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Punta del Este Friday Notebook

Sam Smith gathers the Friday news and notes from the Punta del Este paddock….

Photo: Formula E

***E-racing365 understands that experienced technical director and team manager Nigel Beresford is no longer working with the Dragon Racing team. Beresford was instrumental in getting the team started in the ABB FIA Formula E Championship and has been an ever-present figure in the all-electric series since 2014.

***Michelin showcased new sidewall branding on the Season Five specification of tire which has been developed especially for the new car. The new front Michelin Pilot Sport tire weighs 2 kg less, while the rear is 2.5 kg lighter, saving approximately 9 kg – almost 20 percent – per set of four. The new-look tires can be viewed here.

***Michelin’s Serge Grisin has told e-racing365 that the Punta del Este track is not as much as a challenge as the Santiago E-Prix last month. “There are only really two different surfaces here, and while the sand can create a big loss of grip it lucks like we got quite lucky with the wind dying down for the next few days, so it should not be a big issue,” he said.

***Nils Wittich is the Race Director for the Punta del Este as he temporarily replaces Scot Elkins who is at home in the U.S. with his wife in labor. Wittich was previously the Race Director in Formula E but has worked in a new role as Track Inspector this season as the championship readies for Season Five when it will welcome the Jaguar I-PACE eTROPHY.

***Drivers will be requested to stop in a ‘no man’s land’ area of the chicanes at Punta del Este should they miss their turning point during the action this weekend. At two of the four chicanes a blue line designates where the drivers have to blend back in to the action after being required to come to a complete stop. The ‘sausage kerbs’ at the entry to the chicanes have also been removed.

***The infamous floppy bollards that were a feature of the first two Punta del Este races have largely been done away with by the FIA for this Saturday’s action. Just one of them remains at the penultimate chicane. This is the quickest of the four chicanes and the scene of Nelson Piquet Jr.’s accident in 2015 after he tangled with Jean-Eric Vergne. The circuit also features more tech-pro barriers than previously used.

***Piquet believes that the removal of the sausage kerbs at the chicanes will aid drivers attacking the high speed complexes which make up the circuit. “It will be nicer to attack the chicanes without the sausage kerbs,” he said. “The track has also been resurfaced in some parts so it should be less bumpy.”

***Lucas di Grassi will attend the first group manufacturer test in Monteblanco later this month. The Audi Sport ABT Schaeffler team could run its new Season Five car at its Neuburg facility late next week to system check the car ahead of transporting it to Spain for the two days of running.

*** NIO Team Principal Gerry Hughes stated that Luca Filippi “needs a clean weekend without issues” in Punta del Este after a troubled start to his maiden Formula E campaign. “Luca has shown good elements of pace but ultimately the results show how indicative it is that this championship is so difficult,” he said. The Italian has scored one point for his tenth place finish at Hong Kong last December.

***Venturi arrives at Punta del Este this weekend determined to add to its points tally of 24 which puts the Monegasque team seventh in the standings. Technical Manager Franck Baldet said that the team would “more focused on qualifying better” to try and harness its points haul. Both drivers Maro Engel and Edoardo Mortara are making their debuts on the Punta del Este circuit this weekend.

***DS Virgin Racing’s Sam Bird believes that the hazard of sand being blown on the track will be even more of an issue than has been in previous visits to the Uruguyan street circuit. “As this is the first time we have been here with this spec of Michelin tire there are a few unknowns,” Bird told e-racing365. “I can see it being pretty tricky with the surface but a lot will depend on the wind and how much sand gets blown on to the track.”

***Panasonic Jaguar Racing drivers Piquet and Mitch Evans traded in their Formula E cars for unique surfboards made from recycled Jaguar model car materials yesterday. During the design process for Jaguar Land Rover vehicles, including the new all-electric Jaguar I-PACE, polyurethane is used to form the ‘skeleton’ of life-size clay models. The plastic is usually destroyed following its use but as part of Jaguar Racing’s mission of ‘Race to Innovate’ both on and off the track, it was sustainably recycled to make two ‘Waste to Wave’ surfboards.

***Saturday’s race will be by far the longest held at the Punta del Este circuit. The inaugural E-Prix held in December 2014 ran to 31 laps, while the second race in 2015 totalled 33 laps. The third event in Uruguay will run to a distance of 37 laps or one hour plus a lap.

Sam Smith is e-racing365's Formula E Editor. A 20-year veteran in motorsports media, including press officer roles in both the FIA Sportscar Championship and at Lola Group, Smith is a well-known face in the Formula E paddock, where he served as series editor for from 2014-17. Contact Sam

1 Comment

1 Comment

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    March 17, 2018 at 8:25 am

    It lucks like someone got too distracted looking at the beach… 🙂

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