Written by Simran Kanthi, Edited by Sasha Macmillen
International motorsport makes a return to India after a decade’s absence - the previous event being the Formula 1 2013 Indian Grand Prix - in the electrifying form of Formula E. With Hyderabad being one of the three new locations Formula E is visiting in its calendar this year, India gets its first taste of the top-notch electric motor sporting series.
The Hyderabad Street Circuit, situated in the heart of the city, is 2.8 km long and consists of 18 turns. It is a fast-flowing track but also has quite a few heavy braking zones which should promote overtaking. The circuit also has its very own hairpin at Turn 3. The circuit was used only once before at the recently concluded Indian Racing League. The teams and drivers have a monumental task preparing for a brand-new circuit with a new GEN3 car which is still in the developmental stage.
If it is not enough for the Indian motorheads to rejoice with the E-Prix, they have a team they can root for! Eight seasons and 103 races later, Mahindra Racing has finally gotten its home race. With 2016-17 Formula E Champion Lucas di Grassi and Oliver Rowland as the line-up, and Jehan Daruvala as the reserve driver, the team will have massive home support throughout the weekend. It is a ‘sort of’ home race for the Jaguar TCS Racing too, a Tata-owned company.
After a dusty Shakedown, a delayed Free Practice 1 saw a much cleaner running of the cars. But within minutes of the session, the championship leader Pascal Wehrlein’s Porsche had a huge hit at Turn 18 damaging both the front and rear wing. On the radio, Wehrlein said that the “throttle got stuck.” He walked out of the car okay but as a procedure, had to be taken to the medical centre.
Furthermore, suspecting a foot injury, he was later taken to the hospital. His teammate Antonio Felix da Costa (who will be a centurion tomorrow) and the two customer team Andretti’s cars of Jake Dennis and Andre Lotterer did not run the session for precautionary measures as Porsche was waiting for the data from Wehrlein’s crash. This meant that the top two teams leading in the teams’ standings did not put in a single lap at the new circuit.
Maserati’s Edoardo Mortara and NIO 333’s Dan Ticktum had a small incident at the hairpin corner when Mortara collided into the back of a slow-moving Ticktum. Sebastien Buemi of Envision Racing put in the fastest lap of FP1 - 1:15:088. The reigning champion Stoffel Vandoorne was the second fastest with teammate Jean-Eric Vergne finishing in seventh place. DS Penske looks to be quick around the circuit and will hope to have a weekend that everyone expected them to have from the beginning of the season. Both the NIO 333 cars find themselves in the top 10 with Sergio Sette Camara at third and Ticktum at eighth. The Jaguars finished fourth and fifth with Sam Bird and Mitch Evans, respectively. Nissan’s Norman Nato and Envision’s Nick Cassidy complete the top 10.