The FIA Formula E Championship continues its South American leg of the calendar, with round four set for the capital city of Argentina, Buenos Aires.
Located in the Puerto Madero district, the 12 turn 2.407km circuit looks set to challenge the Renault-Sparks with the cone shaped turns of 14, 15 and 16 sure to test the drivers. In addition, Audi Sport ABT’s simulator work has revealed that the fastest corner is driven at 175 km/h while 200 km/h can be hit at the end of the start-finish straight.
Going into the Buenos Aires ePrix, the big news was with the Andretti Formula E team, with Franck Montagny’s admittance of cocaine use in Putrajaya seemingly ending his Formula E season. In his place, a debut will be handed to Marco Andretti.
“I’ve been looking forward to the chance to get behind the wheel of a Formula E car,” said Andretti. “Having never been in the car, it’s a bit of an unfamiliar situation for me but the team’s pace looks solid enough for a great result. I like unknown situations; I’m up for the task.”
He will be joined by the continuing Jean-Éric Vergne. Impressing in the Punta del Este ePrix, before a late retirement stole the chance of a debut victory, the Frenchman will be looking to register his first points in Formula E.
Other changes include Ho Pin-Tung, with the Chinese driver replacing Antonio Garcia this weekend. Tung had previously been unavailable for the past two rounds due to the Abu Dhabi 12-Hour endurance race.
“Each FIA Formula E race in the inaugural season of this exciting and innovating racing series has proven that the future of motor racing is already here, the first races have shown that full electric racing is real racing!” said Tung. “I do look forward to joining the field again at the grid in Buenos Aires and to give my utmost for Team China.”
He will be joining a team on the rise, with his team-mate Nelson Piquet Jr proving to be one of the stars of the weekend in Uruguay as he stormed to his maiden podium.
As the new series becomes more familiar, more teams begin to find their feet in the championship. After demonstrating great understanding and pace in over a single lap, the e.dams-Renault team had failed to put it together in the race. However, things changed in the last round as Sébastien Buemi took advantage of Vergne’s woes to take his first victory.
The Switzerland born driver’s victory catapulted him into the Driver Standings title race. With Audi Sport ABT’s Lucas Di Grassi picking up podiums in all three races so far, the Brazilian leads by 18 points at the top of the table.
“Three races, three times on podium – things have been going superbly so far,” said Di Grassi. “But we can’t afford to rest on these laurels: the test day following the race in Uruguay has provided the other teams with important information. That’s why the competition in Argentina will even be fiercer.”
That fierce competition is currently in the form of Buemi and Virgin Racing’s Sam Bird, with both tied on 40 points after both having won a race, taken third and retired in three races.
While some of the strugglers including Mahindra Racing, China Racing and Trulli GP all took a step forward in Uruguay, none of the teams will rest on their laurels with Mahindra’s Karun Chandhok aiming for a first podium.
“Punta del Este wasn’t the best weekend for us as a team and we weren’t quite as competitive as we had been in the opening two rounds,” he said. “The test on the Sunday gave us a lot of answers and we’re looking forward to being back out there and on form in Buenos Aires. The aim has to be to try and get a podium soon because we have the potential, we just need to fulfil it.”
Two teams continue to struggle with Amlin Aguri having picked up only six points, and Venturi three. Aguri will be looking at the drivers of Salvador Duran and Antonio Felix da Costa to arrest the slump, while Venturi will hope that Stéphane Sarrazin’s pace in the last test day bodes well in Buenos Aires and that Nick Heidfeld’s luck changes.
On Saturday, the race day begins at 8:15am local time with the first of two practice session. The second session begins at 10:30am before qualifying is at midday. Finally, the race will begin at 4pm local time.