Andretti Formula E team’s new look partnership of the returning Jean-Eric Vergne and debutant Marco Andretti saw mixed success at the Buenos Aires ePrix, as Vergne battled near the front for sixth while Andretti had a tough learning curve on the way to twelfth.
With Franck Montagny looking unlikely to return for Formula E, it meant Andretti was thrown into the deep end and his inexperience showed in the practice sessions as he took 19th before improving to 14th in the morning.
With over an hour to learn the unique Renault–Spark, the American did show growing familiarity with the electric car. In qualifying, he was able to take a solid 14th for the ePrix.
Come the race, Andretti suffered a setback as he lost several places on the first lap. The American was able to recover and move up the grid before the arrival of the safety car following Mahindra Racing’s Karun Chandhok’s retirement.
Having pitted just before the safety car, Andretti was caught out by the BMW and was unable to pass to catch the back of the field and take advantage of the other’s later pitstops.
“During the race, as soon as I saw the yellow I came in,” he said. “In IndyCar we would have been right at the front, but for some reason they held me behind the pace car and we are yet to figure out why, so that was frustrating.”
Despite the frustration, he was able to battle his way to twelfth. With the Miami ePrix next on the calendar, the American will be pleased that he can head to his home race with more experience.
“It was an interesting weekend and the series is quite unique,” said Andretti. “I enjoyed myself; it’s a great challenge coming from IndyCar, with very low grip, but I think that the technology is exciting. I think there is a lot to improve on from my end as far as the conserve mode and the overall pace, so I am not that thrilled with 12th for the first go round, but hopefully we can build on that. If we can just tidy it all up for the States we’ll have a good package.”
For Vergne it was business as usual as the Frenchman showed his talent honed in Formula 1, as he battled from sixth up to second with few laps remaining.
However, Argentinian conditions soon played a part, as the Renault-Spark overheated on the final lap, forcing Vergne to drive conservatively to the finish and take sixth.
“It was a really eventful and good race until the last lap when I had some problems with over-heating of the battery,” he said. “The first car had some unexplainable problems so we had to stop one lap early and I had to be really slow so as not to use too much energy, so we have to investigate this problem. Nevertheless we were second on the last lap until I had a problem where I lost power. This was a long lap and quite frustrating to see everyone pass me by on the straight and I could not do anything about that.”