Formula E pre-season testing: Venturi's Mortara tops damp opening session

Venturi Racing driver Edoardo Mortara topped the morning session of the first Formula E pre-season test day, which was interrupted by two red-flag stoppages

Heavy Friday night thunderstorms were followed by intermittent showers during the three-hour Saturday morning session at a damp Circuit Ricardo Tormo in Valencia.

That meant Mortara's late benchmark of 1m18.148s was over three seconds slower than the fastest time of last year, then set by BMW Andretti driver Maximilian Guenther.

This is despite the absence of the artificial chicane on the main straight for 2020, which has been removed to lower the number of expensive crashes at the site in recent campaigns.

PLUS: How Formula E's pre-season test venue provides confusion and clarity

Despite continuing with the DS Techeetah car from last season, with the team's new machine set for an April debut, defending champion Antonio Felix da Costa set the initial pace on a 1m20.417s ahead of team-mate Jean-Eric Vergne.

A red flag was called just 20 minutes into the session as Sergio Sette Camara, driving for the rebranded Dragon / Penske Autosport squad, ran into the gravel at Turn 6.

A second pause was then required with 50 minutes to go after Nissan e.dams racer Sebastien Buemi dropped his car off the track at Turn 3 and needed recovering.

Jaguar driver Mitch Evans suffered the most noticeable incident, crashing at Turn 6 after the throttle stuck open right at the end of the morning running.

There was a late flurry of session-best times before Mortara topped the running order ahead of da Costa, who improved to end up just 0.031s shy.

The all-new powertrain of the NIO 333 car allowed Oliver Turvey to run third quickest ahead of new Mahindra Racing signing Alexander Sims and then Sette Camara.

Envision Virgin Racing's Nick Cassidy - who comfortably topped the Marrakech rookie test for the team in March - was sixth ahead of Audi factory driver Rene Rast and Robin Frijns.

Briton Jake Dennis had led the way for BMW Andretti in the final hour only to be shuffled back to ninth ahead of Jaguar's Sam Bird.

Oliver Rowland in 11th, along with Vergne and Alex Lynn, were the first drivers to have lap times scrapped because of new track limits introduced for 2020 at Turns 1 and 10.

Lucas di Grassi ran to 12th for Audi, edging out Porsche recruit Pascal Wehrlein and Mortara's team-mate Norman Nato.

Test times

Pos Driver Team Car Gap Laps
1 Edoardo Mortara Venturi Mercedes 1m18.148s 43
2 Antonio Felix da Costa DS Techeetah DS 0.031s 40
3 Oliver Turvey NIO NIO 0.177s 39
4 Alexander Sims Mahindra Mahindra 0.207s 47
5 Sergio Sette Camara Dragon Penske 0.244s 26
6 Nick Cassidy Virgin Audi 0.245s 40
7 Rene Rast Audi Audi 0.246s 42
8 Robin Frijns Virgin Audi 0.276s 38
9 Jake Dennis BMW BMW 0.309s 45
10 Sam Bird Jaguar Jaguar 0.314s 31
11 Oliver Rowland Nissan e.Dams Nissan 0.395s 31
12 Lucas di Grassi Audi Audi 0.432s 40
13 Pascal Wehrlein Porsche Porsche 0.563s 41
14 Norman Nato Venturi Mercedes 0.627s 44
15 Alex Lynn Mahindra Mahindra 0.638s 35
16 Stoffel Vandoorne Mercedes Mercedes 0.639s 44
17 Sebastien Buemi Nissan e.Dams Nissan 0.689s 27
18 Jean-Eric Vergne DS Techeetah DS 0.723s 37
19 Nyck de Vries Mercedes Mercedes 0.757s 42
20 Maximilian Guenther BMW BMW 1.033s 42
21 Tom Blomqvist NIO NIO 1.582s 26
22 Nico Muller Dragon Penske 1.621s 39
23 Andre Lotterer Porsche Porsche 1.983s 41
24 Mitch Evans Jaguar Jaguar 2.170s 20
Previous article Rebranded Dragon / Penske Formula E team reveals striking new livery
Next article Formula E can supply F1 with drivers and engineers - James