The day after the 2018/19 season opener in Ad Diriyah, Saudi Arabia, the ABB FIA Formula E Championship welcomed fresh as well as familiar faces for a test sessionon the Ad Diriyah circuit. All 11 Formula E teams took part in the test, with the line-up including nine female drivers running alongside the series’ current crop.
Fastest of the newcomers was Audi Sport Abt Schaeffler’s Nico Mueller, who posted a 1m10.432s lap time behind the wheel of the Audi e-tron FE05. Former Formula E driver Simona de Silvestro rounded out the top 10 fastest drivers of the afternoon session by posting a 1m12.048s lap. The Swiss driver, who drove for Andretti Autosport in the inaugural Formula E season, returned to the series for the first time since 2015.
IndyCar veteran Mann lamented not getting much time in the car in her test run with the GEOX Dragon team, but still relished the opportunity:
Fastest overall on the day was Envision Virgin Racing’s Sam Bird, who posted a time of 1m09.668s in the afternoon session with DS Techeetah’s Jean-Eric Vergne close behind at 1m09.781. Nissan e.dams rookie driver Oliver Rowland posted the third-fastest time of 1m10.264, with Nissan e.dams’ Sebastien Buemi and DS Techeetah’s Tatiana Calderon following.
“It’s fun being on the streets but you need to be very precise – you go a bit offline and you hit the wall quite easily,” said Colombia’s Calderon, who is an official test driver for the Alfa Romeo Sauber Formula 1 team. “To be testing here in Saudi Arabia is incredible. I think the step they’ve taken to allow women to drive and to encourage more women to get into motorsport with such great teams is a really great initiative — I’m really happy to be a part of it and I hope that it leads to more opportunities and leads to more women in motorsport.”
Present on the day was the FIA’s Women in Motorsport Commission President Michele Mouton who watched the test trackside. “It is great to see so many strong female drivers testing the new Formula E car. I strongly believe that in order to see the potential of the best women drivers in the world, they need to get a chance to drive with the best teams, which is exactly what is happening here.
“Through our FIA Women in Motorsport monitoring and assessment programs, we know that some of the best are here today. I hope that this initiative with Formula E can continue in the future and I can’t wait to get all the feedback from the drivers and teams.”