Following a rather wet shakedown on Friday, all drivers lined up this morning for their first real test on the challenging 1.953 km short track. The session was soon interrupted as Venturi driver Tom Dillmann stopped on track. At the restart, Nico Prost shot to the top of the timesheet. He was the first driver to break the 1m07s barrier and finished the session fourth with a laptime of 1:06.418. Meanwhile Pierre Gasly, who made his debut in the discipline this weekend replacing Séb Buemi, learned the car and track and ended P17.
As the drivers became more familiar with the New York City track during the second free practice session, the layout was finally dry and drivers were able to check how the conditions would be for qualifying and the race. The session was uneventful with Nico Prost finishing third and Pierre Gasly P15. For Qualifying, Pierre Gasly drew Q1 while team-mate in Q2. The rookie was unable to qualify better than P19 while Nico Prost had to settle with ninth place.
At lights out, both drivers survived lap 1 but contact between the pack meant Nico Prost dropped to P19, while Gasly managed to gain two places. The first half of the race was difficult, however, they both managed to make their way through the field and after 20 laps, they were up to 14th and 15th place. After both drivers came into the pits for their mandatory car swap, they were soon in a good position to fight for points. Before a late safety car has been deployed following a stop for Nick Heidfield, Pierre Gasly was in eighth position and Nico Prost was two places adrift. On the final lap, an issue on Daniel Abt’s car costed him his third place and allowed the drivers to finish the eventful Saturday race in seventh and eighth places respectively.
Renault e.dams will return to the challenging New York City track tomorrow morning and will try their best to remain on top for both championships.
Nico Prost, #8 : "I started the day by being very competitive and fast. But then we had a small brake issue in qualifying which meant we started from ninth, way too far back I think. I made a good start but I was hit from the back by Sarrazin so I ended up last. Then I moved up through the pack but I was hit again so I lost another five places. With all that happened in the race, P8 is a good result and at least it’s some points but we could have done better and I hope we will do more tomorrow."
Pierre Gasly, #9 : "It was an exciting and busy day with a lot of things to learn. The race was a bit crazy with contact amongst the field but I enjoyed it. As the track is very narrow, it looks like you’re driving faster than you are. I’ve learned a lot today, I think we had good pace so hopefully we will be ready to fight for more tomorrow. It’s always nice to discover a new car and a new series."
Alain Prost, co-owner of the team : "It was a bit of a weird day. We had a lot of pressure on our shoulders with the absence of Séb and with Pierre learning a race weekend in this discipline. Nico had really good pace this morning while Pierre was adapting to the car. During qualifying, Nico was unable to maintain good pace, but he was not the only one as title contender Di Grassi struggled. Meanwhile Pierre made a mistake and touched the wall. The race was very lively, especially at the start when Nico received contact. However, we managed to finish well with lots of overtaking especially after Daniel Abt’s error on the final lap. We lost only a few points in the Teams’ Championship so we are satisfied with the result. But we should be able to fight for more tomorrow."
Jean-Paul Driot, co-owner of the team : "Today was difficult considering our qualifying results. We had a good car during the first two practice sessions but we started the race from the back. Both drivers had a really good race to progress through the field. Nico was on the receiving end of contact a number of times but it was not his fault and he finished eighth. Gasly started P19 and finished his first ever Formula E race in seventh so that was an impressive result. In the end, we lost only two points in the Teams’ Championship and Séb remains on top with a 20 point gap to Lucas Di Grassi. We should be even more efficient tomorrow and we hope to be back at the front."