The first day of pre-season testing for Season 10 of Formula E at the Circuit Ricardo Tormo in Valencia was halted after the first of two planned sessions after a battery fire during the day’s lunch break.
The fire began in the garage of battery supplier Williams Advanced Engineering, and was said to have been caused by the battery of Robert Schwartzman’s DS Penske car, which had been removed after the car stopped on-track in the morning session. It was not related to the new fast-charging systems which were being used on-track for the first time ahead of their debut this season.
The fire was quickly extinguished, and one WAE staff member was transported to a local hospital for precautionary checks.
“In a break between practice sessions, a fire was detected in the pitlane and garage area which has been contained,” said Formula E in a statement. “The on-track incident response team acted immediately to contain the incident while the main pit building and garages were quickly evacuated.
“One person has been assessed by medics and has been transported to hospital for precautionary checks.
“Formula E, the FIA and local fire authorities are investigating the cause and will provide a further update in due course.”
Series organizers then followed up with a second statement announcing that the rest of the day’s running had been scrapped while the investigation and cleanup operations are ongoing.
“Following the incident earlier today, the FIA have advised Formula E and all teams that on-track activities have been canceled for the rest of the day.
“This will allow for the area to return to safe working conditions. Further updates will be shared in due course.”
Before the incident, Jaguar TCS Racing’s Mitch Evans was fastest, setting a time of 1m 24.474 late in the morning.
His best was 0.143s ahead of Porsche’s Antonio Felix da Costa, with Season 2 champion Sebastien Buemi third for Envision Racing, a further 0.024s adrift. Mahindra’s Eduardo Mortara made it four different teams in the top four, with Porsche driver Pascal Wehrlein rounding out the top five.
Five rookie stand-ins were in action, as well as full-season debutant Jehan Daruvala – Shwartzman took Stoffel Vandoorne’s place at DS Penske, Zane Maloney deputized for reigning champion Jake Dennis at Andretti Global, Taylor Barnard took new McLaren signing Sam Bird’s seat, while Luca Ghiotto and Victor Martins occupied both Nissans in place of Oliver Rowland and Sacha Fenestraz.
Barnard impressed, going fastest just before the second hour of the three-hour session. He eventually wound up seventh quickest behind Maserati MSG’s Maximilian Gunther.
Nico Muller (Abt Cupra) and Segio Sette Camara (ERT, formerly NIO) were next, with Nick Cassidy rounding out the top 10 in his first outing for Jaguar.