01 Dec 20
10 Jul 20
To get you back up to speed over the next few weeks ahead of the nine-day six-race showdown in Berlin, starting August 5, we're re-running all five rounds of the 2019/20 ABB FIA Formula E Championship to-date. Next up: six talking points from Round 3 - Parque O'Higgins in Santiago, Chile.
Formula E headed to Santiago in January off the back of a Diriyah double-header. Mercedes-Benz EQ enjoyed a record start for a debutant outfit in Saudi Arabia, with two podiums in its first two events thanks to Stoffel Vandoorne, ensuring it would arrive in Chile atop the Teams' standings.
It was BMW i Andretti Motorsport's Alex Sims leading the way in the Drivers' Championship, though, following his victory in Round 2. The Brit had been on a golden run of three pole positions and finally managed to convert with a commanding lights-to-flag victory.
Reigning champion Jean-Eric Vergne and DS Techeetah, meanwhile, were left licking their wounds after mechanical trouble and a practice shunt stunted JEV's progress. Antonio Felix da Costa struggled, too, managing a best of 10th place in Round 2. Would Santiago be kinder on the big cats?
Formula E put fans in the driving seat with the official debut of Driver's Eye at the 2020 Antofagasta Minerals Santiago E-Prix.
The pioneering camera technology transmits live footage from behind the visor, direct to broadcast, bringing viewers into the cockpit at a tight, technical and twisty Formula E street circuit - with every bump, brush with a wall and overtaking manoeuvre laid bare.
The tech is a world-first in any category of FIA-sanctioned single-seater racing and sits insite the protective padding within the helmet - right in line with the drivers' eye level.
Measuring eight millimetres in diameter and weighing just two and a half grams, the camera took many months of research together with the FIA and the teams in order to fine-tune the finishing product ready for race conditions.
"Driver’s Eye shows fans exactly what I am seeing during a race in real time," said Rokit Venturi Racing driver Felipe Massa. "It gives the viewers insight into the tight and challenging city-centre circuits that we race on in Formula E and it demonstrates what drivers need to manage and control over the course of a race.
"I like tech like this. It brings fans even closer to the action. Driver’s Eye is a great way to show the work that goes on behind the wheel."
Audi Sport Abt Schaeffler's Lucas di Grassi staged an epic recovery in the scorching heat of Santiago, which saw him fly through the pack to the tune of 15 places gained - notching him some valuable championship points in Santiago. Speaking after the race, the Brazilian driver claimed the finish felt like a win and his 'best race in Formula E.'
The 2016/17 Formula E champion left himself with it all to do in the race having failed to make it through to Super Pole in qualifying by some way - eventually lining up 22nd on the grid.
Stranded at the back of the grid, and with the ultra-high level of competition between teams and drivers in the series, it would have needed a miracle to reach the top ten and recover points. Funnily enough, that's what di Grassi produced - working wonders to cut through the field and pinch six points.
"It was very good recovery, moving from practically last place to seventh and gaining six points, which are very important for the championship," said the Audi driver.
"I passed 15 drivers. It was definitely one of my best races in Formula E in terms of pace and being able to come back all that way in a field as compatitive as this. I kept getting stuck in the wrong position on the track and was losing a lot of time. We showed we had excellent pace and it would have been very competitive had we got it right in qualifying.
"Nevertheless, I thought finishing in seventh was a fantastic result and I was extremely happy with it. What happened during qualifying was out of our control, hopefully the situation won’t repeat itself.”
The race at the Parque O’Higgins Circuit produced no fewer than eight DNFs in 2018/19, which - at the time - set a new Formula E record; since equalled in Hong Kong in March 2019.
There were just 14 classified finishers - perilously close to the series' record low of 13 both at the 2015 Monaco E-Prix and the race around Battersea Park in London, 2016.
Six didn't make it this time around, with Andre Lotterer disqualified for exceeding power limits in his TAG Heuer Porsche, whilst Edoardo Mortara (ROKiT Venturi Racing), Brendon Hartley (Geox Dragon), Neel Jani (TAG Heuer Porsche), Jerome D'Ambrosio (Mahindra Racing) and Jean-Eric Vergne - already his second none-finish of the season - failed to make the chequered flag.
Panasonic Jaguar Racing's Mitch Evans said the team had "work to do" after a software problem saw what should have been a clear lights-to-flag victory slip away, leaving the New Zealander to scrabble home third.
Evans had stormed qualifying to take a maiden Julius Baer Pole Position and bag three points but it could have been so much more. He looked commanding in the race, too, until BMW i Andretti Motorsport's Max Guenther slipped past in a perfectly executed move at just over the half-way stage.
"The race sort of slipped from our hands, it was a bit of a strange one," admitted Evans post-race. "Looking at the positives, we got some good points and a podium after having a bad start of the season in Diriyah, so I was happy with that.
"Starting from pole, I wanted to walk away with a win, but we still have work to do. From the start, we had software problems that we had to deal with. I'd never experienced them before.
"I over-consumed energy because I wasn't getting any information and it left me blind with no guidance. It was extremely difficult to manage the race. Equally, it could have been a lot worse. I was happy with the result but it was bittersweet."
A year on since BMW's driver Max Guenther failed to finish the 2019 Santiago E-Prix driving for his former team Geox Dragon, he stormed to victory in a perfectly executed race - clinching his maiden win in Formula E with a daring now or never move on the final lap.
It was some battle with Antonio Felix da Costa in the DS Techeetah, who was chasing his first race win with the team. Da Costa moved beyond Evans' ailing Jaguar and went about hunting Guenther who had climbed to the front of the pack past Mahindra Racing's Pascal Wehrlein earlier in the encounter.
Holding out, Guenther maintained the lead with less than three minutes left on the clock. With both cars entering Turn 10 together, Da Costa forced the BMW driver wide, creating the space for a move up the inside to snatch the lead at the last.
With less than 60 seconds to run, Guenther wouldn't be denied and was back on the attack, right onto Da Costa's diffuser. Both had the same level of energy to play with and in a straight fight, the BMW man stormed by Da Costa into Turn 9, regaining a hard-earned lead, where he stayed.
"It's a dream come true," said Guenther after the chequered flag. "For all of us it was about managing the race in hot conditions and it was a straight fight for the win.
"Having not made a great start on the dirty side of the track, which cost me a position, we used the ATTACK MODES very cleverly. That allowed me to take the lead. In that heat, it was also important to keep an eye on the temperature of the batteries. We did that really well.
"On the final lap, Antonio had to coast a little earlier than me on the straight. I thought to myself ‘now or never’ and went for the overtake. Fortunately, it came off!"
He didn't hold on for the win, with Guenther stealing in at the last, but DS Techeetah man Antonio Felix da Costa secured the team's best result of the season with second place in Santiago.
After a torrid start to the campaign for both Da Costa and team-mate Jean-Eric Vergne - the defending champion - the Portugese provided a crumb of comfort, though JEV once again couldn't make the finish and retired from the running at Parque O'Higgins.
“It was great to have a first podium and to fight for a win with my new team already when we are only three races in," he said post-race. "We’ve still got some work to do because that should have been our win today but we’re still a new team and we’ve still got some things to get on top of.
"We made a mistake with the energy and I thought we were good to go, so I overtook for the lead of the race but had to slow down pretty quickly after to manage the temperature. It was better to finish second and get the points than not finishing the race at all.”
Keep your eye on fiaformulae.com for our look back at Round 4 of the 2019/20 ABB FIA Formula E Championship from Mexico City.