Last season’s Formula E championship was decided by just a single point, with Nelson Piquet Jr taking overall honours ahead of Sebastien Buemi.
Buemi’s 2015-2016 season has got off to a good start however, with the Swiss driver setting the pace on the first and second days of testing at Donington Park. And it was Sam Bird and Nick Prost who impressed most at the test's closing days.
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Sam Bird flew on the penultimate day of pre-season testing as the great British Summer began to interfere.
The rain held back as testing got underway at midday, with Bird hauling his Virgin-DS Racing car around Donington in a 1:30.451, half a second shy of the Formula E track record set by Daniel Abt at the previous test.
Abt was again towards the top of the timesheets, setting a lap-time 0.3sec shy of that set by Bird, with the duo the only two to complete laps at the 200kw qualifying limit.
Further down the timesheets Loic Duval and Jacques Villeneuve languished in third and fourth, setting a 1:32.022 and 1:32.154 respectively. Villeneuve has settled in well with Formula E, and is excited about his return to single-seater racing: ‘At the end of the day a racer is a racer. And I am a racer. I watched the series last season and thought the racing was awesome and I wanted to be involved’.
That said, the Canadian did manage to beach his VM200-FE-01 once the rain came, binning it on the outside of the Melbourne hairpin. Dragon Racing’s Jerome d’Ambrosio soon followed suit at the Old Hairpin, interrupting what had been another day of consistent running for the team.
Also in the doldrums were Andretti and Trulli, again. Neither teams managed to make it past the pit-lane, with the latter failing to even bring the shutters up on the team garage, and Andretti throwing in the towel on their new-for-2016 powertrain, as confirmed the following morning.
Nico Prost did as his dad’s arch-nemesis did in 1993 to master a wet Donington Park on the final day of pre-season testing.
In truth, Prost got the better of the weather early on to set a time of 1:30.513 in the morning session amidst only drizzle, and led Sebastian Buemi by 0.3sec for a Renault e-dams one-two.
Third and fourth on the timesheets was a story of consistency, with Jerome D’Ambrosio and Bruno Senna completing what has been a relatively trouble-free pre-season for the Dragon Racing and Mahindra Racing teams respectively.
The day’s biggest news lay with Andretti Autosport and Trulli, with the latter making it out on to the track for the first time in testing with Vitantonio Liuzzi behind the wheel of the Motomatica JT-01. Andretti meanwhile reverted to type, selecting to use the season one powertrain after a torrid time in the off-season developing their own. The American outfit did however complete a combined 71 laps as a result.
The afternoon session was met with heavy rain, however that didn’t stop Jean-Eric Vergne topping the final afternoon session with a 1:31.048 for DS Virgin Racing, ahead of Robin Frijns, who was making his Formula E debut, and the Dutchman’s teammate Simona de Silvestro.
Reigning world champion Nelson Piquet Jr could only manage 12th overall for Team China Racing, 3.6s off the pace, and Daniel Abt completed a subdued day for Abt Audi Sport in 13th, on a 1:34.384.
The cars will now be fettled by the teams for the remainder of the week, before being shipped to Beijing ahead of the first race of the season on October 17.