Written by Vyas Ponnuri
Having been touted as the strongest driver pairing on the grid for the upcoming tenth season of Formula E, it was the Jaguar duo of Mitch Evans and Nick Cassidy topping the timesheets during pre-season testing.
Despite a curtailed first day of testing, due to a fire emerging from a battery retrieved from the stricken DS Penske of Robert Shwartzmann, it was a relatively fruitful test overall, as teams accumulated a combined total of 4965 laps, and 16,500 km in mileage around the Circuit Ricardo Tormo, Valencia.
A new addition to testing was the introduction of rookie drivers into the pre-season test this year, with teams mandated to run these drivers for two sessions across the whole test. This was introduced to allow drivers who had never driven of a Formula E car, the chance of testing a Formula E machine, and seeing how they fare when compared to the full-time Formula E drivers.
Among the rookie drivers was Gabriela Jílková, the first woman ever to drive a Formula E car. The Czech racer notched up 46 laps during her test session for TAG Heuer Porsche Racing. In addition, Taylor Barnard put in a barnstorming test for NEOM McLaren, finishing day one seventh quickest.
Mitch Evans racked up the quickest time on the curtailed day one of testing, a time of 1:24.474, a whopping six tenths quicker than Maximilian Günther’s pre-season testing time from last season's pre-season test. In fact, as many as 19 drivers managed to do a lap quicker than the German's time from last season, highlighting the rapid pace and development of the Gen3 Formula E machinery, one year after it's introduction to the sport.
After a day of no running, following an investigation into the ensuing fire in the Formula E paddock on Tuesday, day two kicked off on Thursday, after thorough checks and inspections to ensure if testing could get underway. And when it did, it would be the same driver topping the timesheets once again, with Evans sitting pretty atop the time sheets on Thursday.
Friday's testing, the final day of the pre-season test, kicked off with a 27-lap race simulation for all the drivers, to allow drivers and teams to test systems, and get back into the groove of a race simulation. The race allowed drivers to experience the "Attack Mode" feature, as well as Full Course Yellow and Safety Car situations, and also experience the phenomenon of "Fast Charging"
The 27-lap race was won by the Envision Racing returnee Robin Frijns, with Evans just pushing past Porsche's Antonio Felix Da Costa to finish second in the race.
Speaking of the Portuguese racer, he nearly matched the quickest lap time on Friday's test, the timesheets headed by Season Nine's runner-up, and the new Kiwi at Jaguar, Nick Cassidy, who set a time of 1:24.617 seconds, matched by Da Costa for Porsche.
Cassidy's teammate Evans rounded out the day third quickest, ahead of Frijns' Envision teammate Sebastian Buemi, with Maserati's Max Günther, quickest in three of the past four pre-season tests at Valencia, a solid fifth.
Elsewhere, Frijns ended up sixth on the final day, ahead of Mahindra's Edoardo Mortara, an impressive seventh, considering the Indian manufacturer's struggles last season.
Da Costa's teammate Pascal Wehrlein was eighth, with Andretti's new signing Norman Nato a solid ninth, ahead of the returning Oliver Rowland. Nato's teammate, and season nine champion Jake Dennis was 12th on the leaderboard, but only four tenths off Evans' best time.
The 2023/24 ABB FIA Formula E World Championship begins in Mexico City on Saturday, 13th January. Season 10 will feature new races in Shanghai and Tokyo, with returns to Diriyah, Hyderabad, São Paulo, Berlin, Monaco, Portland, London and a venue in Italy still yet to be announced.