found the limits of this bumpy track surface, with the likes of DS PENSKE’s Jean-Eric Vergne seen riding the kerbs. 

His teammate, Vandoorne, also had a problem during the session, making contact with the tyre barrier at Turn 1. The low-speed shunt ruled Vandoorne out of the session while he got his front wing changed after it sustained damage, but soon enough, he was back on track. 

He wasn’t the only one who made this mistake, as championship leader TAG Heuer Porsche’s Pascal Wehrlein and Lucas di Grassi also narrowly avoided identical incidents over the 30-minute session. Maserati’s Guenther also suffered a lockup, with his Hankook tyres being put through their paces. 

Robin Frijns of ABT CUPRA returned after fracturing his wrist at the first race of GEN3 in Mexico City. The Dutchman was getting in as much practice as possible and stayed out of trouble. He’ll be hoping to help the ABT CUPRA team get their first championship points this season around this rapid Brazilian circuit. 

Free Practice 2 follows at 07:30 local on Saturday with qualifying from 09:40. Round 6 of Season 9 gets underway from 14:00 local.