25 Jan 19

Pre-race round-up: Mahindra 'not the underdog,' BMW drivers 'free' to fight

With two races already done and dusted, we've seen five different drivers on the podium, traveled to two continents and seen chaos reign supreme. Now, it's almost time to unleash all 22 Gen2 cars on to the leafy streets of Santiago in Chile as we prepare for the 2019 Antofagasta Minerals Santiago E-Prix on Saturday 26.  

Santiago race city icon

Catch all the action at the 2019 Antofagasta Minerals Santiago E-Prix

With the first win going to BMW i Andretti Motorsport's Antonio Felix da Costa and the second to Mahindra Racing's Jerome d'Ambrosio, the firm favourites are yet to take to the top step of the podium after an entirely unpredictable start to the season. With just hours to go until the lights go green in Santiago's Parque O'Higgins, here's the top storylines to look out for on race day. 

what to look out for in Santiago

Mahindra 'here to challenge'

After finishing last season in fourth place, Mahindra Racing started a fresh in the 2018/19 season with new drivers Jerome d'Ambrosio and Pascal Wehrlein making their debut for the team in Saudi Arabia. With d'Ambrosio finding himself on the podium twice in the past two races (third in Saudi and first in Marrakesh), the Belgian driver has single-handedly catapulted the team to second place in the standings. 

"We're here to compete...we're not the underdog," insists Team Principal Dilbagh Gill. 

"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 Jerome as a solid driver...we should see some more success from him this year," says the Indian team boss.   


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Chile heatwave 

Despite the backdrop of the snow-capped Andes mountains, it's sweltering in Santiago with temperatures predicted to rise well above 35ºC on race day. As the drivers face boiling hot conditions, "it's going to tricky out there," says Audi Sport Abt Schaeffler's Daniel Abt. "It looks like it's going to be tough on the tyres with the temperatures but also on the drivetrain and battery." With two Practice sessions, Qualification and the race all in one day, will all drivers manage to keep their cool? 

Unfamiliar streets in Santiago

After racing around Parque Forestal last season, the second race in Santiago sees a brand new a 2.348km, 14-Turn circuit snake its way around Parque O’Higgins and the Movistar Arena. Named after one of Chile’s founding fathers, Bernardo O’Higgins, the park is the second largest in the city with mixed surfaces threatening to make life difficult for our drivers. 

"The concrete will be really challenging," maintains Geox Dragon's Jose Maria Lopez."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," added the Argentinian driver. 

For Panasonic Jaguar Racing's Nelson Piquet Jr it's simply, "it's a great track, with great weather in a great country." What more could you want?

BMW i drivers 'free' to fight

Despite a disastrous breakdown in communication between both BMW i Andretti Motorsport drivers (Alexander Sims and Antonio Felix da Costa) in Marrakesh, which cost them a sure one-two win, the Portuguese driver insists he "won't be taking it any easier out there." 

"We'll do things differently, sure...and we'll be taking care of situations like that but we're free to race each other, that's for sure." 

With da Costa still "hungry" for another victory after clinching the win in the season opener, expect to see more battles between the BMW drivers as they continue to challenge for the lead.

formula e da costa santiago

Santiago 'feels like home' for Pechito 

Following on from a shocking race in Santiago last season, in which Geox Dragon's Jose Maria Lopez’s race ended after just 25 seconds on track when he hit the barrier at Turn 4, the Argentinian driver admits he would find it "difficult to do worse this year." Growing up just 600 miles away from the Chilean capital in Argentina’s Cordoba province, "this is the race that feels like home for me," says the seasoned Formula E driver. "I have my family and friends, brothers - everyone is going to be here."

formula e drivers take a selfie
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