Formula E returns for the European leg of the championship, as the Paris ePrix is held for the first time this Saturday.

The Circuit

Paris street circuit

2015-16 FIA Formula E Championship – Paris ePrix
Date 23 April 2016 Lap Length 1.930km
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 (45 laps) Sat 16:00-16:50

Session times quoted in Central European Summer Time (GMT +02:00)

Taking the place of Monaco on the calendar, the clockwise 1.93-kilometre circuit around Les Invalides in Paris’ 7th arrondissement is the second shortest lap ever seen in Formula E – only the circuit it replaces was shorter.

Turn 1 is a ninety degree right hander and possible overtaking opportunity, before the left-hand Turn 2 leads into the sweeping right hand Turn 3 and immediately into the tighter right-hand Turn 4. A tight left-hander at Turn 5 follows, leading on to a short straight, through the left hand kink of Turn 6, and into the left hand hairpin that marks Turn 7. While this is likely to provide a passing opportunity in itself, getting a good exit from this corner will be vital for the run down the back straight to set up a pass into Turn 8.

The following corner is a slight left hand kink leading into another ninety degree right hander at Turn 10. Turn 11 feeds the 180-degree sweeping Turn 12, which interestingly has pit entry in the first half of the corner, and pit exit re-joining the circuit in the second half. This may make traffic for the mid-race pit stops hectic, as some cars fight to exit the circuit and others merge back in all within the space of around 100 meters.

The final portion of the lap is slightly more open, as Turn 13 kicks out to the left almost immediately, followed by the run down to the final corner, which is a right hand turn back on to the start-finish straight.

Setup compromises will be needed to get the most from the layout of the circuit, as Dragon Racing driver Loïc Duval explained:

“It looks quite quick in some areas with medium and high-speed corners. Some areas look a bit tricky with really tight corners so there’s always going to be a way to manage the set-up between the fast parts and slow corners, that’s going to be something special. It looks like there are two long straights and a lot of opportunities to overtake to fight with the other guys, it looks really promising.”

The Form Guide

One driver change has occurred ahead of the Paris event, with Chinese driver Ma Qing Ha being brought in by Team Aguri as a substitute for Salvador Durán. The former HRTF1 Team test driver spent two seasons racing in the FIA World Touring Car Championship with the works Citroën team, but lost his full-time drive when the team downsized during the off-season.

As the Aguri team’s decision to swap drivers was made so close to the event, approval from the FIA Stewards had to be sought; the outfit will also receive a financial penalty for its second driver swap of the season (Durán was brought in to replace Nathanaël Berthon after three rounds of the 2015-16 season).

Having taken the championship lead with victory in the last event at Long Beach and finishing first on the road before disqualification at the previous round in Mexico City, ABT Schaeffler Audi Sport’s Lucas di Grassi is the form driver of the championship at present, and is again likely be challenging at the front in Paris.

Sébastien Buemi will be looking to continue his incredible run of consistency and reliability, as the Swiss driver has scored points in 12 consecutive ePrix, dating back to Long Beach last year. It was this consistency that had Buemi at the top of the table up until being overhauled by di Grassi at Long Beach, where the Swiss driver had an uncharacteristically untidy race.

His Renault e.Dams Team Principal – France’s Alain Prost – will be hoping the incredible run of results he experienced at home during his driving career (with the highlight being 6 French Grand Prix victories) rubs off on his team. Prost’s son, Nicolas, is one of four French drivers – along with Jean-Éric Vergne, Stéphane Sarrazin and Loïc Duval) aiming to win their home ePrix at the first opportunity in Paris.

Image via FIA Formula E Championship

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Mitch Timms

Journalist at MotorsportM8
Professional motorsport engineer and all-round tech head.