With the holiday break completed, Formula E returns to racing this Saturday in Argentine for the Buenos Aires ePrix.
|2015-16 FIA Formula E Championship – Buenos Aires ePrix|
|Date||06 February 2016||Lap Length||2.785km|
|Free Practice Session 1||Sat 08:15-09:00||Free Practice Session 2||Sat 10:30-11:00|
|Qualifying Group 1||Sat 12:00-12:06||Qualifying Group 2||Sat 12:10-12:16|
|Qualifying Group 3||Sat 12:20-12:26||Qualifying Group 4||Sat 12:30-12:36|
|Super Pole||Sat 12:45-13:00||Race (33 laps)||Sat 16:00-17:00|
Session times quoted in Argentina Time (GMT -03:00)
The 12 turn, 2.479km circuit through the Puerto Madero district of the city has not significantly changed from season one, when it hosted one of the most dramatic of races with Sebastien Buemi, Nick Heidfeld and Lucas di Grassi all leading and falling for various reasons before Antonio Felix da Costa took an unexpected win for Team Aguri.
Speaking ahead of the series’ return to the site of his victory, da Costa feels the circuit layout will again lend itself to competitive racing: “If you can line someone up there’s a good overtaking spot at turn four. Obviously turn one and then turn seven, and I think before the last chicane is also a good opportunity. Everybody is very sensible in Formula E, and that’s a good thing. Every driver has a lot of respect for each other. We have not seen in season two any stupid crashes from the racing so far and that’s the beauty of Formula E when you bring professional drivers together, it gives for good racing.”
With temperatures predicted to peak at 31⁰ Celsius on Saturday, the heat may also play a part in the race result. As was seen in the Malaysian heat during November’s second round teams may have to adjust their energy management strategies and energy regeneration usage, slowing the cars as temperatures climb.
The Form Guide
Two driver changes have been made for the new calendar year. It was announced in January that 1997 Formula 1 World Champion Jacques Villeneuve has left Venturi, with his seat being taken by Toyota World Endurance Championship driver Mike Conway for Argentina.
Team Aguri plays host to the second change, where series rookie Nathanaël Berthon has been replaced by Salvador Duran. Having been left without a drive when he was dismissed from the now defunct Trulli team, the change is a homecoming of sorts for Duran who competed in nine events for Aguri during the inaugural season. His career having been restarted, the Mexican is pleased to be back on the grid: “I am very excited to have re-signed for Team Aguri. This is a very ambitious team with some of the best engineering and technical knowledge in Formula E, and I look forward to being part of an already successful season. I’m particularly looking forward to my home race in Mexico in March.”
Team Aguri owner Marc Faggionato welcomed Duran back to the fold: “Salvador is a perfect fit for the team and it’s great to have him joining us. His experience in the series is crucial, given the unique handling of these cars, and will play a major role in driving the team’s development forward for the remainder of the season and into next year.”
While all teams will no doubt have completed development work during the holidays, based on form for the season so far championship leader Sebastien Buemi is a favourite for the Buenos Aires race. Buemi has won two of three events so far (only technical issues stopped a third victory), and topped the in-season test held after the last round in Punta del Este. As a show of the Swiss driver’s dominance of season two, Buemi has led over 70 percent of race laps so far in season two, having completed 65 laps at the head of the field. The next closest is Putrajaya winner Lucas di Grassi with just 10 laps lead for ABT Schaeffler Audi Sport.
Di Grassi is likely to lead the chasing pack in Argentina, along with Buemi’s Renault eDAMS team mate Nicolas Prost and the DS Virgin Racing pair of Sam Bird and Jean-Éric Vergne. If temperatures do rise to the levels expected, the two teams still utilising the season one McLaren powertrain – Team Aguri and Andretti Formula E – may also feature in the hunt for the podium, just as Andretti’s Robin Frijns did with third place in Malaysia.
Practice 1 is scheduled to begin in Buenos Aires at 08:15 local time (UTC -03:00), followed by Practice 2 at 10:30. Qualifying begins at 12:00, with Super Pole to be held at 12:45. The 35 lap Buenos Aires ePrix race will start at 16:00.
Image via FIA Formula E Championship