The FIA Formula E Championship returns to North America this weekend for the inaugural New York City ePrix to be held around the Brooklyn Cruise Terminal in Red Hook.

Potentially the biggest focus of the weekend will be a race between Lucas di Grassi and a driver who isn’t even going to be present in the United States. As the New York race clashes with the World Endurance Championship event at the Nürburgring, championship leader Sebastien Buemi’s WEC drive with Toyota takes precedence and leaves the Swiss driver unable to defend his points lead over second placed di Grassi.

In Buemi’s favour is the size of his championship lead, 32 points ahead of di Grassi. A maximum of 58 points is available over the event between the two races, fastest laps and pole positions, so heading to the final two races in Toronto with the championship lead is entirely in the Brazilian’s reach.

Looking at the season so far, however, suggests both drivers will be neck-and-neck ahead of the Canadian double-header: di Grassi has averaged 15.6 points per race throughout this season, a repeat of which in New York would put him right alongside Buemi in the standings.

The Circuit

Brooklyn Street Circuit

Brooklyn Street Circuit
Location Brooklyn, New York Circuit Length 1.950 km / 1.210 mi
Opened 2017 First Formula E Event 2017
Direction Clockwise Lap Record Not yet established

Racing at the narrow Brooklyn circuit stands to be a tight affair, with passing set to be difficult. From the start/finish line, the front straight leads to a 180-degree, right-hand hairpin at Turn 1. The next straight is roughly the same length as the front straight, with Turn 2 a 90-degree left hand corner that immediately enters into Turn 3 – another right-hand hairpin.

The following section of the track will be the fastest, with Turn 4 only a right hand kink on the run to Turn 5. The pit entry road departs the circuit from driver’s left between these corners and rejoins to driver’s left between Turns 5 and 6, which may come into play for drivers battling through traffic. Turn 5 is a 90-degree left hand corner, followed by a short straight to Turn 6 – another 180-degree, right-hand hairpin.

A 90-degree right-hander follows another short straight for Turn 7, before the tight Turn 8/9 chicane complex. Turn 10 is a sweeping left hand corner which brings the cars back on to the start/finish straight. A good run out of Turn 9 and through 10 should make Turn 1 a passing opportunity, while Turns 5 and 7 are also likely to be where drivers will look for a pass.

Even with these possible overtaking locations, passing on such a narrow circuit will be difficult, and places a focus on qualifying. With this in mind, look for the likes of Jean-Éric Vergne, Felix Rosenqvist and Oliver Turvey to be near the front in qualifying as they currently have the second, third and fourth best qualifying averages respectively across the eight races completed this season (Buemi has the best average). Conversely, di Grassi ranks seventh in this list, so will be looking for better than average qualifying runs to make the most of Buemi’s absence.

Driver Movements

There are two changes to the field compared to the previous event in Berlin. Buemi’s substitute is reigning GP2 Series champion and fellow Red Bull Racing F1 reserve driver Pierre Gasly, while Alex Lynn will make his race debut for DS Virgin Racing, covering for José María López.

Lopez is absent for the same reason as Buemi – driving for Toyota at the Nürburgring WEC round. Both drivers ran in the Friday afternoon shake down however New York was hit by a thunderstorm at the time, so the session will be of little relevance to the weekend as they adapt to Formula E.

Going Green

Both race days in New York City are forecast to be fine and warm: 30⁰C on Saturday and 31⁰C on Sunday. Historically, warm ambient temperatures significantly increase the difficulty and importance of energy management in Formula E races and this will be particularly evident on Sunday as the race is schedule to run for an additional six laps than on Saturday.

The New York ePrix will also be the first event in Formula E history to be carbon neutral, with series partners Enel & DHL working to offset the race meeting’s emissions.

Having heralded the green credentials of the series since its inception, Formula E CEO Alejandro Agag claims this milestone is an important step in the championship becoming completely carbon neutral by 2020.

“With the continued support of Enel, as well as DHL, Formula E isn’t just making history with the first-ever race in New York – but the first zero-emission event in the history of the series,” he said. “Both Enel and DHL share the same common vision and goal to make Formula E carbon neutral by 2020 – the future is electric.”

Saturday’s running will open with Practice 1 from 08:00 local time (UTC-04:00), with Practice 2 at 10:30. Qualifying will follow from 12:00, while the green flag for Race 9 of the championship will be waved at 16:00.

Track action on Sunday follows a more condensed schedule with a single practice session at 07:00, ahead of qualifying at 09:00 and the second race of the New York City ePrix from 13:00.

2016-17 FIA Formula E Championship – New York ePrix
Date 15-16 July 2017 Free Practice Session 1 Sat 08:00-09:00
Free Practice Session 2 Sat 10:30-11:00 Race 1 Qualifying Sat 12:00-13:00
Race 1 Sat 16:00-17:00 Free Practice Session 3 Sun 07:00-07:45
Race 2 Qualifying Sun 09:00-10:00 Race 2 Sun 13:00-14:00

Session times quoted in Eastern Daylight Time (GMT -04:00)

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Mitch Timms

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