Beijing ePrix Preview: Buemi looks supreme

Formula E Beijing Friday
FIA Formula E Championship 2015/16. Beijing ePrix, Beijing, China.   Photo: Sam Bloxham

Formula E returns for its sophomore season on Saturday 24th October for the Beijing ePrix around the former Olympic Park.

Beijing Track Guide, credit: fiaformulae.com
Beijing Track Guide, credit: fiaformulae.com

Last year’s inaugural race is probably best remembered for Nick Heidfeld’s terrifying last-lap crash. Heidfeld and Nico Prost had been running first and second before coming together, handing the win to Lucas di Grassi.

For season two, Formula E becomes an open championship: having raced identical cars designed by Spark Renault in season one, the teams and manufacturers are now permitted to develop their own powertrain solutions.

This has resulted in many different solutions, as teams and manufacturers have been permitted to develop the parts of the car from the battery backwards. This includes the gearbox, rear suspension and motor.

Read on for a round-up of news and developments, as well as a recap of the rules and regulations of Formula E.

Latest news

Practice

Sam Bird set the initial pace, but could only ultimately fifth as Renault e.dams blitzed the competition with an impressive 1-2.

Reigning champion Nelson Piquet Jr suffered a throttle problem and crashed whilst exiting the pits. After switching chassis, he developed another technical issue and finished at the bottom of the timing sheets.

Jacques Villeneuve spun on his attempt to set a fast lap and could only manage 16th.

ABT then took top honours in the second practice session, with Lucas di Grassi topping the timesheet.

Simona de Silvestro crashed in the final moments, resulting in the session ending prematurely.

Qualifying

Nelson Piquet Jr will start the Beijing ePrix in last position after issues in practice refused to resolve themselves.

Stephane Sarrazin of Venturi almost made the Super Pole shoot-out, and finished in 6th. Jacques Villeneuve qualified in 12th place and Brits Sam Bird and Oliver Turvey could only manage 9th and 15th respectively.

The Super Pole contenders were Nico Prost, Sebastian Buemi, Lucas di Grassi, Nick Heidfeld and Jean-Eric Vergne. Those expecting the drivers to trade, pardon the expression, super lap after super lap were sadly disappointed, as Lucas di Grassi’s Jean-Eric Vergne’s attempts were ruined by lock ups. Prost initially took top honours, before his teammate Sebastian Buemi blitzed his time to take pole position.

  1. Sebastian Buemi
  2. Nico Prost
  3. Nick Heidfeld
  4. Lucas di Grassi
  5. Jean-Eric Vergne
  6. Stephane Sarrazin
  7. Bruno Senna
  8. Loic Duval
  9. Sam Bird
  10. Jerome D’Ambrosio
  11. Daniel Abt
  12. Jacques Villeneuve
  13. Robin Frijns
  14. Simona de Silvestro
  15. Oliver Turvey
  16. Antonio Felix da Costa
  17. Nathanael Berthon
  18. Nelson Piquet Jr.

Trulli to miss Beijing ePrix

Trulli have announced that they will not be taking part in this weekend’s ePrix. The team’s engines and inverters are stuck in customs, causing them to fail scrutineering.

We are very sorry to announce that we unfortunately, won’t be able to compete in tomorrow’s race as our engines and inverters are still at the Beijing customs, which has made it impossible for us to complete our cars in time for today’s scrutineering and therefore we will not be able to participate in tomorrow’s race – Lucio Cavuto, Trulli Team Principal

Prost breaks lap record

This year, the cars are said to be lapping four seconds laster than in season one. Though part of this may be down to a few tweaks to the track, including the removal of a chicane after Turn 2, it points to some impressive leaps forward by the teams and manufacturers.

What is Formula E?

The Rules

Put simply – 10 teams. 20 drivers. 40 cars.

A pit stop, rather than changing tyres or bodywork, involves the driver jumping out of their spent first car and into a fully charged identical car on stand-by.

The series races on unique street circuits all around the world. Season two will have 11 rounds in 10 cities including Buenos Aires, Long Beach, and Moscow before the season ends in London.

A new Friday practice session has been introduced for this year, in addition to two sessions on Saturday morning.

There are four initial qualifying sessions, where five cars take to the track to determine their race position. This decides positions 6-20.

A Super-Pole session then follows, where the five fastest cars return to the circuit in a pole position shoot-out.

The race begins with a standing start and lasts approximately 50 minutes.

How does FanBoost work?

FanBoost aims to increase audience engagement by allowing fans to vote for their favourite driver to receive a power boost.

For season two, fans can continue to vote during the first few minutes of a race to boost their driver. As well as being able to vote on the official Formula E website, fans can now use a hashtag voting system on Twitter and Instagram.

To submit your vote using a hashtag you must include #FanBoost plus a hashtag followed by the full name of the one driver you wish to vote for.

For a helpful guide to FanBoost, check out Formula E’s handy video.

Who to watch out for

Nelson Piquet jr is the reigning champion, and his team NEXTEV appear to have a strong package for season two.

Sebastian Buemi was only a point behind Piquet in the Drivers’ Championship and is also tipped to have another strong season.

The ABT team were incredibly impressive at pre-season testing at Donington Park – could they be favourites for the constructors title this year?

Timetable

08:15 / 01:15 Non-qualifying practice 1
10:30 / 03:30 Non-qualifying practice 2
12:00 / 05:00 Qualifying Group 1
12:10 / 05:10 Qualifying Group 2
12:20 / 05:20 Qualifying Group 3
12:30 / 05:30 Qualifying Group 4
12:45 / 05:45 Super Pole
16:00 / 09:00 Race
17:05 / 10:05 Podium

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