Photo: Zak Mauger/LAT/Formula E

Sam Bird Paces Opening Formula E Practice in Chile

By Aaron Bearden, Contributing Writer

A familiar name topped the chaotic opening practice session for the inaugural ABB FIA Formula E Championship race in Santiago, Chile.

Sam Bird laid down a lap time of 1:19.439 around the 1.53-mile Parque Forestal Ciudad De Santiago to set the fast time in Free Practice 1 for Saturday’s Antofagasta Minerals Santiago E-Prix.

The DS Virgin Racing veteran slotted in just ahead of early championship leader and Mahindra Racing ace Felix Rosenqvist (1:19.646). Techeetah’s Jean-Eric Vergne (1:19.701) and Andre Lotterer (1:19.824) ended the session in third and fifth, respectively, surrounding fourth-place Mitch Evans (1:19.819) to complete the top five.

Alex Lynn (1:19.907), Jose Maria Lopez (1:20.176), Edoardo Mortara (1:20.265), Oliver Turvey (1:20.309) and Nelson Piquet Jr. (1:20.396) rounded out the top 10.

The bumpy, dusty Chilean street course proved to be a challenge for the Formula E field. Multiple drivers were forced into the runoff area after overshooting one of the circuit’s 12 turns, including Piquet, Rosenqvist and Luca Filippi.

Two contenders also gave their teams extra work after being involved in early crashes.

Season Two champion Sebastien Buemi ended his session early after spinning into the outside wall in Turn 12. The Swiss Renault e.Dams veteran was forced to pull his machine off-track and to a stop on an escape road to prevent further damage.

In the waning moments of the session Maro Engel also made a trip into the outside wall, sailing his No. 5 Venturi Formula E Team machine into the barrier at the exit of Turn 3 after carrying too much speed through the turn.

Engel’s shunt came in the final five minutes of practice and forced the session to an early close, preventing teams from practicing race starts in the closing moments.

The Formula E paddock will return to the Chile street course at 8:25 a.m. ET for final practice.

Santiago E-Prix Free Practice 1 Results

Position Car No. Driver Team Time
1 2 Sam Bird DS Virgin Racing 1:19.439
2 19 Felix Rosenqvist Mahindra Racing 1:19.646
3 25 Jean-Eric Vergne Techeetah 1:19.701
4 20 Mitch Evans Panasonic Jaguar Racing 1:19.819
5 18 Andre Lotterer Techeetah 1:19.824
6 36 Alex Lynn DS Virgin Racing 1:19.907
7 6 Jose Maria Lopez Dragon Racing 1:20.176
8 4 Edoardo Mortaro Venturi Formula E Team 1:20.265
9 16 Oliver Turvey NIO Formula E Team 1:20.309
10 3 Nelson Piquet Jr. Panasonic Jaguar Racing 1:20.396
11 1 Lucas di Grassi Audi Sport ABT Schaeffler 1:20.405
12 66 Daniel Abt Audi Sport ABT Schaeffler 1:20.477
13 9 Sebastien Buemi Renault e.dams 1:20.585
14 8 Nicolas Prost Renault e.dams 1:20.814
15 23 Nick Heidfeld Mahindra Racing 1:20.952
16 7 Jerome d’Ambrosio Dragon Racing 1:21.033
17 68 Luca Filippi NIO Formula E Team 1:21.224
18 5 Maro Engel Venturi Formula E Team 1:21.870
19 27 Tom Blomqvist AS&AD Andretti Formula E 1:23.380
20 28 Antonio Felix da Costa AS&AD Andretti Formula E 1:23.616

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Aaron Bearden is a Contributing Writer for Motorsports Tribune, handling coverage of both the Verizon IndyCar Series and ABB FIA Formula E Championship. A native Hoosier, Bearden has attended races at Indianapolis Motor Speedway since he was three years old. He can be found on social media at @AaronBearden93.