First Practice at Autodromo Hermanos Rodriguez began in clear conditions, but is never a straightforward affair given the shortened grand prix track layout always throws up a series of compromises.
Recent Techeetah convert Esteban Gutierrez, would be thrown into the deep-end with limited testing available and having to acclimatize to practice, qualifying and race in the one-day format. Also having to make adjustments were the trio of Sebastien Buemi, Stephane Sarrazin and Jose Maria Lopez, who all missed shakedown due to WEC commitments at Monza.
Buemi, Sarrazin and Lopez arrived at 3:30am from Madrid and Paris respectively and would all get their first view of the track during first practice; whether the early start would affect their campaign’s throughout the day would remain to be seen.
Lopez would make a slow start for DS Virgin, slotting into 20th early before making steady progress throughout the session. Buemi too would start his Mexico campaign in tenth before jumping to sixth in just a few laps. Lopez would eventually seize top spot – albeit briefly before being usurped by the Techeetah of Jean-Eric Vergne.
The re-profiled turn one saw many drivers stepping out on entry, which would prove crucial in putting the first part of a lap together but also a good marker of who would be brave enough to make a move. Maro Engel found this out even during the full course yellow period – the German investigating the escape road in his Venturi.
Turn 11 also proved tricky, with resurfacing providing little grip for the torque-heavy electric drive-trains. Sam Bird however found the levels “dirtier than yesterday”.
Oliver Turvey – celebrating his 30th birthday – appeared to have opted for a stiff set-up in his NEXTEV NIO. The configuration immediately propelled him to fifth but could prove risky on suspension components should he be required to bounce over the kerbs during the race. Mitch Evans was also making great progress for Jaguar in third place.
WIth drivers beginning to set 200kW laps, Duval was first to hit the top of the time sheets, going quickest and setting the quickest lap ever so far for a Formula E car at Autodromo Hermanos Rodrigue. Rosenqvist however would end up facing backwards at the final chicane attempting the same feat. Piquet would also end up backwards, but at turn 1 – a familiar spot for the Brazilian so far this weekend.
Buemi would eventually take top spot despite being held up on his 200kW lap by Gutierrez – a missed opportunity for the Mexican to follow the reigning champion’s lines at this most tricky of circuits.
Images: FIA Formula E
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