Di Grassi leads tumultuous opening practice in Zurich
Lucas di Grassi led the way for Audi ABT Schaeffler in the first official motor racing session in Switzerland for more than 60 years, as the opposition struggled to get to grips with the makeshift Zurich circuit.
Di Grassi ran a full second quicker than Mitch Evans in the Panasonic Jaguar Racing entry, but was the only driver to complete a 200kW lap. Audi ran first practice with considerably less wing than other runners, presumably to reduce drag and increase energy consumption.
Series leader Jean-Eric Vergne went into the weekend saying that he wouldn’t be taking any risks in protecting his championship lead, but could be forgiven for a minor off up the escape road in attempting to find the limit in preparations for qualifying.
Likewise, Felix Rosenqvist and Antonio Felix Da Costa were also pushing the limits. Rosenqvist struggled to keep an even contact patch into the braking area due to the numerous manholes populating the area and Da Costa’s Andretti scraping the wall, but would escape with minimal damage.
Sam Bird wasn’t as lucky however after getting too close to Jose Maria Lopez under brakes. With Lopez attempting to get out of the way, Bird was caught out by the early braking Lopez and lost control on over the bumps on the main straight, collected the barriers and damaged his rear suspension in the process.
“He said he was doing an energy save”, said Bird after confronting Lopez after practice.
“He ruined the lap before. The car feels good. The guys will get the car fixed. The car feels pretty strong, it was just a scrappy session.”
Bird wasn’t alone, with Oliver Turvey also damaging the rear suspension by collecting barriers on exit.
The Zurich track additionally features overhanging trees in key sectors and much like Battersea Park, could play a factor with the natural light. A late race start will make it interesting in terms of low-light visibility.
Image: Michelin Motorsport
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