The first week of public Formula E testing has concluded, with Renault e.Dams once again staking their claim as the team to beat in the 2016-17 season
Although Renault only topped the timesheets once – defending champion Sébastien Buemi ended day one seven tenths ahead of the field on a 1:30.143s – the French marque appeared on ominous form all week, with Buemi and Nicolas Prost logging a total of five out of a possible six top ten times across the three days.
By comparison, their season two rivals ABT had a quiet few days. Loitering comfortably but not outstandingly within the top ten, the German team’s performance would suggest their ABT Schaeffler FE02 package will again focus on consistent race form over qualifying pace.
The other takeaway from this first test is that many of the midfield teams appear to have closed up over the summer – if not to Renault then certainly to the likes of ABT and DS Virgin.
New entrant Techeetah were perhaps the biggest surprise, with Jean-Éric Vergne finishing fastest on day two after breaking the Formula E lap record around Donington Park, and almost doing the same on Thursday by being the only driver to lap below 1:31s in the wet afternoon conditions.
Swedish debutant Felix Rosenqvist made a strong start to his Formula E career with Mahindra, spending most of day two at the top of the times before being pipped by Vergne. Also showing pace was two-time race winner Jérôme d’Ambrosio in his new Penske-powered Dragon car, and was one of only four other drivers – Buemi, Heidfeld, Abt and Bird – to end each day within the top ten.
For the much-anticipated Jaguar team, this first week was a modest beginning to life in Formula E – the British marque ended day one sixth and ninth with Alex Lynn and Adam Carroll respectively, but managed no more than thirteenth fastest across the remainder of the week.
However, headline-grabbing times were hardly to expected just yet as the team look to bed in their new I-Type 1 powertrain and evaluate drivers for the season ahead. With that in mind, the fact that the team suffered no fatal technical issues and were not left propping up the timesheets hints at real promise for the future – and may even give teams like Venturi and NextEV something to worry about.