Saturday, March 2, 2024

Monaco E-Prix: Mitch Evans Tops Opening Free Practice

Mitch Evans started the Monaco E-Prix in perfect fashion, with the São Paulo and Berlin winner having topped Free Practice 1 thanks to a 1:30.361; however, elsewhere there were early issues for Porsche to diagnose.

As the sun rose over the mediterranean at the iconic and legendary Circuit de Monaco, it was rookie Jake Hughes who led the field out onto the circuit to kickstart an action-packed day. For the first time this season every session is taking place on the same day, meaning any mistake could be hugely costly.

It only took a minute for André Lotterer to bring out the first yellow flag of the weekend, with the German having entered the runoff at Mirabeau, before completing a stylish 180° and continuing on his way. Interestingly, with Monaco being perhaps the smoothest track of the season, there wasn’t a huge rush to gather data, with several big-hitters having remained in the pits for the opening handful of minutes.

All four Porsche-powered cars remained in the pits ten minutes into the session, with it having appeared that Lotterer’s lock-up on his out-lap was perhaps an issue for the German manufacturer in general. It certainly wasn’t an ideal scenario for championship leader Pascal Wehrlein, who sits in the lead of the standings by just four points. Evans also weirdly remained in the pits, suggesting that Jaguar may also have their own issues to deal with.

On the track and it was Stoffel Vandoorne who topped the session as it moved into its final twenty minutes, on what was a beautiful morning. It was his team-mate, Jean-Éric Vergne, though, who jumped to the front as the first session of the weekend hit its halfway mark, as all four Porsche-powered cars and Evans returned to the circuit. Vergne was quickly replaced at the top of the timesheets by Sébastian Buemi, who posted a 1:32.367.

Buemi’s initial time at the front was also short-lived, as Oliver Rowland moved to the top as the session entered its final ten minutes, thanks to a 1:32.236. The times suddenly started to tumble, though, with Evans having risen to the top of the timesheets after dipping into the high 1:31s. Evans’ 1:31.703 saw him remain at the front for just a couple of minutes, as Vandoorne came close to entering the 1:30s after posting a 1:31.183, with his DS Penske team-mate just under two-tenths behind.

It was a Stellantis-powertrain 1-2-3-5 as Free Practice 1 entered its final four minutes, suggesting that DS Penske and Maserati MSG Racing are set for a strong weekend at the event that both sides call ‘home’. There was a big moment for Lucas di Grassi with two minutes remaining, as the Brazilian locked-up and span at the opening corner. He unfortunately did clip the wall so damaged his front wing; however, he was fortunate to have not sustained more damage given the speed of the incident.

Di Grassi’s spin resulted in the bulk of the final two minutes being completed under a yellow flag, although, as the chequered flag was waved there was just enough time for Evans to go back to the front on a strong 1:30.361, to go just over a tenth faster than Vandoorne. Maserati’s home weekend started excellently, with Maximilian Günther and Edoardo Mortara finishing the opening session third and fourth, whilst championship leader Wehrlein sat just outside the top ten.

There is little time for the entire field to study what they learnt in the first session of the weekend, as Free Practice 2 gets underway at 08:05 GMT.

Monaco E-Prix Round 9: Free Practice 1 Full Results

POS. NO. DRIVER. NAT. TEAM. TIME/GAP.
1 9 Mitch Evans NZL Jaguar TCS Racing 1:30.361
2 1 Stoffel Vandoorne BEL DS Penske +0.126
3 7 Maximilian Günther DEU Maserati MSG Racing +0.269
4 48 Edoardo Mortara CHE Maserati MSG Racing +0.294
5 25 Jean-Éric Vergne FRA DS Penske +0.303
6 58 René Rast DEU NEOM McLaren Formula E Team +0.320
7 3 Sérgio Sette Câmara BRZ NIO 333 Racing +0.532
8 16 Sébastian Buemi CHE Envision Racing +0.705
9 36 André Lotterer DEU Avalanche Andretti Formula E +0.725
10 10 Sam Bird GBR Jaguar TCS Racing +0.728
11 33 Dan Ticktum GBR NIO 333 Racing +0.922
12 94 Pascal Wehrlein DEU TAG Heuer Porsche Formula E Team +0.961
13 13 António Félix da Costa PRT TAG Heuer Porsche Formula E Team +0.976
14 23 Sacha Fenestraz FRA Nissan Formula E Team +1.137
15 27 Jake Dennis GBR Avalanche Andretti Formula E +1.382
16 8 Oliver Rowland GBR Mahindra Racing +1.438
17 17 Norman Nato FRA Nissan Formula E Team +1.713
18 5 Jake Hughes GBR NEOM McLaren Formula E Team +1.891
19 51 Nico Müller CHE ABT CUPRA Formula E Team +1.919
20 4 Robin Frijns NLD ABT CUPRA Formula E Team +2.849
21 37 Nick Cassidy NZL Envision Racing +2.988
22 11 Lucas di Grassi BRZ Mahindra Racing +3.322
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