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Santiago Thursday Notebook

Sam Smith’s Thursday notebook from the inaugural Santiago E-Prix…

Photo: Venturi

***The ABB Formula E Championship has reacted to the hot social media topic of the week – the cessation of using grid girls in Formula 1. “We’re glad to welcome F1 to the 21st century,” commented a ABB FIA Formula E Championship spokesperson.

“Formula E stopped using grid girls last year already, but we just didn’t feel the need to shout about it. We’re using a new concept and focusing on grid kids, and where possible we involve young and aspiring drivers that race in junior go-kart championships. It’s a great and emotional experience for these kids.”

***E-racing365 understands that the manufacturers lobbied the FIA last autumn to increase the minimum weight of the powertrain package. This was because estimate weights of what the battery and chassis could weigh would make targets for meeting the minimum weight difficult.

***However, the requests were ultimately not implemented largely due to the weight-saving work on the ‘Gen 2′ car through the use of lightweight materials implemented by the FIA from suppliers Spark Technologies and Dallara.

***Lucas di Grassi’s former engineer Franco Chiocchetti has not travelled to Santiago with the Audi Sport ABT Schaeffler team. Chiocchetti was originally due to leave the team sometime after attending this weekend’s event but is now completing his notice period in Germany.

***Di Grassi’s race engineer will now be former ABT and Bentley team member Markus Michelberger who has been integrated into the post since the beginning of the season in what Audi Sport ABT Schaeffler team Principal Allan McNish described as a “handover period”.

***Mahindra took one of its cars to its Chilean distributor, the Gildemeister group, this afternoon. Chile is a key market for the Indian manufacturer and it has sold over 20,000 vehicles since 2012. Nick Heidfeld was on hand to showcase the car at the facility which includes a small proving ground test track.

***Michelin believes that the Santiago track will provide some character traits similar to previous Formula E venues. “It’s like across between Montreal and the second season’s visit to Berlin’s Alexander Platz, while the surface is more like what we have previously seen in Buenos Aires and Paris, with some smooth but cracked asphalt, especially on the bridges,” said Michelin Formula E manager Serge Grisin.

***Alex Yoong is the nominated drivers’ steward in Santiago this weekend. The former Minardi F1 driver makes his first appearance in this position after Andre Couto and Andy Soucek filled the role in the opening two events in Hong Kong and Marrakesh.

***The Chilean ASN is receiving logistical and operational assistance from the Mexican OMDAI body this weekend. Some staff who also worked on the Buenos Aires E-Prix which ran in the first three seasons are also supporting the event.

***The finalization of the work to ready the downtown Santiago circuit will be completed this evening. The roads that make up the track will be shut overnight but must re-open for the rush-hour period between 8 a.m. and 11 a.m. on Friday morning. A shakedown session is due to take place at 3:30 p.m. local time tomorrow.

***Remarkably, the circuit runs through three separate municipalities throughout the Santiago centre. Politically and organizationally the race has been intricate for Formula E, not only due to the multiple municipality arrangements but also because the Chilean government will change soon after former president Sebastian Piñera beat Alejandro Guillier in December’s election.

***Edoardo Mortara reckons that Venturi’s season four package is currently better in the race than in qualifying. “It is slightly more challenging it seems for qualifying with the package we have,” he said. “We have seen in both events so far we are good in energy management in the race but for qualifying it is a different story.”

***Mortara will have some extra support this weekend from the extended family of his Chilean wife Montse Retamal Mortara. “My brother in-law, my niece and some other guests will be here, so it will be very nice to have some added support here in Chile,” he said.

***Mortara’s Venturi teammate Maro Engel has not changed his view on the Marrakesh incident with Nick Heidfeld which also ultimately eliminated his teammate. “In my opinion I felt I was enough alongside Nick and he should have given racing room,” Engel said.

“It was a complex situation with Edo who was deciding to overtake me also. I didn’t feel I was fully responsible for the accident but it doesn’t matter now and we put it all behind us.”

***Pedro Devaud will get a chance to drive the official demonstration car before his home fans on Saturday. The Chilean F3 and F4 driver is looking to further his career this season off the back of finishing as runner-up in last seasons’ domestic Formula 4 Nueva Generacion category.

***Grammy Award-winning singer and entertainer Kylie Minogue will make an appearance at the race this Saturday. The Australian artist, whose hits include ‘Spinning Around’ and ‘Can’t Get You Out of My Head’, has attended motorsport events before, mostly at the Melbourne Formula 1 race.

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 Motorsport.com from 2014-17. Contact Sam

1 Comment

1 Comment

  1. Rodrigo Carmona M

    February 2, 2018 at 5:09 am

    Hi, about Pedro Devaud, he is the current runner up of the chilean rally championship (N3 class) and the 2017 CHAMPION of the Argentinean F4 championship “Nueva Generación”.

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