Drugovich tops Rome E-Prix rookie practice

Drugovich tops Rome E-Prix rookie practice

Formula 2 World Champion Felipe Drugovich outperformed Sheldon van der Linde and Luca Ghiotto in the Rome E-Prix rookie session putting Maserati on top.

Eleven drivers had a great chance to test out Gen3 cars at the Circuito Cittadino dell’EUR during the special rookie practice session. This is crucial for drivers aiming for a Formula E spot in 2024.

Similar to the test in Berlin, which included 23 drivers, each team was allowed to field one driver who had never competed in the all-electric series.

Ten of the 11 drivers competed in the latest rookie test in Berlin with Yann Ehrlacher, a DS Penske driver being the only exception. Having been a touring car driver for the majority of his career, his first laps in the Italian capital were surprisingly his first in single-seater machinery.

The 30-minute practice session got underway with a 1:48.092 from Maserati’s reigning F2 World Champion and Aston Martin F1 reserve driver Drugovich.

It’s alarming that Adrien Tambay with ABT CUPRA which is Mahindra’s customer team, and F2 driver Jehan Daruvala with Mahindra both finished an out-lap before heading back to the pits. Porsche driver Yifei Ye also experienced an early moment as he ran on at Turn 7 after clumsily hitting a bump triggering a lock-up.

Reigning DTM Champion Van der Linde replaced Drugovich at the top of the timesheets as the session’s second half got underway after producing a 1:46.466. Van der Linde who is Robin Frijns’ replacement as the Dutchman was recovering from a hand injury earlier in the season is Kelvin van der Linde’s brother.

The times fell in the last 10 minutes, indicating that the circuit was certainly cleaning up quickly. With nine minutes left, Van der Linde improved his best time by two seconds while Ehrlacher closed the gap to the South African in second place by seven tenths.

With seven minutes left, Drugovich was in third place, slightly over a second behind Van der Linde, as Jack Aitken came in last for Envision 3.977 seconds behind the leader. As the session came to a close, Daruvala and Tambay were still missing in action indicating that there may be yet another issue with the Mahindra-powered cars.

Van der Linde upped his time once more with three minutes left, posting a 1:44.048 while Charlie Eastwood from McLaren moved up to second. The fact that Eastwood’s timing was only slightly slower than Van der Linde’s was extremely outstanding.

Daniil Kvyat briefly raised the yellow flag as Ehrlacher, Van der Linde, and Eastwood were all setting records laps. The former Formula 1 driver, who was able to reverse back onto the course in a similar manner to Ye earlier in the practice, also locked up at Turn 7.

By the time the chequered flag was raised, Drugovich had established himself as the first rookie to go into the high 1:43s, confirming a late change at the top. The Brazilian recorded a 1:43.736 to win the session three tenths faster than Van der Linde who took second place.

Nissan’s third-place finisher, ex-F2 driver Ghiotto was only three hundredths of a second faster than Eastwood who finished fourth. Ehrlacher was fifth, six tenths of a second behind Drugovich and Andretti’s Zane Maloney was seventh.

Kvyat finished the session in seventh place after his late lock-up, two tenths clear of Ye in eighth. Daruvala and Tambay didn’t make another run after pitting, therefore Aitken was the last driver to finish the session.

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