Santiago EPrix poses fresh challenge for Mercedes’ Formula E Team

by Nathan Hine
Mercedes-Benz EQ head to Santiago

Mercedes-Benz EQ Formula E Team are hopeful to continue their positive form in the 2019-20 ABB FIA Formula E Championship following the opening two races in the German giant’s inaugural season in the all-electric single-seater racing series.

Heading to the 2020 Santiago ePrix, Mercedes find themselves on top of the teams championship by two points following a successful opening weekend at Ad Diriyah last month. They will hope to build on that form this weekend, but are fully aware that it will be a challenging weekend.

Team Principal of Mercedes-Benz EQ Formula E Team, Ian James said: “Our Formula E debut has provided great motivation for the team. Not only did Nyck and Stoffel do an outstanding job, but the whole team has shown what they are capable of. Besides finishing with two podiums, we showed a certain level of consistency in our performance. However, you could see what Formula E is about: races are unpredictable and the qualifying format provides its own, unique challenge.”

“Over the last weeks, we have had a close look at all we learned during our first races. For Chile, we want to continue on this path. It’s now about retaining the necessary focus. Unlike in Saudi, the high temperatures in Santiago will certainly be a challenge. Therefore, we stick with our original goal to finish with both cars in the points. Above all, the team just wants to get racing again!”

This is the third season that the Chillean capital has featured on the Formula E calendar, and after moving to Parque O’Higgins last year, the track has undergone significant remodelling in all three sectors, which has now been shortened to 2.287 km in length for 2020.

But that has not made it any less demanding, as located in the heart of the city parkland, the drivers will negotiate eleven turns in all; eight to the left and three to the right. Half of the track is taken at full-throttle, with the newly-modified track should also produce the highest top speeds of the season.

Lying second in the points classification after the opening two races is Mercedes’ leading driver Stoffel Vandoorne on 30 points, just five behind points leader Alexander Sims.

The Belgian driver in his second season in Formula E is hopeful of another positive weekend and said: “We’ve had quite a long break since the season’s first two races in Saudi Arabia. It almost feels like they happened absolutely ages ago, so I’m really looking forward to finally racing again. Santiago will be an enormous challenge for us. It was extremely hot there last year and things will be the same this time around. It’s one of the toughest races of the season, especially when it comes to dealing with the heat which places huge stresses and strains on drivers, cars and batteries. I hope we can repeat our performance from Diriyah this weekend. Our team made a fantastic debut.”

It is expected that temperatures will be their highest of the season as air temperatures reached as high as 38 degrees last year and track temperatures of almost 46 degrees, making the 2019 edition of the Santiago ePrix the hottest Formula E race to date. It is expected to be slightly cooler this year, but air temperature highs of 34 degrees are still expected.

After a cracking opening gambit in Ad Diriyah last month, Nyck De Vries is confident of another positive showing here in Santiago.

The Dutchman said: “We’re heading to Santiago for the second race weekend of the season to get the new year started. We’ve had a short break since the Diriyah season opener, but I would have preferred it to have been not quite so long. I thought we were well prepared for Saudi Arabia and had a good weekend, which is why I would have liked to have continued racing and to have built on our success straightaway, but at the same time, it was also nice to relax a little after a hard year.

I would love to take the momentum of a good first weekend with me into the rest of the season but we are well aware of the challenges that now face us and know just how strong the competition is. That’s why we’re taking things one step at a time and keeping both feet firmly on the ground. We intend to focus on the task in hand and not allow ourselves to be deluded by our positive start.”

The 2020 Santiago EPrix will get underway on Saturday 18 January at 4 pm local time for the third round of the championship

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