Sam Bird ended the opening day of pre-season testing for the 2019/20 FIA Formula E season fastest for Envision Virgin Racing at Valencia.

The Briton left it late to shoot to the top of the timesheets in the closing minutes of the session, posting a 1m15.570s in his Audi e-tron FE06 machine to top the first day of running at Valencia’s Ricardo Tormo Circuit ahead of the upcoming season six.

Bird outpaced new BMW Andretti recruit Maximilian Gunther, who had led the way in the morning session, by 0.093s, while Antonio Felix da Costa was third-quickest and just over a tenth off the pace in his first official outing for reigning champions DS Techeetah.

Jaguar’s Mitch Evans was 0.154s adrift in fourth, ahead of defending champion Jean-Eric Vergne, who had led the way with 30 minutes left on the clock before a rush of late improvements dropped him to fifth.

Next up came the Nissan e.dams pair, with Sebastien Buemi outpacing teammate Oliver Rowland by 0.060s, while Pascal Wehrlein, Robin Frijns and Daniel Abt completed the top 10 for Mahindra, Virgin, and Audi respectively.

Just outside of the top 10 came the second BMW driven by Alexander Sims, who ended the first day of running just half a second off the pace. He was marginally faster than Lucas di Grassi, who set a time good enough for 12th.

GEOX Dragon’s Nico Muller was 13th-fastest, ahead of Andre Lotterer, who was the highest-placed Porsche driver on its first official test outing ahead of its maiden FE campaign.

Behind Edoardo Mortara and Jerome d’Ambrosio, Felipe Massa was the first driver to finish over a second off the pace for Venturi as he wound up 17th, ahead of FE rookie Brendon Hartley and Oliver Turvey, who finally turned in some mileage for the rebranded NIO squad after being sidelined in the morning.

Jaguar’s James Calado was 20th after he caused a red flag in the morning by crashing his I-TYPE 4, with the second Porsche entry of Neel Jani a few tenths further back in 21st.

It was a difficult first day of running for the new Mercedes EQ Formula E squad, as technical issues hampered recently-crowned Formula 2 champion Nick de Vries throughout the morning.

The Dutchman ended up setting a laptime towards the end of running and was two-tenths shy of teammate Stoffel Vandoorne in 23rd. Ma Qing Hua rounded out the order for NIO, some 4.6s off the pace.

 

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