This weekend will go down in the chapters of motorsport history. For the first time ever an electric ePrix will take place, hoping to change the future of the motor industry forever. So what can the teams expect from Beijing?
The 3.44km track will be based around Beijing’s famous Olympic ‘Birds Nest’ Stadium and will feature 20 turns, most of which are either quick chicanes or 90 degree corners. The 25 lap race will see each driver use 2 Spark-Renault electric cars, built by Spark Racing Technology and in collaboration with a variety of manufactures, including McLaren, Williams, Dallara and Michelin.
As with all street tracks, the circuit will be lined with walls and the track itself will be very bumpy, particularly under braking. Expect drivers to be punished for missing their apexes and to get flirtatious with the walls, particularly during qualifying.
The circuit is virtually the opposite of Donington Park where pre-season testing took place, so the teams will be going into the first round of season with little relevant data. Whereas Donington was fast and flowing, Beijing is much more technical with many braking points, allowing for the battery in each car to cool before the driver puts the throttle down again. As a result, we’ll see less overheating problems compared to Donington, where drivers often followed 2 or 3 quick laps with a slow one to cool the battery.
Air temperature is expected to be in the mid 20’s throughout the day and the chance of rain is minimal. Cloud cover could cause some issues with track temperature and therefore tyre warming; as the entire event takes place over one day, we may well see variances in track temperature throughout the event, giving engineers and drivers something to think about. The chance of rain is very low.
There will be two practice sessions at the beginning of the day, giving fans a great opportunity to watch the drivers explore the limit on this new track. Qualifying will follow, with the format involving four groups of five cars. Each group will be given 10 minutes to set a time. The drivers will only be able to use one car during this session but they will have access to full power (200kw / 270bhp) throughout the session. During the ePrix, drivers will be restricted to 150kw of power, however a driver with FanBoost will temporarily be given an increased power output of 180kw for 5 seconds. Fans at the event will also be treated to a range of entertainment, attractions and live music.
In the UK, Formula E coverage will be live on ITV4 from 8am (Highlights 6pm).
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Written by: Anil Parmar