SANTIAGO – Temperatures as high as 35 C (95 F) could present the biggest challenge for the teams that will be competing on Saturday in the Santiago ePrix, the third race of the 2019-2020 Formula E Championship.
The intense heat has been felt since Wednesday by the 12 teams’ mechanics, whose main concern is ensuring that the drivers of the 24 electric open-wheel racing cars can maximize their battery power.
Saturday’s race at the Chilean capital’s Parque O’Higgins street circuit, which features 11 turns, will last just over 45 minutes.
Experts say the batteries will gradually heat up until reaching a temperature of nearly 70 C, or double what the spectators will feel.
Higher temperatures mean lower performance, and so finding a configuration that optimizes the traction battery’s race power output of 200 kilowatts will be critical.
That output allows the cars to achieve maximum speeds of nearly 220 kilometers (137 miles) per hour under the current conditions of the Chilean circuit, several sections of which were modified for this year’s race.
Those small changes will be key to ensuring faster laps, according to British BMW i Andretti Motorsport driver Alexander Sims, the current leader of the drivers’ standings.
He added that he thinks per-lap times will be quicker than in 2019 and, considering that the race format is 45 minutes plus one lap, that should mean more laps completed.
Although the cars all are apparently the same, there are 10 different manufacturers and each team has its own secrets with respect to parts and configurations.
Sims (35 points) has a five-point lead over Belgian Stoffel Vandoorne (Mercedes-Benz EQ Formula E Team) after winning the second race of the season at the Riyadh Street Circuit in Diriyah, Saudi Arabia, which also was the venue for the season’s first race.
He will be the co-favorite on Saturday along with countryman Sam Bird (Envision Virgin Racing, 26 points), who won the opening race of 2019-20 and is currently third in the drivers’ standings. Bird also is the defending champion of the Santiago ePrix.
The action on Saturday will kick off with two practice sessions, followed by an initial qualifying session in which the drivers will be divided into groups and try to be one of six drivers who book a spot in the Super Pole shoot-out, which will determine the grid positions.
The race then is scheduled to begin at 4 pm under the blazing Santiago summer sun.