The FIA Formula E Championship resumes this Saturday, March 14, on the streets of Miami for the first of two Unites States events.
|2015 FIA FORMULA E MIAMI ePRIX|
|Date||14 March 2015||Lap Length||2.170km / 1.348mi|
|Free Practice 1||Sat 08:15-09:00||Free Practice 2||Sat 10:30-11:00|
|Qualifying||Sat 12:00-12:55||Race (39 laps)||Sat 16:00-17:00|
* Session times are quoted in Eastern Daylight Time (UTC -04:00 hrs)
The eight turn, 2.17km Miami street circuit is nestled on the edge of Biscayne Bay, and while the majority of the track layout is a new design, it features a section along Biscayne Boulevard – a road that has been included in all four street events held in Miami over the past 30 years: IMSA GT Series, CART World Series, the American Le Mans Series, and now Formula E.
Interestingly, the Formula E layout features a pit lane positioned part-way around the course, between turns six and seven. Comprised primarily of 90-degree corners, including those leading on to and off of the circuits two long straights, there are likely to be ample passing opportunities available.
Whilst not racing in the ePrix this weekend, Andretti Autosport’s Marco Andretti is looking forward to the action the track is likely to produce: “The track layout looks great for passing because of the big brake zones and will lend to some exciting racing. Turns 4, 5, 7 and 8 will be very important as they lead onto straights.”
The Players & Form Guide
|Team||Driver #1||Driver #2|
|Amlin Aguri||António Félix da Costa||Salvador Durán|
|Andretti Formula E Team||Jean-Eric Vergne||Scott Speed|
|Audi Sport ABT Formula E Team||Daniel Abt||Lucas di Grassi|
|China Racing Formula E Tem||Charles Pic||Nelson Piquet Jr|
|Dragon Racing Formula E Team||Jérôme d’Ambrosio||Loïc Duval|
|Mahindra Racing Formula E Team||Karun Chandhok||Bruno Senna|
|Team e.DAMS Renault||Nicolas Prost||Sébastien Buemi|
|Trulli Formula E Team||Jarno Trulli||Vitantonio Liuzzi|
|Venturi Formula E Team||Nick Heidfeld||Stéphane Sarrazin|
|Virgin Racing Formula E Team||Sam Bird||Jaime Alguersuari|
Four teams have made driver line-up changes ahead of Miami, with 2013 Le Mans 24 Hours and Word Endurance Championship winner Loïc Duval joining Dragon Racing, in place of Oriol Servià. Whilst no longer behind the wheel, Servià has been appointed by team owner Jay Penske as a co-Managing Director of the Dragon team, developing commercial partnerships and managing the team’s technical operations. While the new role is a career change for the Spaniard, Servia is keen on the challenge: “It is with some regret that I won’t be behind the wheel of the Dragon Racing entry in the FIA Formula E Championship, however Jay and I had always spoken about me playing a larger role in the organisation, and I am ready for this latest challenge in my career. We have a world-class team, and I look forward to playing my part in putting Jérôme [d’Ambrosio] and Loïc on the podium.”
The second driver change for the event is at Andretti Autosport, where Scott Speed, the team’s Global Rallycross driver, has been confirmed as the latest replacement for Franck Montagny. Montagny registered a positive drug test following Round 2 of the series in Malaysia with the seat in the team’s second car being temporarily filled by Matthew Brabham and Marco Andretti for the two events since. Speed’s inclusion now means both of Andretti’s cars are being steered by former Scuderia Toro Rosso Formula 1 drivers, with Jean-Éric Vergne continuing in the other side of the garage.
Miami represents Speed’s first event in an open-wheel car since attempting to qualify for the 2011 Indianapolis 500, and he is eager to slide back into the cockpit: “It’s been so long since I raced an open-wheel car, I feel like I am getting ready for the first day of school. So much excitement! Having this opportunity with Andretti is amazing. It’s super cool to be able to race so many different types of cars within the team. I am anxious to get to Miami, and I am up for the challenge.”
With just two days remaining before the event, two more driver changes have revealed. Charles Pic, who drove for Andretti Autosport in September’s opening round of the season, will return to the series, but this time for China Racing in place of Ho-Pin Tung.
Finally, Trulli Formula E have announced that Michela Cerruti has departed both the team, and the championship, for ‘professional reasons’. Her place in Miami will be taken by another former Formula 1 driver in Vitantonio Liuzzi.
Conveniently holidaying in the United States when the offered the drive by team owner-driver Jarno Trulli, Liuzzi has been rushing to source race gear to use this weekend: “I’m very happy about this nice opportunity to race with Jarno. I was here on holiday when I got a call from Jarno asking if I wanted to race for the team, of course I said yes. It’s a privilege to be racing with such a long-time friend and it will be very nice to be in the same team. The first big task will be to find a race suit! Don’t be surprised if you see me in one of Jarno’s helmets!”
With a different winner of each of the four ePrix so far, the competition in the series has been tight, but the top three drivers in the championship look most likely to become the first repeat victor. Audi Sport ABT’s Lucas di Grassi, who has led the series since claiming the opening race of the season in Beijing, has consistently been at or near the front of the field all season and is likely to be there or thereabouts again in Miami.
Consistency has also been a hallmark of Putrajaya ePrix winner Sam Bird’s series so far, whilst Sébastien Buemi has been the form driver over the past two events for eDAMS.Renault – after winning in Uruguay, the Swiss driver was dominating the meeting in Buenos Aires before suspension failure eliminated him whilst leading. Based on this recent pace it appears that Buemi is back to the competitive level he was at during pre-season testing, and should again be very strong in this weekend.
Jean-Éric Vergne has been fast since joining the series in Punta del Este, including claiming pole on debut, so will be looking to convert this speed into his first win. António Félix da Costa, buoyed by his win last time out in Argentina, will also be hoping to continue his time at the front.
As always, the entire ePrix event will occur over the course of one day, with Practice 1 at 08:15 Miami local time (UTC-04:00). Practice 2 follows at 10:30, with the first of the four qualifying groups on track from 12:00. The drivers who have won the FanBoost vote will be revealed at 15:50, ahead of the Miami ePrix race starting at 16:00.
Images via Formula E Championship