The FIA Formula E Championship reaches the end of its European leg this weekend, with the double-header Berlin ePrix.
|Tempelhof Airport Street Circuit|
|Location||Berlin, Germany||Circuit Length||2.277 km / 1.415 mi|
|Opened||2015||First Formula E Event||2015|
|Direction||Anticlockwise||Lap Record||1:24.435 – Nelson Piquet Jr (2015)|
After being held in Karl-Marx-Allee for the 2016 event the series returns to the apron of the former Berlin Tempelhof Airport, but on a significantly different layout to that used in 2015.
The new 10-turn circuit has done away with the much-maligned tight and technical format; instead more open corners and a unique indoor section greet the drivers. From the start/finish ‘straight’ (which is actually a gradual curve), Turn 1 is a tightening 270° left-hander which leads into two 90° right-hand corners for Turns 2 and 3.
The short straight follows, running through the Emotion corporate area – meaning that the building forms a tunnel, enclosing the track indoors – before emerging outside again in the braking area for the left-hand Turn 4. Adding further spice to the indoor/outdoor transition, the corner will be a passing opportunity so setting up the line for an overtake with the changing light may pose a challenge for both the attacking and defending drivers.
Turn 5 is a right hand kink on to the back straight, which curves slightly right into the braking area for Turn 6, a left-hand corner which opens up significantly on exit. Turn 7 is another 90° left hand turn, which leads to the fast, right-hand kink at Turn 8. Another straight follows which ends with a 180° hairpin at Turn 9, which is likely to be the best passing location on the circuit. Turn 10 ends the lap, a broader hairpin which opens up onto the front straight.
Maro Engel has returned after missing the Paris ePrix due to his clashing DTM commitments, but his substitute at Venturi – Tom Dillmann – has simply moved to the other side of the garage.
The reason for this switch is thanks to former F1 driver Esteban Gutiérrez, who departed rival outfit Techeetah to take a full-time drive for the rest of the IndyCar Series season as the replacement to the injured Sébastien Bourdais. Techeetah accused the Mexican of violating his contract and promptly sacked him, appointing Sarrazin in his place.
With Sarrazin having moved from Venturi to the now vacant seat at Techeetah, this paved the way for Dillman – who scored points on his debut in Paris by finishing eighth – to now see out the season with the Monegasque outfit.
The Form Guide
History in Berlin suggests another Sébastien Buemi versus Lucas di Grassi battle. Di Grassi was first over the line at the series’ last visit to Tempelhof in 2015, only to be stripped of the win for a technical infringement – handing victory to Jérôme d’Ambrosio.
Buemi was the victor in 2016 when the Formula E Championship raced in downtown Berlin, closing to within one point of the championship lead at the time which ultimately propelled him to the title at the end of the year.
The form throughout the 2016-17 season so far has seen these two drivers a class above the rest of the field, and there’s no reason to expect anything different this weekend. Following di Grassi’s error-ridden weekend in Paris, Buemi now has the ascendancy with a comfortable championship lead, but will be looking for more victories in Berlin to further extend that buffer.
As the first of three double-header events to end the season, the Berlin ePrix gives the chances to refresh and start again on Sunday if a team’s Saturday result is poor. Two bad results in consecutive days, however, could very easily derail a championship campaign.
The defining factor of the 2015 race at Berlin Tempelhof was tyre degradation, as teams and drivers managed their setup and race strategy to get the best from the abrasive concrete apron surface. Despite the new layout, the track surface remains the same and will be key to the race result once again.
Both days of on track action follow the same schedule, starting with opening practice at 08:00 local time (UTC+02:00). Practice two starts at 10:30, ahead of Qualifying and SuperPole from 12:00. Each race of the Berlin ePrix is scheduled to start at 16:00.
|2016-17 FIA Formula E Championship – Berlin ePrix|
|Date||10-11 June 2017||Free Practice Session 1||Sat & Sun 08:00-08:45|
|Qualifying Draw||Sat & Sun 10:00-10:20||Free Practice Session 2||Sat & Sun 10:30-11:00|
|Qualifying Group 1||Sat & Sun 12:00-12:06||Qualifying Group 2||Sat & Sun 12:10-12:16|
|Qualifying Group 3||Sat & Sun 12:20-12:26||Qualifying Group 4||Sat & Sun 12:30-12:36|
|Super Pole||Sat & Sun 12:45-13:00||Races (44 laps)||Sat & Sun 16:00-17:00|
Session times quoted in Central European Summer Time (GMT +02:00)
Images via FIA Formula E Championship