Host of female racers made history driving a FIA Formula E Championship car or any race car in Saudi Arabia as Envision Virgin’s Sam Bird ended the test on top.
All of the race teams stayed back for one day of in-season test in Riyadh post the Ad Diriyah ePrix which was specially done to give female racers a chance to drive the Formula E car in the country which has only removed the ban on female to drive cars.
Only Audi and Jaguar opted not to field any female racers with Nico Mueller and Mitch Evans on driving duties while several of the teams had the female racers sharing the car with the regular and the team’s reserve drivers.
The two-part session was topped by Envision Virgin’s Bird with a 1m09.668s lap time ahead of DS Techeetah’s Jean-Eric Vergne (1m09.781s) and Nissan e.Dams’ Oliver Rowland (1m10.264s), who was sharing the car with Carmen Jorda.
HWA Racelab’s Stoffel Vandoorne (1m10.283s) finished fourth but caused a red flag towards the end of the day as Jaguar’s Evans (1m10.303s) was fifth ahead of Mueller (1m10.432s) and morning pace-setter Envision Virgin’s Robin Frijns (1m10.544s).
In eighth was Venturi’s Edoardo Mortara (1m11.005s) with HWA Racelab’s Gary Paffet ninth and the second of the female drivers Pipa Mann, sharing the car with Jose Maria Lopez for Geox Dragon rounded the Top 10 with a 1m11.550s lap.
Just outside the Top 10 was BMW Andretti’s Alexander Sims (1m11.748s) from Mahindra’s Jerome D’Ambrosio (1m11.874s) followed by Venturi’s Felipe Massa (1m11.896s) and his teammate Simona de Silvestro (1m12.048s) – the leading female to set a quick lap time.
The other Nissan e.Dams shared between Sebastien Buemi and Rowland was 15th (1m12.206s) with the second quickest female being DS Techeetah’s Tatiana Calderon (1m12.229s) in 16th ahead of NIO’s pair of Oliver Turvey and Tom Dillmann (1m12.239s).
Just behind the regular NIO drivers was Jamie Chadwick (1m13.042s) in the same car in 18th with BMW Andretti’s Beitske Visser (1m13.363s) sharing with Sims in the afternoon session ended up 19th from Mahindra’s Katherine Legge (1m13.437s).
Geox Dragon’s Maximilian Gunther (1m14969s) ended up 20th from Mann (1m19.397s), HWA Racelab’s Carrier Schreiner (1m19.558s) and Envision Virgin’s Amna Al-Qubaisi (1m25.128s) – the latter not getting any run in the afternoon after damage to the car.
The whole day was disrupted multiple times due to red flag. Apart from the late one for Vandoorne, the afternoon session had one for the car shared between Turvey and Dillmann, while the morning session saw the flag for Al-Qubaisi, Gunther and Muelluer.
Also, looking at lap times of several drivers including the female ones, it doesn’t seem like many completed a 250kW run with majority doing a 200kW run to set their best times – the timing screen did not clarify what energy was used to set the quick time.