The ABB FIA Formula E Championship heads to the first of three new cities for the 2017/18 season this Saturday, with the inaugural Santiago ePrix set to unfold.

The Circuit

Santiago ePrix circuit layout

Parque Forestal Ciudad De Santiago Circuit
Location Santiago, Chile Circuit Length 2.46 km / 1.53 mi
Opened 2018 First Formula E Event 2018
Direction Clockwise Race Lap Record To be established

The Chilean capital hosts Round 4 of the series, on the new Parque Forestal Ciudad De Santiago circuit. The 2.46-kilometre circuit runs clockwise and comprises 12 turns through the city centre, crossing the Mapocho River, Plazza Baquedano and Forestal Park. The race start line is separate from the finish line – the finish also being the main timing line for practice and qualifying, and as such the corner number sequence begins here.

Turn 1 is a right hand corner of just under 90 degrees, and is followed by a short run to Turn 2, another right hand turn of just over 90 degrees. These two corners together will likely form a passing opportunity, with drivers getting down the inside at Turn 1 and completing the pass at Turn 2.

Turn 2 leads on to Avenue Santa Maria, the longest straight on the circuit and containing the starting grid. Turn 3 is another right hand corner similar to turn one, however Turn 4 is a left hand corner – giving the opposite effect to the Turns 1-2 combination – a driver may lose a position by being on the outside through Turn 3, only to regain the place on the inside at Turn 4.

Turns 5 and 6 follow quickly and are slightly more open bringing cars round to the right towards the left hand kink at Turn 7, followed by the run down to the tight, 180-degree right hand hairpin that is Turn 8 which is likely to be another overtaking spot.

Turn 9 is a ninety degree left hand turn – with the entrance to pit lane taken here by continuing straight ahead – followed by a slightly more open left-hander at Turn 10. Another straight follows to the 100-degree, right hand Turn 11, followed by another short straight to the final corner, another ninety-degree left hander. Both Turns 11 and 12 are also likely passing opportunities.

The circuit also includes several surface changes, a feature which championship leader Felix Rosenqvist feels will make what appears to be a fun layout also very challenging.

“[The track] looks good fun but the surface is very changeable – you have a lot of concrete patches, which doesn’t build up grip in the same way as tarmac does,” he said.

“I think you just have to feel the car the whole time and react to that…in every sense, it’s very going to be challenging. The temperature is key here – it’s going to have an impact on everyone’s race.”

The Form Guide

Having won two of the three races so far this season, Rosenqvist is rightly considered to be a favourite again in Santiago. Along with continuing to push for the Drivers’ Championship title, Rosenqvist and teammate Nick Heidfeld will also be wanting to keep Mahindra Racing at the top of the Teams’ standings too.

Sam Bird – the only other driver to have won a race this season – currently sits second in the standings, just four points behind Rosenqvist, and will likely also be strong in Santiago as the Briton pushes to regain the championship lead.

Third in the standings and again showing good pace this season is Jean-Éric Vergne. The Techeetah driver should again be a threat in Chile, as should Sébastien Buemi. After a poor start to the season in Hong Kong’s two races, Buemi bounced back with second last time out in Marrakesh. The Swiss driver will be looking to continue his recovery for Renault e.Dams.

Conversely, reigning champion Lucas di Grassi currently sits at the bottom of the standings, yet to score a point. It’s an unfamiliar position for the Brazilian, who has been so consistent over the first three seasons of Formula E. A strong result in Santiago is critical of the Audi Sport ABT Schaeffler driver is to have any reasonable hope of defending his title.

The Brazilian’s hopes will not be made any easier by news that he has a 10-place grid penalty for Saturday’s race. Audi opted to change the inverter on one of his cars as a result of its post-race analysis from the Marrakesh erPrix, meaning an automatic penalty applies as Audi has already used its one penalty-free change of inverter after qualifying at the Marrakesh ePrix.

The quiet achievers so far this season have been the Jaguar pairing of Nelson Piquet Jr and Mitch Evans, who currently sit in fourth and eighth places respectively. Piquet’s current point score is incredibly similar to where he sat after three races during his championship winning run during season one, a year in which every circuit was a new destination for the series. With this in mind, the new destination of Santiago may provide the opportunity for Piquet – or even Evans – to bring Jaguar its first Formula E victory.

Opening practice in Santiago begins at 08:00am local time (UTC -3:00), followed by Practice Two at 10:30am. Qualifying is scheduled to start at 12:00pm, leading in to Super Pole at 12:45pm. Race start for the inaugural Santiago ePrix is set for 16:00.

2017-18 ABB FIA Formula E Championship – Santiago ePrix
Date 3 February 2018 Free Practice Session 1 Sat 08:00-08:45
Free Practice Session 2 Sat 10:30-11:00 Qualifying Sat 12:00-12:36
‘Super Pole’ Sat 12:45-13:00 Race Sat 16:00-17:00

Session times quoted in Chile Summer Time (GMT -3:00)

Images via FIA Formula E Championship

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Mitch Timms

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