Audi Sport ABT Schaeffler's Lucas di Grassi set the early pace in Rome as drivers got to grips with a new track layout in the Eternal City.
Lucas di Grassi (Audi Sport ABT Schaeffler) set the benchmark time on a 1m38.785s in the opening session of the Rome E-Prix double-header race weekend, heading home Stoffel Vandoorne (Mercedes-EQ) by 0.062 seconds with Envision Virgin Racing's Robin Frijns third fastest.
Practice is the time for teams to work through systems, setups, FANBOOST and ATTACK MODE deployments, launches and energy management profiles to make sure everything’s working as it should be – and corresponds to their tireless simulator work.
This is doubly vital with a new circuit layout as we have here in Rome, with the 19-turn 3.385km Circuito Cittadino dell'EUR seeing a number of amendments since Formula E last visited the city in Season 5.
The circuit's always been a favourite of the drivers and the changes look to have kicked things up a notch further - with Rome's undulations, fast sweeping corners and technical, typically street circuit sections. The jump is no longer, but the drivers have plenty of bumps and an ultra-tricky compression in the Turn 7 braking zone to deal with - which looks certain to catch someone out this weekend as Nico Mueller (DRAGON / PENSKE AUTOSPORT) spectacularly saved himself from demonstrating.
Sergio Sette Camara (DRAGON / PENSKE AUTOSPORT) looked sharp again after an impressive weekend in Diriyah to set the fourth fastest time. Norman Nato (ROKiT Venturi Racing), and Nick Cassidy (Envision Virgin Racing) followed to round out the top six.
Both NIO 333 drivers found themselves in strife, with Tom Blomqvist locking up and hitting the Tecpro barriers at Turn 14, before Oliver Turvey collected Jean-Eric Vergne (DS TECHEETAH) and Maximilian Guenther (BMW i Andretti Motorsport) as the field lined up on the new grid to practice their starts. All involved safely jumped out of their cars.
Voting is still open for FANBOOST until 15 minutes into Round 3, with DS TECHEETAH’s reigning champion Antonio Felix da Costa heading the way on 19 per cent of the vote ahead of Stoffel Vandoorne (Mercedes-EQ) and the Belgian's teammate Nyck de Vries.
Coverage of Free Practice 2 follows at 10:15 local time, with qualifying ahead of the Rome E-Prix Round 3 to come at 12:00 UTC and the race follows at 16:00. In the meantime, catch up with the full Rome E-Prix preview.
Published on 10th April 2021