Sebastien Buemi set out to get his title fight back on track by banking the fastest lap of today’s first free practice session in Berlin.
With warmer conditions easing the tyre temperature woes that blighted Buemi last time out in Paris, the Renault e.dams racer was able to fire up a late 200kW lap to post a 57.648s lap time just before the 45min session ended.
Buemi was just one of two drivers to complete a full power run, the other being NextEV TCR’s Oliver Turvey, who finished a second slower than the Swiss racer. The remainder of the field stuck with 170kW race mode laps, giving us a good indication of what we might see later today in the race.
Much of FP1 saw Buemi battle with championship rival Lucas di Grassi at the head of the field as they leapfrogged eachother with ever-quicker laps. Di Grassi posted the quickest 170kW race pace time, finishing 1.2s slower than Buemi in third, while Nico Prost followed in P4 in the other Renault.
Sam Bird led DS Virgin Racing’s charge in P5, while team mate Jean-Eric Vergne faded to P13 come the end of the session despite being in the mix early on. Dragon and Venturi both got their drivers into the top 10, with Loic Duval, Mike Conway, Jerome d’Ambrosio and Stephane Sarrazin filling out positions seven to nine. Daniel Abt rounded out the top 10, finishing as the top home driver in FP1.
Many struggled with traffic, as the short lap made for crowded real estate. Robin Frijns was forced to take evasive action at the tight T5 and T6 hairpin when Bruno Senna nudged the wall, while Vergne also locked up at one point and was forced to go straight on. Di Grassi also had a brief pause on track after accidentally hitting the neutral button on his steering wheel but was able to swiftly get going again.
Buemi’s early pace is difficult to fully assess with di Grassi et al yet to fully unleash the pace of their cars. FP2 will provide a better snapshot of who’s got to grips quickest with the Berlin circuit.