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Santiago Thursday Notebook

Sam Smith’s first notebook from Santiago, the site of Round 3 of the Formula E season…

Photo: Sam Smith

***The future of the Hong Kong E-Prix is believed to be under considerable threat according to key sources in the city. A directive by the FIA to the Hong Kong ASN has requested a lengthening of the existing layout for a 2020 event should it get a slot on next season’s calendar.

***“They will need to extend [the circuit] to 2.2 km the following season, especially when two more teams are expected to enter the E-Prix. The existing circuit will be too crowded for the increased number of teams,” Hong Kong Automobile Association governor Lawrence Yu Kam-kei told the South China Morning Post last week.

***A spokesperson for Formula E told e-racing365 that a resolution to the issues is currently being addressed. “We are working closely with local authorities and there is good will to find a solution for all parties,” they confirmed.

***As revealed by e-racing365 last October, the Berlin E-Prix timetable has been altered to accommodate the German soccer final on May 25.

***The two practice sessions at the Tempelhof track will now take place on Friday afternoon at 3:30 and 6 p.m. local time, while qualifying will be at 8:45 a.m. on Saturday. The Berlin E-Prix itself will start at 1 p.m., while the Jaguar I-Pace eTROPHY race is scheduled for after the E-Prix at 3:15 p.m.

***GEOX Dragon driver Max Guenther says that the tight chicane which breaks up the arcing curve in sector two of the Parque O’Higgins track could prove a critical part of this weekend’s race.

***”At the moment from the sim it looks like there are no kerbs but it could well be that some will be added ahead of the race,” he told e-racing365. “We are prepared for each but either way it will be a crucial part of the circuit with a really high speed approach.”

***New asphalt is understood to have been laid in the park last November. Several key Formula E staff travelled out to oversee the surface laying including new Formula E sporting manager Frederic Espinos.

***Part of the circuit uses the new surface while the rest, including the start/finish straight, is an old concrete layer believed to be similar to, but not as abrasive as, the Berlin Tempelhof track.

***The sprawling O’Higgins parkland area is named after Chilean independence leader Bernardo O’Higgins Riquelme who is considered one of the founding fathers of the South American country.

***This weekend’s race, the second running of the Santiago E-Prix, could prove to be the hottest race in the all-electric series’ four year history. Local forecasts indicate temperatures reaching 100 degrees Fahrenheit (38 Celsius) by race start on Saturday afternoon.

***The heat is sure to cause teams headaches managing their cooling systems in the extreme temperatures. All teams have tested privately in similar conditions with the majority having run at Calafat during the summer. Audi Sport ABT Schaeffler undertook several days in hot conditions at the Mallorca test track, meanwhile.

***James Barclay, the Chairman of the Formula E Teams & Manufacturers Association, believes that, while Formula E should try and minimize clashes with Formula 1, it is inevitable that some E-Prix will be on the same weekend.

***“For me not enough credit is given to Formula E Operations for the job they do in getting some of these fantastic races on,” Barclay told e-racing365. “Many have tried and failed to put such events on and I think they deserve our support and praise for doing it. Clashes should be minimized as it isn’t ideal but on the whole the job Alberto [Longo] and his team do is tremendous.”

***BMW i Andretti Motorsport team principal Roger Griffiths says that plans for a Formula 1-style summer shutdown break later this year are still being discussed but are proving difficult to schedule effectively.

***“It’s a challenging championship, it’s challenging technically, challenging operationally,” Griffiths told e-racing365. “The motivation is there to do it. It’s just how do we do it to suit the environment of Formula E because you’ve got OEMs, manufacturers that run multiple programs, you have race teams that run multiple programs. It’s not easy.”

***DS Techeetah team principal Mark Preston says that a renewed level of confidence is permeating the team since its partnership with DS Automobiles was confirmed last summer.

***“There are always things you can do but it feels like we are as prepared and ready as we have ever been as a team,” Preston told e-racing365.

“When most of the elements are to a good level and the right package then you are fine tuning things from that point on. We have been quick across all sessions, so we are feeling confident as a complete entity now.”

***Mahindra Racing team principal Dilbagh Gill says he has “serious expectations” for his new driver Pascal Wehrlein’s Formula E career. Despite being taken out of the race in Marrakesh, Wehrlein was lauded for qualifying sixth on his maiden appearance.

***“He is just 24 and has already been in F1 and a DTM champion so I think the expectation is fair because he is very capable,” Gill told e-racing365. “He is the same age as Felix when he came to us. He has a different temperament definitely. He is shy and unfortunately I think sometimes this is perceived as arrogance which is very wrong.”

***Mahindra’s head of engineering Vinit Patel says that the hierarchy revealed in Marrakesh might be turned on its head this weekend in Santiago largely due to the lack of time in doing affective simulator work and the close proximity of the two races.

***“Everyone has been doing as much as they can [on the sim] and with it being a brand-new race track there will be a whole host of other things to think about as well,” Patel told e-racing365. “I think Santiago will be a bit more unpredictable, but as the season goes on, we will see people converging on solutions for sure.”

***VW has announced its first production location for electric vehicles in North America, with a plant based in Chattanooga, Tennessee. The manufacturing giant is investing €700m in the facility which will create 1,000 new jobs and see the first car roll off its production line in 2022.

***Panasonic Jaguar Racing’s Nelson Piquet Jr. spent some of the period between Marrakesh and Santiago at Jaguar’s cold climate testing facility at Arjeplog in Sweden last week. Piquet was promoting the manufacturer’s Arctic Ice Challenge along with actor Luke Evans.

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. Avatar

    Old Trombone

    January 25, 2019 at 10:11 am

  2. Avatar

    Old Trombone

    January 25, 2019 at 10:21 am

    Dang that O’Higgins guy is like a combination of William the [Bastard] Conqueror, and George Washington! The British are freakn lucky he was born in his mother’s homeland instead of his Irish father’s. Chile is lucky too. Thanks E-R365 and Chile FE for teaching me about O’Higgins!

  3. Avatar

    Old Trombone

    January 25, 2019 at 10:40 am

    The only way to enforce a break is to have the engineers’ room on camera, and all computers in that room offline. It would add a great deal of between-race drama for fans to be able to watch streams of the engineers at work in that room developing parts “live”. Of course rules on copying delay time would be needed, but rulemaking is Agag’s team’s job. Then they could make the rule that the room be empty from August to October.

  4. Avatar

    Old Trombone

    January 25, 2019 at 10:44 am

    Classic divide-n-conquer for VW on lefties. “Do you want you want unions or electric cars, because in Tennessee, you can’t have both!” Gee thanks for the slap to the folks holding you to your own standards…

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