Condensed matter: 2015 preseason testing day two

Day two of preseason testing told a familiar tale. Sebastian Buemi once again finished fastest in the blue and yellow Renault e.dams, setting a new Formula E lap record at Donington Park in the process.

Better weather conditions allowed the teams to make the most of their track time, with the majority of drivers running around between half a second to a second faster than their best times on the opening day. As a result, the gaps between drivers tumbled, with less than a second separating the top nine drivers.

Although testing is not all about outright speed, the pattern being formed this summer is very similar to last year, when Buemi dominated. The French team went on to run away with the teams’ title.

Here’s how the teams fared on Tuesday.

Renault e.dams

Following a strong opening day, Buemi was once again fastest on day two. He set his best time using 200kW qualifying mode. 

The Swiss driver is confident that the team can find more pace in the car over the remaining test days: “It was a bit of a scrappy lap, but it’s difficult to do a perfect lap around here. I think we could go a second quicker, maybe even into the 1m29s.”

“I’m quite happy but we are really only at the start of the new package,” he went on. “Now we need to work on the details of the package. We could do quite a bit on the car and the car is a bit easier to drive; the stability is better, the brakes are better. I see some good potential, we just need to extract it from the car.”

Team mate Nico Prost finished half a second off Buemi’s time, having achieved the third fastest time on day one.

DS Virgin Racing

Sam Bird continued to show strong form following his race win at the end of the season. He finished the day less than half a second behind Buemi.

The Brit knocked around a second off his fastest time from day one, when he set the fourth fastest time and commented on the progress that the team has made in the development of its second-generation car: “Obviously we did plenty of work before this test so now at Donington it’s just a case of fine tuning and refining to make sure everything works 100 per cent for the first race in Beijing.”

“The car is quite a significant change with few gear changes needed but the guys at DS and Virgin have done a fantastic job,” Bird said. “Hopefully we can head into the season with a strong package.”

Bird’s counterpart, Jean-Eric Vergne, finished the day in ninth, just under a second adrift of Buemi.

ABT Schaeffler Audi Sport

The German team stuck with its strategy of running just a single car. Lucas di Grassi handed the reins to Daniel Abt, who set the third fastest time of the day.

The young German explained the team’s approach of focusing on one car at a time: “For the two days we decided to split the running. It helped us gain more consecutive running and work on set-up changes more easily. These past two days we’ve focused on fixing software issues and mechanical issues, and we took a massive step forward from the first day to the second. The car felt good and fast and it feels like we have a good package.”

Mahindra Racing

Once again, the Indian team with Spanish operators looked strong, achieving good pace over a single lap while completing in excess of 50 laps throughout the course of the day.

It the chassis set-up gremlins that dogged the team throughout the first season may have been finally banished. New signing Nick Heidfeld brought his car home just under half a second off the fastest time of the day and only 0.004s off Daniel Abt’s best. Meanwhile Bruno Senna continued his strong running to come home fifth, some 0.819s off the overall pace.

All that running gave fans time to admire the team’s new livery, which bears striking resemblance to another white and orange car driven by a Senna…

Dragon Racing

The American team made steady progress, building on its mid-field running on the opening day to finish seventh and eleventh fastest. This time Loic Duval was the quicker of the team’s two drivers, finishing 0.865s behind Buemi’s fastest time, while Jermone D’Ambrosio lagged his team mate by some 3.905s.

Venturi

The team most in need of a decent spell of luck looked positive on the second day, with Jacques Villeneuve ending the morning session second fastest and Sephane Sarrazin not far behind.

Ultimately the pair would finish the day in eighth and twelfth quickest, with Sarrazin getting the better of the Canadian. Villeneuve suffered several technical problems, including a glitch that caused his car to grind to a halt just seconds after leaving the garage.

Still, the ex-F1 world champion has already stated that he is in Formula E to fight for wins. Over the first two days, he’s showed flashes of his former exceptional pace in a car that looks up to task.

Team Aguri

Another team to run only a single car on the second test day, with former GP2 racer Tom Dillman at the wheel.

Having run two cars on the first day, the team focused its efforts on the Frenchman. He racked up 64 laps (the highest total completed so far at public preseason testing), running both qualifying and race simulations on the way to the tenth fastest lap time overall.

NextEV TCR

As if the first day hadn’t been bad enough, with Piquet only managing three laps, day two only brought more misery for the reigning Formula E champion. Beset by technical issues, the team packed up early and left a quiet garage behind. 

The team’s technical partners are not worried, however. They told Current E that they know from private track testing that the car is plenty fast enough, and that they’re just working through the usual issues experienced when bedding in new powertrains. We’ll see what next week brings.

Andretti

Having not run on the opening day, the American team managed to get Simona de Silvestro on track on the second day but she wasn’t able to set a representative time. With no miles officially completed and yet to confirm a second driver, the team with the shiny blue car needs to pick up the pace in order to have a shot at a season opening podium to go with last year’s silverware.

Trulli

The Italian team failed to complete any running and announced during the morning session that it would be postponing its shakedown until next week.

  1. Sebastien Buemi, Renault e.dams, 1:31.050s (44 laps)
  2. Sam Bird, DS Virgin Racing, 1:31.469s (32)
  3. Daniel Abt, ABT Schaeffler Audi Sport, 1:31.537s (57)
  4. Nick Heidfeld, Mahindra Racing, 1:31.541s (37)
  5. Nicolas Prost, Renault e.dams, 1:31:592s (37)
  6. Bruno Senna, Mahindra Racing, 1:31.869s (39)
  7. Loic Duval, Dragon Racing, 1:31:915s (37)
  8. Stephane Sarrazin, Venturi, 1:32.001s (41)
  9. Jean-Eric Vergne, DS Virgin Racing, 1:32.033s (40)
  10. Tom Dillmann, Team Aguri, 1:32.369s (64)
  11. Jacques Villeneuve, Venturi, 1:33.090s (34)
  12. Jerome D’Ambrosio, Dragon Racing, 1:34.955s (35)
  13. Nelson Piquet, NextEV TCR, no time set (0)
  14. Jarno Trulli, Trulli, no time set (0)
  15. Simona de Silvestro, Andretti, no time set (6)
  16. Oliver Turvey, NextEV TCR, no time set (0)

Tom Spencer

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