08 Aug 20

Da Costa tops Practice 1 timesheets on return to Traditional Berlin Tempelhof Circuit

DS Techeetah’s Antonio Felix da Costa led the way in Practice 1 on Saturday morning as Berlin’s Tempelhof Airport Circuit was returned to its familiar anticlockwise, Traditional configuration.

The Portuguese driver again provided the benchmark for the field to chase with a 1:06.831 set late on, pipping Mahindra Racing’s Jerome D’Ambrosio by 0.084 seconds, though the pair were three tenths-of-a-second clear of the rest.

The iconic old airfield’s concrete apron was washed of rubber after yesterday’s construction work had reinstated the Traditional layout, having been run in reverse – a first in international motorsport – for the initial double-header of this unprecedented nine-day six-race season finale.

Track and air temperatures had risen since the middle of the week as a heatwave swept across Europe. Tyres and batteries would require a little more care from drivers to maintain their ideal operating windows, with the extra strain of dealing with the heat falling squarely to the drivers themselves from the confines of the cockpit.

As is usually the case in practice, much of the field took the bulk of the session as an opportunity to work through their systems, setups, FANBOOST and ATTACK MODE deployments and energy management profiles to make sure everything was working as expected – corresponding to their tireless simulator work. 

The qualifying runs began towards the end of the session with Edo Mortara (ROKiT Venturi Racing) flying to a 1:07.212 - then the fastest time we’d seen around this configuration in four prior appearances on the calendar. Sebastien Buemi’s 1:07.295 was the previous benchmark in qualifying last season.

Mahindra Racing’s Jerome D’Ambrosio was the first to dive into the 1:06 bracket and headed to the top of the timing screens before da Costa arrived on the scene. The DS driver had two-tenths in hand by the end of sector two and did cross the line quicker than D’Ambrosio but the Belgian’s final sector was much tidier – da Costa suffering with traffic and a minor lock-up into the final turn.

Mortara’s earlier flier was good enough for third with Sam Bird (Envision Virgin Racing), Alex Lynn (Mahindra Racing) and Neel Jani (TAG Heuer Porsche) rounding out the top six.

Stoffel Vandoorne (Mercedes-Benz EQ) finished the session in eighth whilst the man tied for second with the Belgian in the standings, Audi Sport ABT Schaeffler’s Lucas di Grassi wound up an untidy 14th – suffering snaps of oversteer on run, which will be fine-tuned by the team ahead of Practice 2.

Practice 2 follows at 11:45 local time with qualifying and Super Pole underway from 14:00. Lights out on Round 8 will be at 19:03 CEST this evening.

Practice 1 | Round 8 | 2020 Berlin E-Prix

Don't miss a minute of Formula E's unprecedented nine-day six-race season six finale from Berlin's Tempelhof Airport