The FIA Formula E Championship continues this Saturday (April 4) with its second United States event, the Long Beach ePrix in California. For the first time in five rounds completed so far, the field of twenty drivers will remain the same as in the previous event, held three weeks ago in Miami.
|2015 FIA Formula E Long Beach ePrix|
|Date||4 April 2015||Lap Length||2.1km / 1.3mi|
|Free Practice Session 1||Sat 08:15-08:40||Free Practice Session 2||Sat 09:25-09:50|
|Qualifying Group 1||Sat 12:00-12:10||Qualifying Group 2||Sat 12:15-12:25|
|Qualifying Group 3||Sat 12:30-12:40||Qualifying Group 4||Sat 12:45-12:55|
|FanBoost Winner||Sat 15:50||Race||Sat 16:00-17:00|
* Session times are quoted in Pacific Daylight Time (UTC -07:00 hrs)
Formula E becomes the latest top-end single seater series to race on a form of the historic Long Beach street circuit, in this case using a shortened version of the circuit to be used for the IndyCar Long Beach Grand Prix in two weeks’ time. From the existing start/finish line, a right-left chicane has been added as Turns 1 and 2 part-way around the sweeper along Shoreline drive, before the ninety-degree right hand Turn 3 brings the cars back on to the IndyCar track layout on South Pine Avenue. The rest of the lap follows the classic Long Beach circuit, with the straights leading to ninety degree right handers behind the convention centre at Turns 4 and 5 likely to create passing for the Formula E cars. The sweeping left-hand Turn 6 leads into Long Beach’s famous right-hand hairpin final corner.
As a three-time pole sitter for the Long Beach CART races of the late 90’s and early 2000’s, Formula E Driver Ambassador Gil de Ferran is well qualified to give his view of the circuit: “Long Beach is an iconic track. It is the most famous street circuit in North America and is a little bit of a tradition in American motorsport. It says a lot for Formula E that it is racing at such a venue. The track layout Formula E will use is more similar to the old layout than the current IndyCar version. It’s obviously a little bit shorter, but the southern end of the track is the same as it’s always been and it’s a very interesting part of the circuit with the famous hairpin leading into the straight. There’s a lot of time to be gained or lost at that end of the track – and I speak from personal experience! “
“Also the two right handers at the north end of the track, especially the one at the end of the straight (Turn 5), will provide great passing opportunities. The whole layout looks very ‘racy’. With the exception of one corner in the southern end, Long Beach is super wide, which is why traditionally you have such good racing there, because people can get side-by-side.”
Additionally, de Ferran thinks strategic race craft, especially for drivers with FanBoost, will be important to achieving a result in Long Beach: “It’s going to be interesting to see from a strategic perspective where the drivers are going to make the use of the boost to overtake each other. If you make it on one straight you can be attacked back on the next straight, so that’s going to be fascinating.”
The event will use the IndyCar pit lane layout with a separate paddock area, and accommodate this the Formula E practice format has changed slightly for Long Beach. Three 25-minute practice sessions to be run in place of the standard of two longer sessions, allowing teams time to re-group and manage car charging time in the paddock.
The Form Guide
Following on from his win in Miami, new championship leader Nicolas Prost is likely to again content for honours in Long Beach, and with the pace shown by both eDAMS.Renault cars at most events during the season, his team mate Sébastien Buemi should also be in the mix to be the first driver to become the first two-time Formula E winner.
Audi Sport ABT driver Lucas di Grassi will also be on the hunt for a second race win, and with it the chance to reassert his position at the top of the championship ladder.
As an American team at a historic American street circuit, both Andretti Autosport cars will be looking to take victory, with both Jean-Éric Vergne and Scott Speed having made impressive debuts in the series over recent rounds. For Speed in particular, a win at home would be a dream come true after a fighting second in Miami – his first Formula E race.
But the American is under no illusions as to the challenge he faces: “I’m sure going to try, we have a strong team but it’ll be tough around here with the bumps, kerbs and walls. I think it will be a race of attrition and I’m going to have to race smart…anything is possible!”
The Long Beach ePrix kicks off with the first of three 25 minute practice sessions at 08:15 local time (UTC-07:00), with Practice 2 at 09:25 and Practice 3 at 10:35. The first of the four qualifying groups are on track from 12:00, before the Long Beach ePrix Race at 16:00. As with every ePrix, FanBoost will be implemented ten minutes before race start.
Images via FIA Formula E Championship