Diriyah FE: De Vries tops opening practice of 2021 season

Mercedes driver Nyck de Vries was comfortably fastest in the first practice session of the new 2021 Formula E season as Andre Lotterer guided Porsche to second

Diriyah FE: De Vries tops opening practice of 2021 season

Both German manufacturers scored maiden podiums on their championship debut in the Diriyah E-Prix last season and set the pace in the first official FE night-time running.

A late effort with the maximum 250kW power sent de Vries straight to the top of the order on a 1m08.693s, the only driver to drop below the 1m09s threshold.

He ended the 45-minute session some 0.588 seconds clear of Lotterer as modifications to the Riyadh Street Circuit layout, a resurfacing and the cooler temperatures paved the way for easily the fastest-ever times recorded at the track - beating Alexander Sims' poletime from last season by 3s.

Lucas di Grassi gave Audi's first in-house powertrain a strong start to life as he ended the Thursday evening session in third place, while Edoardo Mortara guided the Mercedes customer car of Venturi Racing to an impressive fourth.

The Nissan e.dams fight was led by Oliver Rowland in fifth, although 18th-placed team-mate Sebastien Buemi appeared to struggle under braking for the Turn 18 and 19 chicane.

The 2015-16 champion twice hit the bumps in the braking zone to lose the rear of the car and then lock the front tyres.

Early pacesetter Alex Lynn took the Mahindra Racing team to sixth as it debuts a new powertrain built by transmission specialist ZF, while a late flurry of 250kW runs knocked Jaguar Racing's Mitch Evans from second to an eventual seventh.

Reigning champion Antonio Felix da Costa led the DS Techeetah charge for eighth, although he too appeared to struggle to slow his car and twice had to take to the run-off on the exit of Turn 1 - with the team's bespoke brake-by-wire set-up having been a particular area of focus throughout last season.

Envision Virgin Racing incumbent Robin Frijns ran to ninth, while BMW Andretti driver and pre-season testing pacesetter Maximilian Guenther completed the top 10.

Tom Blomqvist's run to 13th marked a strong initial return for NIO 333 after a point-less 2019-20 campaign, while Jean-Eric Vergne peaked at 15th.

Porsche debutant Pascal Wehrlein, set to enter his first race in a year after being dropped by Mahindra for Berlin, ran to 17th.

Jaguar's new signing Sam Bird was 20th fastest as the three rookies rounded out the order: Norman Nato pipping Nick Cassidy and Jake Dennis.

Diriyah E-Prix FP1 results

Pos Driver Team Time
1 Nyck de Vries Mercedes 1m08.693s
2 Andre Lotterer Porsche 1m09.281s
3 Lucas di Grassi Audi 1m09.327s
4 Edoardo Mortara Venturi Racing 1m09.392s
5 Oliver Rowland Nissan e.dams 1m09.419s
6 Alex Lynn Mahindra Racing 1m09.489s
7 Mitch Evans Jaguar Racing 1m09.492s
8 Antonio Felix da Costa DS Techeetah 1m09.503s
9 Robin Frijns Envision Virgin Racing 1m09.552s
10 Maximilian Guenther BMW Andretti 1m09.614s
11 Alexander Sims Mahindra Racing 1m09.703s
12 Stoffel Vandoorne Mercedes 1m09.726s
13 Tom Blomqvist NIO 333 1m09.764s
14 Rene Rast Audi 1m09.779s
15 Jean-Eric Vergne DS Techeetah 1m09.799s
16 Nico Muller Dragon Penske Autosport 1m09.897s
17 Pascal Wehrlein Porsche 1m09.905s
18 Sergio Sette Camara Dragon Penske Autosport 1m10.007s
19 Sebastien Buemi Nissan e.dams 1m10.032s
20 Sam Bird Jaguar Racing 1m10.066s
21 Oliver Turvey NIO 333 1m10.088s
22 Norman Nato Venturi Racing 1m10.124s
23 Nick Cassidy Envision Virgin Racing 1m10.164s
24 Jake Dennis BMW Andretti 1m10.441s
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Series Formula E
Drivers Nyck de Vries
Author Matt Kew
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