Puebla E-Prix: Two from two in practice for Rowland despite shunt; DS Techeetah not far behind


June 19, 2021

by Topher Smith

Oliver Rowland picked up where he left off in FP1 as he denied the DS Techeetah squad a 1-2 finish with his final flying lap, making it two from two in practice despite a hit into the barrier at turn 11.

Better track conditions greeted the drivers as the tarmac had fully dried, a clear difference from the tricky weather of FP1 earlier in the morning. The drivers ventured onto the circuit looking to get as much data as possible ahead of qualifying, with the exception of Alexander Sims following his mechanical failure earlier in the day, Mahindra having changed the battery and powertrain in his car.

Just like in FP1, reigning champion Antonio Felix da Costa was the first to set a time as he lapped in 1:25.838s, immediately beaten by the Envision Virgin Racing of Nick Cassidy and the Nissan e.dams of FP1 pace setter Oliver Rowland, the Englishman setting the first sub-1:25s lap of the day.

The TAG Heuer Porsche of Pascal Wehrlein went into P2, quarter of a second behind Rowland's benchmark, while Maximilian Günther put his BMW i Andretti third fastest.

The drivers then settled into long runs as they gathered relevant data for the race, with further representative lap times not forthcoming in the middle portion of the session.

With less than half the session left to run, the DS Techeetah duo of da Costa and Jean-Eric Vergne took the team to first and second on the timing screen, while the NIO 333 pairing of Tom Blomqvist and Oliver Turvey went P4 and P6 respectively.

The Dragon / Penske Autosport of Sergio Sette Camara then turned in a good time to go third fastest behind da Costa and Vergne, followed by a flurry of full power fast laps with the ROKiT Venturi Racing of Norman Nato going quickest ahead of Jaguar Racing's Mitch Evans.

The Audi Sport ABT Schaeffler of Lucas di Grassi lapped a tenth slower than Nato's time to go third fastest while Alex Lynn put his Mahindra Racing fourth, with Günther messing up his full power lap with a huge snap of oversteer through the final corner, the German doing very well to prevent his BMW i Andretti spinning.

Rowland then had a scuffle with the barrier as he locked up his Nissan e.dams into turn 11, hitting the TecPro square on sideways and luckily not sustaining any lasting damage.

The Mercedes-Benz EQ of Stoffel Vandoorne then took his full power lap and shot to the top of the times with a 1:23.586s, but the Belgian was there for long as Jake Dennis lapped his BMW i Andretti 0.042s quicker to take P1.

Nyck de Vries then went a slender 0.021s quicker to deny Dennis, but former champion Vergne went even faster by a quarter of a second to de Vries.

In the final flourish of practice, drivers set their last full power laps with da Costa going into P1 to set a provisional DS Techeetah 1-2 ahead of Lynn and the ROKiT Venturi Racing of Edoardo Mortara, but in the end Rowland put his scrape with the barrier behind him and produced one final flyer to steal P1 away from da Costa and complete a practice clean sweep.

de Vries ended the session sixth fastest ahead of Dennis, Evans, Vandoorne and championship leader Robin Frijns.

Image credit: Nissan e.dams

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