Audi shades Venturi in Mexico practice
Daniel Abt may have topped first practice for the Mexico City ePrix, but it was Team Venturi that turned heads, with Edouardo Mortara hot on Audi’s heels.
Drivers wasted little time heading out on track and the first few laps was predominantly a cleaning exercise – with copious amounts of dust and debris still evident.
The 1.3 mile circuit would be a good indication of which team got their 2018/19 gearing selections right. By having to lock-in their selections at the start of the season, the high top-end speed in Mexico would expose anyone not striking the perfect balance between compromise and aggression.
The Audi’s of Lucas Di Grassi and Daniel Abt immediately began trading times at the top with both the DS Techeetah’s of Andre Lotterer and Jean-Eric Vergne, but it was clear that this weekend would be more than a two-manufacturer race with Sam Bird And Sebastien Buemi soon joining the fray.
Lotterer was first to get into strife at turn one, but was able to avoid the barriers despite numerous spins in the session. Alexander Simms narrowly avoided a similar fate by coming off the brake at the chicane with mili-seconds to spare. Jose Pechito Lopez was another to lose the back-end of his Geox-Dragon and possibly feeling a bit of pressure amid rumours he might be vacating his seat with the team.
Gary Paffett wasn’t as lucky, having grazed the wall in his HWA and unable to continue through the rest of the session, whilst team-mate Stoffel Vandoorne fared better with a brief stint at the top of the timesheets.
Robin Frijns in particular appeared to be applying an extensive amount of rear-brake bias, which while providing a lot of re-gen energy, also made his Envision Virgin very light on entry. The strategy might work well over a single lap, but incredibly risky in a race situation.
Nelson Piquet looked strong in third position and was looking for a strong result this weekend after having only scored one-point this season whilst his teammate Mitch Evans sits sixth in the championship.
Felipe Nasr made a solid debut for Geox-Dragon Racing by circulating just two-tenths of a second outside the top ten, while Pascal Wehrlein had a nightmare session with his Mahindra reacting violently to the change of surfaces.
With twenty minutes remaining, Daniel Abt and Antonio Felix Da Costa recorded the quickest times within one-thousandths of a second. Da Costa would soon pip his compatriot however by being the first driver to break the one-minute barrier. Di Grassi – just two-hundredths in arrears, soon followed the German.
With mere minutes left on the clock, nine drivers were now under the one-minute barrier, but it was Abt who shaded Edouardo Mortara for Venturi, followed by Alexander Simms and Sebastien Buemi.
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