SANTIAGO – British driver Alexander Sims (BMW i Andretti Motorsport), currently the points leader in the Formula E Championship, expects the heat of the austral summer and a faster pace due to track adjustments to weigh heavily on the outcome of the Santiago Grand Prix.
While the 45-minute race will again take place in the capital’s O’Higgins Park, organizers tinkered with the circuit to allow for faster speeds. And the temperature at Saturday’s 4.03 pm start time is forecast to be 35 C (95 F).
“Probably the biggest challenge we will face is the temperature here in Santiago. It is very warm, so we’ve had to do some extra preparation for coping with the ambient temperature being high,” Sims told Efe.
The heat takes a toll not only on the drivers and pit crews, but on the cars as well, especially the batteries.
“Certainly, the battery temperature will be something we will need to manage. The battery can get up to around 70 C (158 F) and after that you start to lose power quite quickly and so we need to make sure we keep it under that. Which at the end of the race, it normally gets very close,” Sims said.
Sims, who leads the Formula E driver standings by 5 points over Belgium’s Stoffel Vandoorne after two races, said that the speeds will be higher this year thanks to minor modifications of the track.
“Compared to last year I think the lap time should be faster, so we will probably do more laps in the race because the race is on time, not on the number of laps,” the Briton said.
He pointed to the elimination of a chicane on a crucial stretch of the course and to the new complications introduced on Turn 9.
“There will be plenty of opportunity for the driver to make up lots of time if you get it right, but also the more on the limit you try to make, the easier it will be to maybe lock a wheel and completely mess up qualifying by going pass the corner. It is a high-pressure situation, but I think there could be some good overtaking opportunities in the race,” he said.
Sims is aware his position as points leader will make him a target for competitors.
“It’s nice to be leading the championship. Obviously, we are very early in the season, but I hadn’t led the championship before last season, so it is nice to score a lot of points in the first two races. The team did a really good job and we have a good preparation,” he said.
He also knows that he and the top drivers will have to contend with dust in the qualifying round.
“I am expecting the dust situation, particularly in qualifying, to be similar to last year. So in Formula E we have four groups in qualifying and Group One is full of the top people in the championship and so it is likely that we are going to be struggling a bit more in qualifying compared to the other races where there is not so much dust,” he said.