Sebastien Buemi topped a frantic early Free Practice One at Monaco that had it’s fair share of incidents that led to one Mahindra and NEXTEV NIO licking its wounds.
While Monaco is a track that drivers usually warm up to, the compressed time-frame of Formula E doesn’t favour the meek. Consequently, Lucas di Grassi looked to have a pointy Audi Abt machine and was attacking the street circuit very aggressively early on whilst team mate Daniel able was complaining of instability.
Likewise, Renault e.Dams were keen to settle on a brake bias for the maximum efficiency throughout the race, however Nicolas Prost was having to dial himself around this set-up, complaining that balance was quite to his liking having missed his braking point at Turn 3.
Nelson Piquet and Mitch Evans were quick from the outset, topping the first two spots on the electric totem pole before Esteban Gutierrez joined the party, showing he was clearly coming to grips with the new Formula since the last round in Mexico.
Sam Bird was next to top the order, with Jose Maria Lopez a few spots down the order in sixth – the Argentine feeling his package – like others – was far from ideal on a circuit cocooned in Armco. Behind Bird was Felix Rosenqvist, the Swede capitalizing on Mahindra’s new-found pace and fully aware that a front row spot would be crucial to finally converting a decent race result. Felix pushed a little too hard though, exiting the track at turn one but emerging unscathed.
However, it was once again Sebastien Buemi – never far from the action – who stole the party to steal top spot from Bird by eight-hundredths of a second. Full marks for showmanship went to Robin Frijns – with a lovely piece of oversteer onto the main straight saw his Andretti and the wall pass like ships in the night.
The session was brought to an ubrupt end with 2 minute remaining when a slowing Oliver Turvey slowed for a yellow flag, leaving no room for a fast approaching Rosenqvist, who launched over the back of the NEXTEV NIO and into the guardrail – bending various components in the process.
Stephane Sarrazin gave home team Venturi GP some hope by finishing third.
Images: Jaguar Racing and FIA Formula E