Three Mercedes-EQ powertrains occupied the top three spots in Free Practice 2, with Nyck de Vries once again heading the way; though a couple of red flags made for a shortened session, hampering the progress of more than a few drivers.
Nyck de Vries (Mercedes-EQ) was the quickest man on track for the second consecutive session, this time in the mid-afternoon Saudi sun - completely different conditions to those the cool, dark evening the drivers faced yesterday. The Dutchman headed home teammate Stoffel Vandoorne by 0.177 seconds with ROKiT Venturi Racing's Edo Mortara winding up third.
Practice 1 topper de Vries set the pace on a 1:10.535 early on, with a 1:08.583 his eventual quickest lap, and about a tenth of-a-second under his best time in yesterday evening's running.
Mid-way through the session with teams busy working through their practice programmes, DRAGON / PENSKE AUTOSPORT's Nico Mueller brought a halt to proceedings, overcooking it into a half-spin and the wall at Turn 7.
"I don't really know what happened, I got a big, big snap in Turn 7 - the left hander," said the Swiss. "Maybe we were a bit optimistic in doing too many laps in a row without cooling down and with the rear tyres getting hot, I couldn't catch it anymore. It's a big compromise for the weekend."
With the pit lane open again and Mueller's PENSKE EV-5 clear, drivers started making a proper go of it with their hot-lap and full-power runs. Their run-time was cut short, though as Robin Frijns (Envision Virgin Racing) became the next man to find the barriers, leaving Sylvain Filippi, the team's Managing Director, head in hands.
De Vries' flyer remained the benchmark as the session drew to an early finish, with Vandoorne, Edo Mortara (ROKiT Venturi Racing), Rowland, Lotterer and Sergio Sette Camara in the DRAGON rounding out the top six.
"It's early days but we're pleased with the performance in FP2," said Mercedes-EQ Team Principal Ian James. "There were two red flags and a lot of people didn't get to do their 250kW laps so we'll take it with a pinch of salt overall. There's the usual suspects to go at up the sharp end in DS TECHEETAH and Nissan e.dams but it's so uber-competitive that anyone on the grid could cause us problems this season."
Voting is still open for FANBOOST ahead of Round 1 until 15 minutes into the race, while voting for Round 2 opens at 19:30 GMT today. DS TECHEETAH's Antonio Felix da Costa heads the way on 19 per cent of the vote ahead of Vandoorne, Lucas di Grassi (Audi Sport ABT Schaeffler), Jake Dennis (BMW i Andretti Motorsport) making use of his mate Lando Norris' social media shoutout in fourth and de Vries on seven per cent of the vote in fifth.
Qualifying will be up next from 16:00 and the 2021 Diriyah E-Prix Round 1 at 20:03 local time and in the meantime, catch up with our Season 7 preview.
Published on 26th February 2021