28 Mar 20
16 Jan 20
Formula E storms back into Santiago for the third round of the 2019/20 season. Ahead of the race on January 18, here's 10 things you probably didn't know about the race in Chile's capital city.
In Santiago last year, Sam Bird became the first driver to record a race win in each of the first five Formula E seasons, a feat equalled by Lucas di Grassi the following race in Mexico City. Of course, with his recent November win in Diriyah, the Brit now stands alone as the only driver to have won a race in every Formula E season.
With a track location set in the heart of the city to the spectacular backdrop of the Andes, Formula E returns to the Chilean capital for the third straight season. Santiago, which means ‘Saint James’, is the country’s largest city with a population over six million and is also the cultural, political and financial centre of Chile.
The third Santiago E-Prix will again be staged approximately three miles away from the Parque Forestal setting used for the inaugural race in 2018, at a circuit on roads inside the O'Higgins Park in the city centre. The circuit runs around the Movistar Arena that sits in the middle of the city’s second biggest public park. For 2020, the layout has been revised, with fewer corners on a slightly shorter 2.3km track featuring 11 turns instead of the 14 from last season. The park hosting the event is named after one of Chile’s founding fathers, Bernardo O’Higgins, who was a leading figure in the country’s fight for emancipation from Spain in the 19th Century.
The venue lies south-west of Santiago’s iconic landmark, the statue of the Immaculate Conception, located at the summit of San Cristobal Hill, almost 900 metres above sea level and approximately 300 metres above the rest of Chile’s capital. Overlooking the city, the 14-metre-tall statue of the Blessed Virgin Mary rests on a pedestal measuring 8.3 metres and can be seen from all over Santiago both day and night.
Last year’s Santiago E-Prix produced the hottest race in Formula E history, when the sweltering heat in scorching Santiago saw record highs recorded in the Chilean capital (where a weather station set a new record of 38.3°C in Santiago on 26 January 2019). Although January is Santiago’s hottest month, with temperatures normally around 30°C (and with the most daily sunshine hours of 11), no-one expected last year’s conditions. Track temperatures reached 45°C here last time around. Incidentally, two years ago, the weather was more in keeping with normal Chilean conditions for the inaugural Santiago E-Prix, which was staged in early February, with a temperature of 29°C at the 4:00pm start of the race, and a track temperature of 36oC.
With its inaugural E-Prix on 3 February 2018, Santiago hosted the first major international championship race in the country’s history. The city had previously held the Chilean Grand Prix, won by Juan Manuel Fangio, in 1950, but it was a non-Championship Formula One race and did not count towards the World Championship of Drivers.
The ninth E-Prix to be staged in South America will be the third in Chile after three in both the Argentine capital Buenos Aires and Punta del Este in Uruguay. The eight previous Formula E races in South America have produced four different winners (3 Buemi, 2 Vergne, 2 Bird, 1 da Costa) and five different polesitters (3 Vergne, 2 Buemi, 1 Bird, 1 di Grassi, 1 d’Ambrosio).
Former Geox Dragon driver Jose Maria Lopez set the best lap time at the Parque O’Higgins circuit last year in Practice 2. The Argentine’s time of 1:08.194 was three seconds quicker than the fastest lap set during the race later in the scorching hot day by Daniel Abt (1:11.263). In the inaugural Santiago E-Prix two years ago, Jean-Eric Vergne also produced the best lap time in second practice at the Parque Forestal circuit, with a time of 1:20.235.
Oliver Turvey will be starting his 50th Formula E race on January 18th in Santiago. He made his series debut at the season-ending 2015 London double header, but has since earned the dubious distinction of holding the record number of Formula E races without a win, having started 49 without success thus far.
The race at the Parque O’Higgins Circuit last year produced no fewer than eight DNFs, which set a new Formula E record (equalled since then in Hong Kong in March 2019). There were 14 classified finishers, which isn’t a record due to the increased field of 22 drivers in the 2018/19 season. 13 finishers is the series’ record low – both at the 2015 Monaco E-Prix and the last London race in 2016.