For the first time since 2015, the ABB FIA Formula E Championship returns to mainland China for the inaugural running of the Sanya ePrix.

The Circuit

Sanya ePrix Street Circuit

Sanya Street Circuit
Location Sanya, China Circuit Length 2.236 km / 1.389 mi
Opened 2019 First Formula E Event 2019
Direction Anticlockwise Lap Record To be established

Sanya, in the south of the nation, becomes the twenty-first city to host an ePrix, with a eleven-turn 2.3-kilometre street circuit having been constructed around the city’s Haitang Bay area. A lap begins with three consecutive left-hand corners: Turn 1 is a ninety-degree turn, Turn 2 is approximately sixty degrees and Turn 3 is another ninety degree corner, with the first and third in the sequence being likely passing opportunities.

Turn 4 is the first right-hander, starting as a tighter turn which opens up considerably through the exit, leading into a short straight running to a left-hand hairpin at Turn 5. Turn 6 follows immediately to the right, followed by the longest straight on the circuit. Turn 7 is a flat out left hand sweep, leading to the 180-degree Turn 8 hairpin.

Turn 9 is a right-hand sweep following the same profile as Turn 7, before another extended straight. A right-left-right chicane complex comprises Turn 10, while the final corner – Turn 11 – is a tight left-hand turn on to the finish straight. As seen at a number of of other Formula E circuits, the start and finish lines are not in the same location. The start line for the ePrix is positioned between Turns 9 and 10, while the finish line (and main control line for timed laps) is on the straight leading to Turn 1.

With a mixture of surfaces, tight corners and wide straights, BMW i Andretti driver Alexander Sims feels the circuit design will suit overtaking.

“There are some changes in tarmac, which give it that street race feel. It’s narrow in places but the straights are wide enough to promote overtakes, while they will also make energy-saving a factor in the race. There may be some scope for playing around with the energy management strategy – we’ll be getting close to the temperature limits for the battery but hopefully not as close as Santiago.”

The Form Guide

Varying levels of disaster for all the championship contenders during the last race in Hong Kong has resulted in both the Drivers’ and Teams’ Championship standings closing up, and bringing more competitors back in to the title mix.

With five different drivers having won the opening five races of the season, the championship is the closest it has ever been – but likes of Mahindra will want to rebound to the front. Their driver pairing of Jérôme d’Ambrosio and Pascal Wehrlein were innocent victims in the same accident in Hong Kong, losing the lead of both championships in the process. Even Sam Bird – the current championship leader – was stripped of the Hong Kong race win following an infringement for late contact with André Lotterer while battling for the lead and the Brit will be looking to make amends as soon as possible.

For Lotterer losing a possible win hurt, but the German’s mind soon shifted to Sanya.

“What happened in Hong Kong made me even more confident that we can play at the front – we did everything right. We’re going in the right direction and we have a good car  – we’ve just got to put it all together,” said Lotterer.

Building performances from Venturi over the season so far hit a new high when Edoardo Mortara was awarded the Hong Kong victory after Bird’s penalty. The Monégasque squad has been on an upward swing and will likely be near the front again in Sanya.

Following his win in Mexico City and another strong run in Hong Kong, Audi Sport ABT Schaeffler’s Lucas di Grassi is now well and truly in the championship hunt, and along with team mate Daniel Abt will be contenders in China.

The inaugural Sanya ePrix commences with first practice at 07:30 local time (UTC +08:00), with second practice at 09:35. Qualifying and Super Pole begins from 11:20, with the race to start at 15:00 for a 45 minutes plus one lap duration.

2018-19 FIA Formula E Championship – Sanya ePrix
Date 23 March 2019 Free Practice Session 1 Sat 07:30-08:15
Free Practice Session 2 Sat 09:35-10:05 Preliminary Qualifying Sat 11:20-11:56
‘Super Pole’ Sat 12:05-12:25 Race (45 min + 1 lap) Sat 15:00-17:00

Session times quoted in China Standard Time (GMT +8:00)

Images via ABB FIA Formula E Championship

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Mitch Timms

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