Mahindra’s Oliver Rowland set the pace in the opening practice session in Diriyah for Mahindra, as Nyck de Vries’ title defense got off to an accident-packed start.
Rowland set the fastest time with one of the final laps of the session, a 1:10.559 being the benchmark on an incredibly dusty circuit.
De Vries tapped the wall at Turn 3 in the early stages of the session and damaged the left-rear suspension, the car visibly crabbing as he drove round to find a safe place to park the car. The Dutchman only managed to complete two laps in his Mercedes.
Antonio Felix Da Costa set the second quickest time for DS Techeetah ahead of Andretti’s Jake Dennis, Jean-Eric Vergne in the other DS Techeetah entry, and Mitch Evans in the Jaguar.
Edoardo Mortara was sixth for Venturi ahead of Porsche’s Pascal Wehrlein, and Sebastien Buemi in the Nissan.
The top ten was rounded out by Lucas di Grassi in the other Venturi and Nick Cassidy in the Envision.
Of the rookies in the field, Dan Ticktum was the quickest in the NIO, with the 13th best time in the session, with Dragon’s Antonio Giovinazzi and Andretti’s Oliver Askew ending up 20th and 21st respectively.