2018 Santiago ePrix
The 2018 Santiago ePrix (formally the 2018 ABB FIA Formula E Antofagasta Minerals Santiago ePrix) was a Formula E electric car race held at the Santiago Street Circuit in the Chilean capital city of Santiago on 3 February 2018. It was the fourth round of the 2017–18 Formula E season and the inaugural running of the event. The 37-lap race was won by Techeetah driver Jean-Éric Vergne after starting from pole position. Vergne's teammate André Lotterer finished second and e.Dams-Renault driver Sébastien Buemi came in third.
|2018 Santiago ePrix|
|Race 4 of 12 of the 2017–18 Formula E season|
|Date||3 February 2018|
|Official name||2018 ABB FIA Formula E Antofagasta Minerals Santiago ePrix|
|Location||Parque Forestal Ciudad de Santiago, Santiago|
|Course length||1.529 miles (2.461 km)|
|Distance||37 laps, 56.603 miles (91.094 km)|
|Time||1:20.235 on lap 30|
Vergne won the pole position by posting the fastest lap in qualifying and maintained his startline advantage heading into the first corner and fended off pressure from Nelson Piquet Jr. in the opening stages of the race that was initially neutralised for four laps after two cars were left stranded at the side of the track from getting involved in separate accidents on the first lap. Vergne kept the lead after everyone made their mandatory pit stops for the change into a second car and his teammate Lotterer was now second after passing Piquet beforehand. Lotterer made two attempts at getting ahead of Vergne who was saving electrical energy due to a loss in pit-to-car radio communication but was unsuccessful. Thus, Vergne held the lead for the rest of the ePrix to clinch his second career victory and Lotterer came second to achieve the first one-two finish in Formula E history.
The result moved Vergne to the lead of the Drivers' Championship for the first time with 71 points, five ahead of previous leader Felix Rosenqvist. Sam Bird came fifth and it dropped him to third as Buemi's third-place finish moved him to fourth and Piquet rounded out the top five. Techeetah's strong result meant they now led the Teams' Championship with their nearest rivals Mahindra two points adrift in second. Virgin fell to third while e.Dams-Renault moved to fourth with eight races left in the season.
In February 2017 a diplomatic committee led by former driver Eliseo Salazar began discussions with Formula E CEO Alejandro Agag in Buenos Aires about the possibility of holding a race in the Chilean capital of Santiago. The ePrix was officially confirmed by the world governing body of motorsport, the Fédération Internationale de l'Automobile (FIA), in June, and was added to the 2017–18 Formula E calendar by the FIA World Motor Sport Council three months later. It was the fourth of twelve scheduled single seater electric car races of the season and took place on 3 February 2018. Prior to the event, a non-championship Formula One race won by Juan Manuel Fangio was held on the streets of Santiago in 1950. The press predicted the ePrix would be the largest sporting event in Chile since the 1962 FIFA World Cup, and organisers expected 20,000 people in attendance.
Heading into the ePrix Mahindra driver Felix Rosenqvist was leading the Drivers' Championship with 54 points, four ahead of his nearest rival Sam Bird in second position and a further seven in front of Jean-Éric Vergne in third. Nelson Piquet Jr. was fourth with 25 points and Edoardo Mortara (24 points) was the highest-placed rookie in fifth. In the Teams' Championship, Mahindra were in the lead with 75 points and held an 18-point advantage over Virgin in second place. Techeetah and Jaguar stood in third and fourth with 43 and 40 points respectively and Venturi rounded out the top five with 30 points accrued.
Starting from Santiago onwards, the minimum pit stop time, which had been implemented since the championship started in 2014, was discarded. It came after the world governing body of motorsport, the Fédération Internationale de l'Automobile (FIA), deferred the ruling at the preceding Marrakesh ePrix three weeks prior to the Santiago race after teams raised concerns over safety. To prepare for the change, chassis manufacturer Spark Racing Technology designed a seat belt similar to those employed in endurance racing which aimed to improve the efficiency of its application and enhance safety for all teams and drivers. Some teams were handed samples to practice with. The FIA later permitted teams to employ spotters behind the pit lane wall and directly opposite their garages so they could guide their drivers into their correct stopping positions. Someone holding a sign to direct the driver into their garages was allowed to move outside the boundaries of their pit box.
