Sebastien Buemi kicked off running at the Paris ePrix in the best possible fashion for Renault e.dams by setting the pace for in the opening practice session on Saturday morning.
Under gloomy grey skies, Buemi sliced through the cold Paris air to record a best lap of 1:02.841, edging out title rival Lucas di Grassi at the top of the timesheets as the Swiss driver looks to recover the lead of the drivers’ championship following a non-scoring outing in Long Beach.
With shakedown on Friday cancelled due to the closure of the local roads, FP1 was the first time drivers and teams could get a taste of Paris circuit. At first glance, the snaking layout offers a serious challenge to drivers, thanks to narrow sections, changes in road surfaces and at least one bump that looks more like a ski jump. Buemi, Simona de Silvestro, Ma Qinghua, Bruno Senna, Daniel Abt and Nico Prost all tested the limits of their cars in the braking zones but all were able to continue.
Red flags were hung out when Jerome d’Ambrosio stopped on the run down to T1, with Dragon citing a BMS error (a catch-all phrase that doesn’t reveal much before further analysis).
Sam Bird briefly hit the summit in FP1 before championship leader di Grassi toppled the Brit. Not wishing to be outdone, Buemi bounced back from his earlier error to bank a lap of 1:02.841 in full power mode with four minutes remaining.
Di Grassi settled for P2 while the Venturi of Stephane Sarrazin finished P3 ahead of team mate Mike Conway in P5. Loic Duval split the duo for Dragon, going fourth fastest in the session. Daniel Abt slotted into P6 in the second ABT Schaeffler car, while the Mahindra pairing of Bruno Senna and Nick Heidfeld reached the top 10 in P7 and P9 respectively. DS Virgin Racing’s Bird squeezed into ninth. Defending champion Nelson Piquet rounded out the top 10.