until Abu Dhabi Autonomous Racing League

Formula E

Everything that happened in first session of new Formula E era

by Matt Beer
4 min read

until Abu Dhabi Autonomous Racing League

Formula E’s Gen3 era and 2023 season began with Jean-Eric Vergne fastest for the new DS Penske alliance, and debutant McLaren a very close second with Jake Hughes.

Practice one for the Mexico City opener on Friday afternoon marked the public debut for the faster and lighter Gen3 cars, though the addition of a new chicane on the FE version of the layout made a laptime comparison with last year’s Gen2 machines impossible.

Double champion Vergne ended up fastest in the half-hour session with a 1m13.294s lap that put him just 0.092s clear of Hughes as the new McLaren team created from last year’s champion squad Mercedes made a strong start to life in FE. The gap was a little deceptive, though, as Vergne did not do a lap at full 350kW power and Hughes did.

Nevertheless, Hughes was repeatedly at or near the head of the times in his customer Nissan package, driving visibly more precisely than many of his rivals in a session that illustrated what an entertaining handful the Gen3s are likely to be on qualifying laps.

But Hughes’ McLaren team-mate Rene Rast became the first driver to crash a Gen3 during a race weekend, as he slewed into a half-spin at the final corner and clipped the wall, causing suspension damage.

Mahindra’s Oliver Rowland became the second crasher of the era when he carried too much speed into the new chicane right at the end of the session and caused plenty of damage to his car’s front end by hitting the inside barrier. He managed to get the car back to the pits.

There was also an unexplained accident after the chequered flag for Jaguar’s Mitch Evans. The incident was not shown on the session broadcast. Evans was unhurt, while his car sustained front-end damage in what eye witnesses have described as a head-on trip into the barriers on his in-lap.

A host of other drivers visited the run-off area at the first corner without major drama.

Reliability concerns have dominated the build-up amid controversy over how the Gen3 process has been managed, safety worries over some components and systems, and parts supply delays.

The full 22-car field managed a solid amount of running during first practice, though Sebastien Buemi did park his Envision-run Jaguar in the stadium section for around a minute before managing to make it back to the pits.

Formula E Mexico City E Prix 2023

NIO 333 gave an early hint that predictions of a much stronger season may be correct, as Sergio Sette Camara went third quickest and team-mate Dan Ticktum made an early appearance in second before ending up ninth.

Reigning champion Stoffel Vandoorne was fifth in the second DS Penske entry, behind last year’s Mexico winner Pascal Wehrlein in the leading Porsche.

Teams have another half-hour practice session on Saturday morning before qualifying and the race later in the day.

Practice 1 Results

Pos Name Team Car Gap Next Gap Leader Best Time
1 Jean-Eric Vergne DS Penske DS E-Tense FE23 1m13.294s
2 Jake Hughes NEOM McLaren Nissan e-4ORCE 04 +0.092s +0.092s 1m13.386s
3 Sérgio Sette Câmara NIO 333 Racing NIO 333 ER9 +0.346s +0.438s 1m13.732s
4 Pascal Wehrlein TAG Heuer Porsche Porsche 99X Electric +0.001s +0.439s 1m13.733s
5 Stoffel Vandoorne DS Penske DS E-Tense FE23 +0.108s +0.547s 1m13.841s
6 Edoardo Mortara Maserati MSG Racing Maserati Tipo Folgore +0.002s +0.549s 1m13.843s
7 Mitch Evans Jaguar TCS Racing Jaguar I-TYPE 6 +0.052s +0.601s 1m13.895s
8 Jake Dennis Avalanche Andretti Porsche 99X Electric +0.005s +0.606s 1m13.9s
9 Daniel Ticktum NIO 333 Racing NIO 333 ER9 +0.004s +0.61s 1m13.904s
10 Maximilian Günther Maserati MSG Racing Maserati Tipo Folgore +0.074s +0.684s 1m13.978s
11 René Rast NEOM McLaren Nissan e-4ORCE 04 +0.103s +0.787s 1m14.081s
12 Sam Bird Jaguar TCS Racing Jaguar I-TYPE 6 +0.066s +0.853s 1m14.147s
13 Lucas Di Grassi Mahindra Racing Mahindra M9Electro +0.078s +0.931s 1m14.225s
14 António Félix da Costa TAG Heuer Porsche Porsche 99X Electric +0.134s +1.065s 1m14.359s
15 André Lotterer Avalanche Andretti Porsche 99X Electric +0.1s +1.165s 1m14.459s
16 Nick Cassidy Envision Racing Jaguar I-TYPE 6 +0.312s +1.477s 1m14.771s
17 Sébastien Buemi Envision Racing Jaguar I-TYPE 6 +0.154s +1.631s 1m14.925s
18 Sacha Fenestraz Nissan Nissan e-4ORCE 04 +0.005s +1.636s 1m14.93s
19 Norman Nato Nissan Nissan e-4ORCE 04 +0.077s +1.713s 1m15.007s
20 Nico Müller ABT CUPRA Mahindra M9Electro +0.123s +1.836s 1m15.13s
21 Robin Frijns ABT CUPRA Mahindra M9Electro +0.024s +1.86s 1m15.154s
22 Oliver Rowland Mahindra Racing Mahindra M9Electro +0.236s +2.096s 1m15.39s
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