This weekend will see the 2017/18 FIA ABB Formula E Championship reach the halfway stage of the season as it returns to South America for the Punta del Este ePrix in Uruguay.
Located by the Playa Brava Beach, the anti-clockwise street circuit features 20 turns which are made up of a series of chicanes and short straights.
Despite failing to claim pole position in the previous two races, Sébastien Buemi has won on both occasions for Renault e.Dams, and will be one to watch this weekend.
Conversing about the track layout, Buemi said the following:
“It is the most unique track. With a lot of quick, tight chicanes, it’s a very high-speed circuit.”
In team news, Nissan launched their Formula E livery at the Geneva Motor Show ahead of their season five debut later this year.
Their Formula E entry will be Nissan’s first in a major international racing category since their ill-fated LMP1 campaign in the 2015 FIA World Endurance Championship.
Their black, silver and red colour scheme was demonstrated on the second-generation Formula E car. The team are set to become the first Japanese manufacturer to compete in the all-electric series.
Speaking in Geneva, Nissan’s senior Vice President of Global Design, Alfonso Albaisa, explained how the design team reacted to the season five car and how this inspired the livery:
“At first glance, the season five Formula E car looked to our design team like an EV-powered supersonic bird in flight. This initial reaction from the team started us on a path that captured a sense of form breaking free of resistance and gravity.”
“Formula E racers are virtually silent, with explosive speed bursts. Thus, naturally, we turned to Doppler when designing the livery. The combination of the sonic pulse of the Doppler effect and the released power of a sonic boom inspired our celebration of EV racing.”
Formula E CEO, Alejandro Agag, also announced at the Geneva Motor Show that the UK could make a return to the series on the 2018/19 calendar, with a race in Birmingham being the most likely option.
Britain has been absent from the series since 2016, after local protesters voiced concerns regarding noise pollution at the London ePrix held at Battersea Park.
The Spaniard discussed the importance of growing the fanbase there:
“We need to grow the following a lot more in the UK. It takes time and we have to be patient.”
“We have got to have a race there. London is tricky. We don’t have any kind of opening there so there is no chance of that happening at the moment.”
“We are open to other cities and we are talking to Birmingham about doing something. Birmingham is a firm favourite.”
It was also confirmed that Zurich has extend its deal to host a Formula E race until 2027, ahead of its inaugural race later this season on June 10th.
The three-year extension follows an initial six-year deal to host the race in the Swiss city, with the forthcoming race set to be the first held in the country following its Government banning motor racing following the infamous Le Mans disaster in 1955.
Pascal Derron, chief executive of Swiss E-Prix Operations AG stated: “This supports the continuity for the Formula E race in our country. Switzerland stands for innovation, precision and building services.”
“This is also an important sign for our partner, with whom we will be able to operate the Zurich E-Prix 2018. Finally, the last doubts should be dispelled, and the Zurich E-Prix will take place on 10th June 2018. It will be an international figurehead for the whole of Switzerland.”
Meanwhile, the operation arm of the DS Virgin Racing team has moved into new state-of-the-art facilities at Silverstone Park, situated next to the famous Northamptonshire track of the same name.
The UK-based team started preparing for the move last summer ahead of the current campaign and have recently finished the procedure.
The 11,000-square foot based will employ around 25 permanent staff members, in addition to housing the team’s race winning cars, workshop bays, spare parts, engineering rooms and multimedia meeting rooms.
Although DS Virgin’s commercial headquarters will still be based in central London, team manager Leon Price explained the benefits the move will bring:
“We looked at a number of locations but the high standard of facilities at Silverstone Park, together with the skillset and like-minded businesses on the doorstep, made it an easy choice.”
“It’s great to be now fully settled in and to have a strong base, just a stone’s throw from the home of British racing, in which to prepare for the demands of the Formula E series.”
At the previous round in Mexico City, Audi Sport’s Daniel Abt made up for the heartbreak he suffered at the beginning of the season in Hong Kong to win his first Formula E race.
Abt initially won the second race of the season opener on his 25th birthday, but was disqualified after FIA stewards discovered that stickers on his car around the inverter and the MGU unit didn’t match the ones declared by the team.
However, now that Audi Sport have their breakthrough victory, things look more positive for the team:
“We came here knowing that we had a super car and 12 points overall in the team”, said Abt, adding: “It’s just a good sign that we didn’t give up, we kept believing in it and today was just a fantastic day.”
Fifth place for Techeetah’s Jean-Eric Vergne was enough to see the Frenchman maintain his lead in the Drivers’ Championship.
His main title rivals had difficult races, with Mahindra’s Felix Rosenqvist retiring from the race lead due to an electrical issue, whilst DS Virgin’s Sam Bird was the last classified finisher in 17th.
The Mexico City ePrix also saw Oliver Turvey claim his first podium finish for NIO in second, with Buemi rounding up the podium in third for Renault e.Dams.
You can watch qualifying for this Saturday’s Punta del Este ePrix live on 5Spike at 2:45pm.
The race itself will be broadcast the same day on Channel 5, with coverage starting 6:30pm ahead of the scheduled 7pm race start. *
*All times are stated in GMT and are subject to change.