With the title fight still well and truly alive, the inaugural Formula E Championship reaches its climax this weekend with a double-header event in Battersea Park, London.
|2015 FIA Formula E London ePrix|
|Date||06-07 June 2015||Lap Length||2.290km|
|Free Practice Session 1||Sat & Sun 08:15-09:00||Free Practice Session 2||Sat & Sun 10:30-11:00|
|Qualifying Group 1||Sat & Sun 12:00-12:10||Qualifying Group 2||Sat & Sun 12:15-12:25|
|Qualifying Group 3||Sat & Sun 12:30-12:40||Qualifying Group 4||Sat & Sun 12:45-12:55|
|FanBoost||Sat & Sun 15:50||Race||Sat & Sun 16:00-17:00|
* Session times are quoted in British Summer Time (UTC +01:00 hrs)
On paper, the 17-turn, 2.922km Battersea Park circuit has the potential to be one of the fastest tracks of the year as it flows through the parkland roads. The tighter left-hand corners at Turns 3, 8 and 17 all follow straights, and are likely to form the main overtaking locations on the track.
Also interspersed around the circuit are five chicanes, which at the very least will provide action as they bunch up the field. The pit lane entry leaves the circuit to driver’s left at the exit of the Turns 14/15/16 chicane, and re-joins early on the front straight, before the start/finish line.
For his home event, Sam Bird is excited about both the location and the challenges that Battersea Park will present the Formula E field.
“I’m impressed with what I have seen so far. The track is in the beautiful Battersea Park, right next to the river Thames, just across from Chelsea and with some of the most famous features of London’s skyline in the background. The layout itself seems to combine fast straights, a couple of high-speed bends as well as some challenging chicanes and braking zones. I think the London ePrix spectators will be treated to some close, fast racing with plenty of action and overtaking. The organisers have done a good job with this layout and I can’t wait to race there, in front of my home crowd!”
Given that Sunday will be the first time Formula E have raced twice on the same circuit, it will interesting to note how much lap speeds may increase due to an additional day of the track surface being cleared and rubber being laid down. Managing these evolving track conditions, along with building upon the lessons learned from Saturday’s racing, will be a critical factor in achieving a top result on Sunday afternoon.
The Entry List
In the rest of the field, four driver changes have occurred since the last event in Moscow. Piquet will have a new NEXTEV TCR team mate in former McLaren test driver Oliver Turvey, in what will be the Briton’s first open-wheel race since the 2011 GP2 Series season.
Super GT commitments for Tonio Liuzzi have earned GP3 Series driver Alex Fontana a call up to the Trulli squad, while a DTM race for António Félix da Costa has led Amlin Aguri to introduce Sakon Yamamoto as a substitute. The Japanese racer, who among other teams, drover for Super Aguri during his Formula 1 career, had previously driven a Formula E car at Homestead-Miami speedway as part of his role in the Formula E television coverage for his home nation.
Andretti Autosport have enlisted the services of another member of their large driver pool. Having competed in selected IndyCar Series events for Andretti so far this season (including the Indianapolis 500), Simona de Silvestro will make her Formula E debut in London alongside Jean-Éric Vergne.
The final change to the field has only been revealed in recent days due to health reasons. Having suffered from severe dehydration in Moscow – including fainting after the race – Virgin Racing’s Jaime Alguersuari has not received medical clearance in time to return to the car for London. In his place, the team have announced 2013 GP2 Series Champion and current Manor Marussia F1 reserve driver Fabio Leimer will drive the car.
The Form Guide
Mathematically, six drivers remain with a chance to clinch the title: Nelson Piquet Jr, Lucas di Grassi, Sébastien Buemi, Nicolas Prost, Jérôme d’Ambrosio and Sam Bird.
As it stands, Piquet holds all the cards – and a 17-point lead on the chasing pack – with a maximum of 60 points available over Saturday and Sunday. In reality, it is a race in three for Piquet, di Grassi and Buemi, as Bird needs to claim all 60 points for both race wins, both pole positions and both fastest race laps without Piquet scoring at all, and the task for d’Ambrosio and Prost is only slightly less unlikely.
Piquet’s 23-point lead over Buemi in third is enough to require the Swiss driver to finish ahead of Piquet in the points on Saturday to keep his hopes alive going into the Sunday round. For Buemi and to a lesser extent di Grassi, a poor result or misfortune for Piquet in at least one of the races will likely be needed to bring them both right back into the championship fight.
With Saturday’s race labelled as ‘Round 10’ and Sunday’s as ‘Round 11’, each day of the London ePrix is effectively an individual event that will follow the same format seen throughout the season so far. The same session timetable will be used on both days: first practice will begin at 08:15am local time (UTC+01:00) each day, with practice two following at 10:30. The four qualifying groups be on track from 12:00, ahead of FanBoost winners being announced at 15:50 and each of the 29-lap London ePrix races starting at 16:00.
Images via FIA Formula E Championship and Current-E