CBMM Niobium Punta del Este E-Prix: Pre-race roundup & Podcast

"We have nothing to lose, so we can be as aggressive as we want," said Audi Sport Abt Schaeffler driver Lucas di Grassi boldly, ahead of the 2018 CBMM Niobium Punta del Este E-Prix.

After the reigning champ managed to secure his first points of the season in Mexico City (albeit just three), after finishing the race without a technical failure. "For us, Mexico was a relief because the car lasted the whole race and we didn't have any reliability issues. That means that for this race, I have no penalties, which is a great start to the weekend." Despite his optimism, Lucas di Grassi still sits second from the bottom in the standings, a full 78 points off Jean-Eric Vergne in the lead. "The target is to win the races - at the moment, I'm not thinking about the championship," admitted the Brazilian driver.

Starting the race here in Uruguay second in the standings is championship hopefull Felix Rosenqvist (Mahindra Racing), who suffered sudden reliability issues in Mexico, putting a stop to what could have been an easy victory for the 26-year-old Swede. "I still don't even know what happened but we're quite sure that it won't happen again," said Rosenqvist. As we build up to the title - crossing the halfway point this race - you can feel things changing and which drivers to keep an eye on. JEV is looking quite solid but it's still open. It's getting even more interesting."

With 36 points between Panasonic Jaguar Racing's Nelson Piquet Jn. - fifth in the standings - and JEV in first, the championship title is still up for grabs. "You have the top 10 guys in the championship who I think can win the race. But, it's Formula E, you never know who's going to be competitive or not," said Venturi Formula E's rookie driver Edoardo Mortara. New to the all-electric series this season, the Swiss driver exploded onto the scene with a second place finish in round two of the season opener in Hong Kong but has fallen short of the podium since. Could Punta prove to be his comeback race?

"It's a cool track, I love being here - it's a great atmosphere," said Audi Sport Abt Shaeffler driver Daniel Abt, with renewed confidence after clinching his very first Formula E victory in Mexico City (not counting his short-lived victory in Hong Kong after being disqualified for an administrative error). "It feels like you go on holiday but then you realise you have to go racing! It doesn't get easier - everyone tries to win but I think we [Audi Sport Abt Schaeffler] are in very good shape. It was very important for the team to have a win like that and now we have to try and repeat it here."

With two wins in Punta del Este to his name, Renault e.dams Sebastien Buemi will be looking to for a hattrick here on race day. The top step of the podium has proved elusive for the season two champ so far, despite being the most successful Formula E driver in history, with his podium finish in Mexico City marking 20 podiums in his all-electric racing career. Now 29 points behind the table-topper Vergne, he needs a repeat performance on the shores of Playa Brava to join the title hunt.

After NIO Formula E Team's Oliver Turvey secured his and the teams first ever podium in the series, Turvey will be looking to keep the momentum going for round six. "Formula E is so competitive now, the level of the teams and drivers is really high but I think we've definitely got the pace to be fighting at the front and we showed that in Mexico. I hope we'll be able to carry that forward and get our first victory."

With unpredictable weather conditions in Punta del Este, the chance of a storm on race day and sand on the track, this holiday haven could prove troublesome for the drivers as they line up on the grid of the 2.785km track on Saturday morning. With 37 laps to complete - that's four more than season two, and six more than the inaugural race - it's all to play for as we count down to the 2018 CBMM Niobium Punta del Este E-Prix.

Ahead of the race, Qualifying - which defines the order that the drivers start the race in - takes place at 12:00 (local time) on March 3. The session lasts one hour and sees drivers divided into groups, decided by a lottery conducted in advance. Each driver has six minutes to set their best time, with the top-five drivers proceeding to the Super Pole shoot-out. The groups that the drivers will qualify in are listed below;

Group 1
5 - Maro Engel, Venturi Formula E
7 - Jerome d'Ambrosio, Dragon
27 - Tom Blomqvist, MS&AD Andretti Formula E
1 - Lucas di Grassi, Audi Sport Abt Schaeffler
68 - Luca Filippi, NIO Formula E Team

Group 2
18 - Andre Lotterer, Techeetah
28 - Antonio Felix da Costa, MS&AD Andretti Formula E
36 - Alex Lynn, DS Virgin Racing
6 - Jose Maria Lopez, Dragon
8 - Nico Prost, Renault e.dams

Group 3
66 - Daniel Abt, Audi Sport Abt Schaeffler
20 - Mitch Evans, Panasonic Jaguar Racing
4 - Edoardo Mortara, Venturi Formula E
16 - Oliver Turvey, NIO Formula E Team
23 - Nick Heidfeld, Mahindra Racing

Group 4
25 - Jean-Eric Vergne, Techeetah
19 - Felix Rosenqvist, Mahindra Racing
2 - Sam Bird, DS Virgin Racing
9 - Sebastien Buemi, Renault e.dams
3 - Nelson Piquet Jn. Panasonic Jaguar Racing

*group Qualifying result are provisional pending FIA approval

Still looking for more pre-race goodness? Look no further than our pre-race podcast brought to you by Formula E commentator Jack Nicholls. Click below to listen or here to download.