The setting for the second Formula E race is the Malaysian city of Putrajaya. Located in the Persiaran Perdana region, the 1.55-mile (2.5km) track is very different from the one in Beijing, where the opening round took place.
As all the tracks have been specifically designed and built for Formula E, the first time the drivers will actually get to experience the layout in their Spark-Renault SER_01E is during Friday’s shakedown session. However, to learn the track and its set-up requirements, all the teams employ some form of simulator.
So while the information may not be perfect, it’s still very valid and we asked Virgin Racing’s Sam Bird to give us his thoughts on the track.
“Depending on how tight it is it will probably be a second-gear chicane. In the race probably quite a small brake if we’re doing quite a big lift-and-coast. When you lift and coast your braking zones become a lot more compact. You might be able to get a bit of throttle between 1 and 2 but you’re going to want to pick up the throttle at or just before the exit of 2.
“It’s quite a long straight – and with Formula E you need to keep your minimum speeds up. If you’re late on power, or if you’re trying to ‘V’ the corners, it’s no good because there’s no power to get you down the straight - you need to keep the minimum speeds up and up. As soon as you start to ‘V’ the corners you think ‘why am I slow?’ and then you start over-driving or ‘V’-ing it more thinking ‘I’m using too much energy’ and you get yourself into a real downward spiral.
“It is pretty much the same with the lift and coast. It’s another area where it looks as though you can do a 75m-125m lift-and-coast. It’s a conventional 90-degree corner. You might be able to do a tiny bit of lift and coast into 4 but it’s not going to be huge.”
“For 6 it’s going to be very important to get on the power early and get a good exit. This is the kind of area where you will be looking at your kw/h especially in the race thinking ‘right, I’ve used one-point-something on this lap I know that from here to the line I’m going to use another one-point-something so that will leave me with two-point-whatever, so can I do another lap compared top my competitors or can I now really push for the rest of this lap? Or do I have to save quite substantially for the rest of this lap so I can eke out another lap?’ I think I did quite well in Beijing with getting the extra lap out compared to everybody else.”
“It’s flat-out all the way through the kink. The next corner looks similar to a couple of corners at Beijing, where it has this nasty little kind of lip on the exit. It looks like the final corner in Beijing where the exit encroaches quite a bit. I reckon this is another area where you can do some lift-and-coast. Again it depends on the width there, but it could be an overtaking zone. But it could be quite a high minimum speed for that sort of corner. We saw the minimum speeds were actually pretty high for the cars in Beijing considering the amount of aero.
“At the exit of 7 keep a high minimum speed. I think you’ll see people running wide, but hopefully there’ll be one of those plastic barriers there because in Beijing we saw people coming off the track onto the grass and then clipping the wall and I think three or four people did gearboxes at one corner so hopefully it won’t be the same thing here.”
“It looks like it has the radius to be close to flat but then you’ve got 10 straight after so you might find yourself not running right to the edge of the track, but it depends on the distance. I don’t think there will be any lift-and-coast into 10, it’ll just be on the brakes. But if you’re coming through 9 nearly flat you could just lift and coast all the way to braking. If it’s not an overtaking zone, then it could be quite useful. Exit is going to be crucial. Someone who’s early on power is going to have an advantage getting down to 12."
“The track is quite a bit shorter than Beijing. I think it’ll be higher in terms of energy output for the distance than we saw in Beijing. It’s a little bit more high speed and there’s some long straights. It’s always going to be challenging in Formula E to execute a good strategy – we saw that from day one at Donington.
“Looking for overtaking zones, you have to say Turn 3, possibly T4, possibly T7 and T12 and maybe T10 down the inside will be the main overtaking zones. I can’t really see anyone making a lunge into 1 – it’s not enough of a brake really.”