High summer in Santiago greeted the Teams for opening practice and their first opportunity for a look at the track at race speed after shakedown.


While the pesky bumps couldn’t be ironed out, the drivers would enjoy a slightly cleaner track from yesterday and provide officials the chance to run through a session – something not often seen a town not used to motor sport.


Teams also took the opportunity to practice car swaps under the new pit-stop process which rids the requirement of a minimum lap time. The mechanic assisting the driver into the second car is now helmeted for extra safety given time would now be completed in under ten seconds. Not only would precious seconds be gained at the stops, but could now win or lose a race.


Felix Rosenqvist and Lucas di Grassi showed an early turn of speed but it wasn’t long before the Jaguars of Mitch Evans and Nelson Piquet filled first and third spots – continuing their trend in practice so far this season.


In theory the track looks to be long straights interlinked by a series of ninety-degree corners, however drivers soon worked out that no two turns are the same given the uneven and unique surfaces. As such (and as predicted), drivers were soon locking up when pushing the limits.


Season two champ, Sebastien Buemi pushed a little too hard and clouted the wall on the exit – damaging his right-rear suspension in the process. The Swiss driver would be forced to sit out the remainder of the session – losing valuable data in the process.


Alex Lynn and Jose Maria Lopez would then take a turn at the top of the timesheets as the times for the entire field began to drop. Jean-Eric Vergne would soon take over the top spot with ten minutes remaining while newcomer Edoardo Mortara was impressing in the top 5 with huge speed going into the turns.


With four minutes remaining, Maro Engel would pitch his Venturi into the barriers at turn three. No damage was apparent, but it would mean the session would end with no practice starts. DS Virgin’s Sam Bird would sneak in a quick lap to top the order.