Robin Frijns tops the opening session of the 2019-20 Formula E championship.
It was a stop-start first free practice session ahead of the Diriyah E-Prix, with a long red-flag period brought out when Brendon Hartley hit the wall at turn 14.
The Dragon Racing driver lost control of his car after running over the disintegrating track at the corner, which has recently been resurfaced to aid draining.
Frijns jumped to the top of the times with his final lap of the session, managing to set a quick final sector after yellow flags in the sector were cleared.
The Virgin Racing driver set a 1m16.137s lap, more than a second quicker than the next quickest driver.
Nico Mueller took second quickest ahead of the second Virgin of Sam Bird and Mercedes’ Stoffel Vandoorne.
Ma Qing Hua brought out the first red flag of the season when he came to a stop on track within the opening 15 minutes. The NIO driver lost grip and hit the wall, damaging the front and rear of the car. He tried to limp back to the pits but was forced to stop on track.
Despite the early incident, Ma wasn’t last on the timings. That honour went to Mahindra’s Pascal Wehrlein, who suffered multiple technical problems during the opening session.
Wehrlein came to a stop three times, the first coinciding with the Full Course Yellow test in the opening minutes. Every time, he was able to get going under his own power but lost valuable track time. The yellow flags that covered the stranded Mahindra in the final minutes of the session ruined many drivers’ qualifying simulations, with only Frijns managing to get a lap under complete green flag conditions.
Sebastien Buemi topped the times early in the session but dropped down the order after the qualifying runs. He ended FP1 fifth quickest, ahead of Antonio Felix Da Costa and Mitch Evans.
Daniel Abt and Nyck de Vries both ended the session under investigation for speeding in the pit lane. They finished eighth and ninth respectively, with Lucas Di Grassi rounding out the top 10.