The ABB FIA Formula E Championship moves to South America for the third round of the 2018-19 season, the Santiago ePrix in this Saturday.

The Circuit

Parque O'Higgins Circuit - Santiago ePrix

Parque O’Higgins Circuit
Location Santiago, Chile Circuit Length 2.348 km / 1.459 mi
Opened 2019 First Formula E Event 2019
Direction Anticlockwise Lap Record To be established

For the second running of the Chilean event, the race moves from a course around the Mapocho River to a new location in Parque O’Higgins. The 2.348-kilometre, 14-turn circuit runs anti-clockwise and has its start/finish straight and pit area in the carpark of the Movistar Arena.

From the starting grid, the circuit runs north to the right-hand Turn 1, followed immediately by the sweeping Turn 2, also to the right. Turn 3 is a left-hand corner, possibly the first overtaking opportunity on the circuit, before a short straight to the left-hand Turn 4. Another short straight follows to Turn 5, which follows a similar profile to the previous corner, and after third short straight Turn 6 kinks slightly to the left. This will also mark the start of the braking zone for Turn 7, a ninety-degree right-hand corner and another likely passing location.

The exit of Turn 7 leads on to an extended sweep to the left running behind the arena complex, interrupted almost half-way around by the right-left-right chicane comprising Turns 8-10. The left hand sweep continues after the chicane – this section of the curve deemed Turn 11 – ended only by the ninety-degree left-hander at Turn 12 which leads the field back into the car park section. A straight runs to the almost 180-degree to the left Turn 13 hairpin, followed after another straight by a similar – but right hand – hairpin at Turn 14, which leads back on to the start/finish straight. The final run of corners – Turns 12, 13 and 14 – are likely to see passing battles that may not be resolved until the front straight, possibly even continuing down to Turn 3.

The circuit also features a mixture of surfaces – including older concrete through the carpark section but new tarmac through the Turn 1 to Turn 7 loop – which is likely to require a compromise in both set up and tyre management.

Dragon Racing driver José María López is expecting the next location to be a battle: “The concrete will be really challenging. It’s going to be slippery and then you have a new tarmac after Turn 1, so the grip is going to be much better. It’s a challenging circuit, just like we are used to in Formula E.”

Daniel Abt & Lucas di Grassi, Audi Sport ABT Schaeffler e-tron FE05 - 2019 Formula E Santiago ePrix

Long sweeping corners and a varied track surface will place an emphasis on set-up and tyre management.

The Form Guide

With a new location and of course the new-generation Formula E car in 2019, previous history in Santiago may not be as important as previously. The 2018 event was a 1-2 result for Techeetah – the first by any team in Formula E history – with eventual champion Jean-Éric Vergne taking victory from pole position, with André Lotterer in second. Sébastien Buemi finished third for the then-Renault e.Dams team.

Based on form in the first two events of the current season, DS Techeetah is highly likely to be challenging for the win again in Santiago. Vergne and Lotterer have had pace on the field in both Riyadh and Marrakesh, but in both instances being forced to drive through the field (due to a combination of penalties, a poor qualifying and an early-race incident) means that they are yet to achieve their potential this season. Vergne and Lotterer currently sit third and fourth respectively in the Drivers’ Championship, reinforcing the speed of the DS Techeetah in what have ultimately been recovery drives in both races so far.

Heading into Santiago, the standings are led by Marrakesh winner Jérôme d’Ambrosio. The Belgian is the only driver to have stood on the podium in both races so far, and while in neither instance has the Mahindra been the fastest car, clean consistent racing has led Team Principal Dilbagh Gill to declare the team is ready to challenge.

“We’re here to compete…we’re not the underdog,” he said ahead of this weekend’s race.

“Christmas came early for us this year…it was unexpected because, on merit, we wouldn’t have won the race. We’ve always looked at Jérôme as a solid driver…we should see some more success from him this year.”

The second Mahindra, driven by Pascal Wehrlien, was involved in an opening lap incident during the German’s Formula E debut in Marrakesh, but showed promising pace through practice and qualifying to suggest it’s is only a matter of time before he too is challenging towards the front.

BMW i Andretti won the opening round with António Félix da Costa, but lost what seemed an almost certain one-two finish in Marrakesh when da Costa and team mate Alexander Sims collided while batting for the lead. The BMW pair has shown the closest pace to the Techeetahs, and will no doubt be looking to make up for the horrors of Marrakesh in Santiago.

Sam Bird scored pole position for Envision Virgin Racing in Marrakesh, and sits equal fifth in the championship alongside teammate Robin Frijns. Converting one-lap speed into race pace will be a focus for the Virgin team in Santiago, to take the next step towards the leading two teams.

The 2019 Santiago ePrix begins with the 45 minute opening practice session at 08:00 local time (UTC -03:00), ahead of Practice 2 for 30 minutes from 10:15. The first qualifying group is scheduled to be on track from 12:00 with Super Pole at 12:45. The ePrix start is set for 16:03 ahead of 45 minutes plus one lap of racing.

2018-19 FIA Formula E Championship – Antofagasta Minerals Santiago ePrix
Date 26 January 2019 Free Practice Session 1 Sat 08:00-08:45
Free Practice Session 2 Sat 10:15-10:45 Preliminary Qualifying Sat 12:00-12:36
‘Super Pole’ Sat 12:45-13:05 Race (45 min + 1 lap) Sat 16:00-17:00

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

Images via ABB FIA Formula E Championship

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Mitch Timms

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