Wehrlein and Porsche set early pace in Rome

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Wehrlein and Porsche set early pace in Rome

With the sun beating down on the Rome circuit, the TAG Heuer Porsche of Pascal Wehrlein went quickest in the first Free Practice session of the double-header weekend. The Jaguar TCS Racing driver Sam Bird rounded out FP1 in second, with the Maserati MSG Racing of Edoardo Mortara completing the top three.

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As the session went green on Friday evening, the temperatures at the circuit reached a sweltering 32°C. The track was in a cleaner state than you’d come to expect for FP1, after 11 rookies had a special 30-minute session in the afternoon to try their luck behind the wheel. Maserati MSG Racing’s Felipe Drugovich was the individual who topped that session, with a time of 1m43.736s.

RESULTS: The full FP1 classification

Championship leader, Jake Dennis (Avalanche Andretti) had some early concerns about his steering column - not what you need at the start of the race weekend. As a result, the Brit spent most of the valuable session in the garage, as his Andretti squad tried their best to fix his X99 Electric GEN3 - with the Brit complaining of poor confidence in the rear axel. Dennis, who is looking to set a new Formula E record for the most podiums in a single season this weekend, then went on to be under investigation for overspeed under the practice Full Course Yellow. He eventually got back out on track, after his issues, and finished the session 18th.

The last team out of their garages were Mahindra Racing. The Indian team is having a challenging season, but Lucas di Grassi got them back in the points in Portland. Mahindra and customer ABT CUPRA cars both had a small software issue in the rookie test, which prevented their two respective drivers from setting many laps. It appears that this issue continued and plagued their FP1, with all four drivers with Mahindra power units spending time in their pit boxes at points. 

Season 6 champ Antonio Felix da Costa (TAG Heuer Porsche) spun at Turn 7, bringing out a brief yellow flag. A little while later his old teammate, Jean-Eric Vergne (DS PENSKE) also found the limits of the street circuit as he too pirouetted, but at Turn 14 when on a push lap. 

With five minutes to go, it was a Jaguar TCS Racing first and second, with Mitch Evans on top and Sam Bird two-tenths behind. Evans is a pro around this Rome circuit, winning both races of the double header last year. The Kiwi is once again in championship contention and will be hoping he can do the double again and boost his points total after these two Italian rounds. 

TAG Heuer Porsche’s Pascal finished the session on top, slotting in a time of 1m39.632s in the final moments of the session. An altercation between Evans and the Mahindra of Roberto Merhi also occurred at the end of the session, as the Mahindra driver impeded Evans on his final flying lap. The Kiwi was keen to let his feelings known, sending the Spanish driver a hand gesture once he eventually got past. Evans was also under investigation for a technical infringement at the end of the practice. 

Envision Racing’s Nick Cassidy had an off at the end of the session, as well as the NIO 333 of Dan Tickum and ABT CUPRA’s Robin Frijns.

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