After a long break, Formula E returns this weekend with the scalding Buenos Aires ePrix. The Puerto Madero track has done more than deliver in season one and two, so an unpredictable ePrix is anticipated. Sebastien Buemi leads the way in the standings for Renault e.dams, but the chasing pack are very close and the grid is tighter than ever.
The 2.48Km anti-clockwise circuit boasts 12 corners including a very tight turn five hairpin and a crucial turn ten, where exit speed will be critical to finding pace on the finish straight.
The opening two races of this season has seen a finely balanced battle develop between Mahindra Racing and ABT Schaeffler Audi Sport with both team heading to Buenos Aires tied on 36 points and joint second in the Team Standings.
Renault e.dams are currently leading the way, with Sebastien Buemi winning both races so far and Nico Prost managing consecutive 4th places, but the chasing teams are determined to close the gap to the defending Formula E Champion. We spoke to Mahindra Racing’s Team Principal, Dilbagh Gill, about the team’s opportunity to close the gap to the top spot in Buenos Aires.
“We are confident about taking the fight to Renault e.dams and DS Virgin Racing, we’ve not achieved two podiums so far because of luck, its been down to true performance. The grid is a lot closer this year, the level of competition is much higher.”
– Dilbagh Gill
Mahindra’s drivers, Nick Heidfeld and Felix Rosenqvist have both been at the sharp end of the action, their efforts have given Mahindra their best start to a season so far. Rosenqvist had an incredible showing last time out in Marrakech, picking up pole and scoring the team’s second podium of the season.
Mahindra’s rivals ABT will be hoping to topple the form that the former have found early on this year. ABT’s Lucas Di Grassi is currently Buemi’s closest rival, and finished on the podium at last year’s Buenos Aires ePrix.
Another contender that might topple Sebastien Buemi’s plans for a hat-trick of victories is DS Virgin Racing’s Sam Bird. His record around the Puerto Madero track is a strong one, with a victory over Buemi in season 2 and the fastest lap achieved in season one. The British driver finished just ahead of Rosenqvist’s Mahindra in Marrakech, and will look to carry that form into the upcoming race.
Bird’s teammate, Jose Maria Lopez managed to get off the mark last time out with a vital point that keeps DS Virgin Racing ahead of the Andretti Formula E team in the Team Standings. The Argentinian would be a popular podium clincher for this ePrix and in a race that is historically too chaotic to call, he might get there if he keeps his nose clean.
Mahindra’s Dilbagh Gill offered some insight into the challenges that must be managed during an ePrix.
“There will be stress on energy management. We have to ask, how are we reacting to other teams in terms of conservation? The difference between teams is primarily the drivers and energy management. All of us are close together, Renault are edging us but the gap is much closer. The difference between the best and the worst powertrain is about 1.5%, so energy management strategies are crucial.”
– Dilbagh Gill
Mahindra’s management of Rosenqvist’s energy was clinically executed in Marrakech, the Swedish driver’s battery was completely milked a few hundred metres after crossing the finish line. Given the closeness of the grid in terms of powertrain, the biggest variables are firmly placed into the hands of strategists and racing gloves of drivers.
Predictions for the Buenos Aires ePrix? Buemi is a tempting choice given that in last year’s race, he finished 2nd despite starting 18th. The Swiss driver’s form this year has also been impeccable, but to shake it up, we’re going to go for Felix Rosenqvist or Sam Bird. The Swedish driver has stunned in his opening two races in his debut season with Mahindra, and Sam Bird’s pole-to-win performance at last year’s Buenos Aires ePrix can’t be overlooked either.