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Rachit Thukral

Hyderabad E-Prix: Bird sets the pace for Jaguar in practice

Bird set a time of 1m13.631s with just five minutes remaining in the second practice on Saturday morning, heading a closely-contested contest that saw 18 of the 22 drivers finish within a second of each other.

The laptimes tumbled as the track rubbered in during the 30-minute session, with Bird’s teammate Mitch Evans the first to beat the FP1 benchmark 10 minutes into the running with a 1m14.926s.

But there was a lot more time to be found in the remaining two-thirds of practice, with Nick Cassidy proving just that by breaking the 1m14s barrier just past the halfway mark.

But Cassidy’s time of 1m13.811s in the Envision would only be good enough for third at the end, with both Bird and DS Penske’s Jean-Eric Vergne usurping him in the final part of the session.

Bird finished 0.113s clear of Vergne and a further 0.067s clear of Cassidy, as Jaguar appeared to be the powertrain to beat heading into the inaugural Hyderabad E-Prix qualifying later on Saturday.

Fourth place went to Edoardo Mortara in the Maserati MSG, with Nissan’s Sacha Fenestraz and McLaren driver Rene Rast separated by just 0.001s in fifth and sixth respectively.

Wehrlein recovered from Friday drama to finish seventh, 0.405s down on Bird, with Lucas di Grassi leading the way for home favourite Mahindra Racing in eighth.

The top 10 was rounded off by Sebastien Buemi in the Envision and the NIO 333 entry of Dan Ticktum.

The opening practice on Friday was repeatedly delayed due to a track invasion, with the session not getting underway until 5:15pm local time after having originally been scheduled for 4:30pm. The police is understood to have erroneously opened up a barrier and allowed several road cars onto the circuit, causing a major disruption.

Subsequent delays, according to one source, were caused when marshals at key posts reported a lack of charge on their walkie talkie devices, forcing organisers to rush for replacement batteries.

When the track action did get underway, Wehrlein lost control of the Porsche heading into the final corner, the front-right section of his car smashing heavily into the barriers at the exit of the turn.

The German driver was able to walk out of the crash but had to visit the Apollo Hospital in Hyderabad after practice for precautionary checks, having initially been attended to by the FIA’s medical team.

The incident prompted Porsche to withdraw all remaining cars from practice as a precaution, including the two Andretti-run entries of Jake Dennis and Andre Lotterer.

A thorough examination revealed that the crash was caused because of a Vehicle Control Unit (VCU) dysfunction, the root cause of which is still being investigated.

When the session resumed after a lengthy red flag, the laptimes dropped rapidly as the dusty track slowly rubbered in, with all of the best times set right towards the end of the 30-minute session.

Buemi led the way for Envision with a best effort of 1m15.008s, beating the DS Penske of reigning champion Stoffel Vandoorne by 0.181s. 

Sergio Sette Camara was a surprise third in the NIO 333 car, a further 0.183s back, with Bird fourth-quickest for the Jaguar team using the same powertrain as Buemi’s Envision.

Di Grassi ended up fifth on Mahindra’s home turf, 0.559s off the pace in the M9Electro, while Evans made it three-Jaguar powered cars inside the top six.

FP2 results:


FP1 results:

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