Sam Bird topped the second of another scrappy practice session in Argentina today.
The Brit has history in Buenos Aires, of course. It was the site of arguably his feistiest win in motorsport last year when he fended off charges from Antonio Felix da Costa and Sebastien Buemi in an unweildy, overweight car. Yet we still don’t really know who has the pace for the rest of race day.
The early pace in the second free practice session was set by the usual pretenders: Lucas di Grassi and Sebastien Buemi. They were just two of a number of drivers to get out early for a full power run, with less than one-tenth of a second separating the pair. The rest of the pack was closely-knit, with less than seven-tenths separating the top 10. A disrupted FP1 meant many were in a hurry to make use of all the time of this session.
Mahindra’s Felix Rosenqvist decided to put in his 200kW lap midway through the session and was fortunate to complete it. Despite facing traffic in the form of Buemi and a yellow flag, thrown after Loic Duval lost a tyre when a wheel nut came loose, Rosenqvist was able to get his lap in before the session was halted altogether. His advantage at the top pf the timesheets was a mere 0.097 of a second.
With Duval’s tyre and car recovered, the session eventually resumed with 10 minutes left on the clock, giving time for the field to cook up another set of 200kW laps. Di Grassi pushed to find the limit. He found it alright and vaulted neatly over it to end the session in the wall, damaging the front end and rear of his car. Yellow flags forced most of the field to back offbut Bird had managed to sneak through and set a new fastest lap, 0.165 seconds faster than Rosenqvist.
Improvements were few and far between through the remainder of the session as drivers backed off for the yellow flag, leaving Bird at the top ahead of Rosenqvist and di Grassi, with Buemi and Robin Frijns rounding out the top five positions. Nelson Piquet Jr. and Oliver Turvey continued to show off NextEV’s impressive one-lap pace, finishing sixth and seventh, while Jean-Eric Vergne and Nico Prost followed in P8 and P9. Maro Engel wrapped up the top 10 for Venturi.