Norman Nato set the pace in free practice 1 by topping the opening session of the weekend, at the London E-Prix double-header.

Nato was the driver to beat in the opening session of this weekend’s 2022/23 Formula E season finale, after setting a 1m 10.765s. The Nissan driver topped the session ahead of Sébastian Buemi and team-mate Sacha Fenestraz, who turned 24 years old on Friday.

As the opening session of the season finale in the British capital got underway, it was Britain’s Jake Hughes who led the field out at the unique indoor/outdoor circuit at the ExCeL Centre.

Unsurprisingly, given the summer the United Kingdom is having, the track temperature was nowhere near the 60°C seen almost two weeks ago in Rome. The circuit on Friday evening was a comfortable 27°C, whilst the air temperature was 22°C.

The weather was very overcast, with some drivers having reported of a few raindrops in the opening minutes. Rain is forecast throughout the weekend. A yellow flag was instantly required after Hughes locked-up and went straight on at Turn 10, before safely rejoining the circuit.

A couple of minutes later, and Maximilian Günther also locked-up and ran off at Turn 10, with that clearly set to be a challenging corner.

Buemi sat at the top of the timesheets after the opening 10 minutes on a 1m 11.765s, over three-tenths faster than Mitch Evans who sat in second. Championship contender Nick Cassidy moved ahead of Evans and into second with 15 minutes remaining, but was still almost two-tenths behind his team-mate.

Elsewhere, championship leader Jake Dennis was complaining over the radio about his car being “all over the shot” and that it was “understeering like crazy”. Despite his struggles, he still went fifth-quickest with nine minutes left on the clock.

It was all change at the top though, as Evans jumped to the top of the leaderboard on a 1m 11.246s. Pascal Wehrlein also went quickly to move up to second, whilst Günther set the third-quickest time. Less than two-tenths separated the top three with five minutes remaining.

Several very quick laps were set as FP1 approached its climax, with Buemi having gone back to the top with two minutes remaining on a 1m 11.130s. However, as the chequered flag was flown, it was Nato who became the first driver to break into the 1m 10s.

The Frenchman set an impressive 1m 10.765s to top FP1, just six-thousandths of a second ahead of Buemi who improved on his last lap. Nato’s team-mate Fenestraz completed the top three thanks to his final lap, but was almost two-tenths slower than Nato.

Fourth was claimed by Günther but the German was over four-tenths slower than Nato, highlighting the strength of the Nissan driver’s time. Evans claimed P5 ahead of Sérgio Sette Câmara in sixth, with António Félix da Costa, Cassidy, Pascal Wehrlein and Dan Ticktum completing the top 10.

Dennis, concerningly, ended the session over six-tenths off the pace in 11th.

Free practice 2 gets underway Saturday morning at 10:30 GMT.

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