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Sao Paulo E-Prix: Bird tops FP2 as Evans suffers problems

McLaren’s Sam Bird topped the second Formula E practice session ahead of this weekend’s Sao Paulo E-Prix as a late red flag effectively halted proceedings early.

Sam Bird, NEOM McLaren Formula E Team, e-4ORCE 04

Photo by: Andrew Ferraro / Motorsport Images

The Briton’s 1m12.773s put him to the top of the times by almost one tenth from DS Penske’s Stoffel Vandoorne, as less than half a second covered the top 10 drivers.

Championship leader Nick Cassidy found himself at the top of the times after the opening 10 minutes of the session, the Jaguar driver’s 1m13.849s leaving him just 0.003s clear of Abt’s Nico Muller.

It didn’t take long for both to be shuffled down the order, however, as Maserati MSG’s Maximilian Guenther posted a 1m13.807s with Pascal Wehrlein, winner of the season-opening Mexico City E-Prix, slotting into second less than half a tenth behind.

Times began to tumble approaching the halfway mark of the 30-minute session, with Andretti’s Norman Nato pumping in a 1m13.173s, before Wehrlein lowered the benchmark by a further 0.172s.

Reigning Formula E champion Jake Dennis became the first driver to dip below the 1m13s barrier, setting a 1m12.943s with the Briton having stated prior to the event that he believed his Andretti team had got to the bottom of grip issues that plagued him in the last round in Diriyah.

An improvement by 0.071s put Vandoorne fastest inside the final 10 minutes, before Bird moved to the top with a 1m12.773s with more than six minutes remaining.

But a red flag was deployed shortly after when Mahindra’s Edoardo Mortara came to a halt on the exit of Turn 3 having headed into the run-off area at Turn 1.

The session restarted with one minute remaining, allowing drivers to perform instillation laps but with not enough time to set any flying laps.

Oliver Rowland, Nissan Formula E Team, Nissan e-4ORCE 04

Oliver Rowland, Nissan Formula E Team, Nissan e-4ORCE 04

Photo by: Dom Romney / Motorsport Images

It left Nissan's Oliver Rowland third, as Dennis finished the session fourth from Wehrlein, with the Porsche driver’s team-mate Antonio Felix da Costa completing the top six.

Having declared ahead of the Sao Paulo event that he ‘needed a big result soon’ after a less-than ideal start to the season, Mitch Evans suffered a suspected front driveshaft issue in the opening moments of FP2.

The Jaguar driver was able only able to register seven laps during the session, finishing last in the times as team-mate Cassidy claimed 12th.

On Friday evening in FP1, Evans had set the benchmark with a 1m12.555s having usurped Cassidy with his final effort as the pair were separated by just over two tenths.

Mortara enjoyed better luck on Friday after finishing third from ERT’s Dan Ticktum and Wehrlein.

Guenther finished sixth but has been handed a 20-place grid penalty ahead of qualifying later on Saturday after his Maserati MSG team changed the gearbox in his car prior to FP2.

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