Under gloomy skies in Buenos Aires, Jose Maria Lopez became a ray of sunshine for local fans by topping the timesheets in the opening practice at Puerto Madero.
DS Virgin Racing’s Lopez was one of a handful of drivers to attempt a full power 200kW lap, putting in a fastest lap time of 1:09.431 that left him half a second clear of the pack.
Lopez was followed at the top of the timing screens by Jean-Eric Vergne, who once again harnessed the impressive pace of Renault-powered Techeetah to finish second, albeit half a second down on the Argentine up top. We expect more to come from the Frenchman, however.
Mitch Evans turned in an impressive display for Jaguar, also completing a 200kW lap to finish one-tenth of a second behind Vergne in P3. Teammate Adam Carroll had his full power effort compromised, leaving him a lowly P17 in the sister I-Type car.
Championship leader Sebastien Buemi was fourth for Renault e.dams, with 2016 Buenos Aires winner Sam Bird rounding out the top five. Mahindra’s Felix Rosenqvist was sixth, ending the session with the fastest sector three time, with teammate Nick Heidfeld in eighth behind Nico Prost. Heidfeld had a brush with the wall, but clipping the rear-right tyre guard was not enough to cause too much concern. Lucas di Grassi was ninth for ABT Schaeffler Audi Sport, with NextEV NIO’s Oliver Turvey completing the top 10.
The session was interrupted by two red flag periods, both of which were caused by Antonio Felix da Costa. The first came early on when the Andretti driver lost the back end of his car at T6, causing him to clout the wall. The mechanics have their work cut out for them to get the car rebuilt now. Later in the same session, Felix da Costa then stopped on-track, appearing to suffer a loss of power that warranted another red flag and which then ended the session.