The layout of the 1.53-mile (2.46 km) clockwise twelve-turn track was unveiled on 12 October 2017. Drivers started on Santa Maria Avenue before crossing the Mapocho River and then passed through Parque Forestal before returning to Santa Maria Avenue to complete a lap of the circuit. Construction of the track began on 22 January, twelve days before the race, and finished on 2 February. In response to concerns over several dogs frequenting the Parque Forestal, a local veterinary company was employed to feed them in non-circuit areas in an attempt to stop them straying onto the circuit during the weekend. Piquet spoke of his belief that the layout of the track would be "technical", while the series manager of the championship's sole tyre supplier Michelin stated that he felt the circuit would be a mixture of the Montreal and the Berlin Street Circuits.
Practice and qualifyingEdit
Two practice sessions—both on Saturday morning—were held before the late afternoon race. The first session ran for 45 minutes and the second lasted half an hour. A half an hour untimed shakedown session was held on Friday afternoon to enable teams to check the reliability of their cars and their electronic systems. The track was cleaned overnight after drivers described the tarmac surface as dirty and slippery, but nobody chose to set a lap time at 200 kW (270 hp) as several participants ventured onto the track's run-off areas after locking their tyres. Bird set the fastest lap in the cold first practice session at 1 minute and 19.439 seconds, more than two-tenths of a second faster than any one else on the circuit. Rosenqvist, Vergne, Mitch Evans, André Lotterer, Alex Lynn, José María López, Mortara, Oliver Turvey and Piquet rounded out the top ten drivers. Sébastien Buemi pushed, and lost control of his car's rear after losing grip leaving turn twelve. Buemi clouted a tyre barrier, damaging his right-rear suspension and curtailing his session prematurely. Race director Scot Elkins stopped the session with three minutes to go when Maro Engel locked his brakes and understeered into the turn three TecPro barrier, damaging his front wing. Engel was unhurt.
In the second practice session, Vergne used 200 kilowatts (270 hp) of power to set the fastest lap of the whole race meeting at 1 minute and 18.662 seconds. Lynn followed three-hundredths of a second behind in second and Evans followed in third. The Mahindra duo of Nick Heidfeld and Rosenqvist were fourth and fifth and Bird, Mortara, Daniel Abt, Buemi and Lucas di Grassi completed the top ten ahead of qualifying. Ten minutes into practice, Piquet slid into the turn three run-off area and stopped his vehicle before he could impact the barrier. López had an oversteer that caused him to make light contact with the turn one wall but was able to return to the pit lane and switch into a second car. Nico Prost ran wide driving towards the 90-degree left-hand turn nine and ploughed into the barrier, removing his rear wing, and prematurely ending the session with five minutes remaining.
Saturday's afternoon qualifying session ran for an hour and was divided into four groups of five cars. Each group was determined by a lottery system and was permitted six minutes of on-track activity. All drivers were limited to two timed laps with one at maximum power. The fastest five overall competitors in the four groups participated in a "Super Pole" session with one driver on the track at any time going out in reverse order from fifth to first. Each of the five drivers was limited to one timed lap and the starting order was determined by the competitor's fastest times (Super Pole from first to fifth, and group qualifying from sixth to twentieth). The driver and team who recorded the fastest time were awarded three points towards their respective championships. Car grip appeared to be affected as track temperatures rose between second practice and qualifying and this saw many drivers glancing or narrowly avoiding the tyre barriers.
In the first group of five runners, Buemi was the early pace setter with Abt placing second. Heidfeld came third and António Félix da Costa took fourth. Evans locked his brakes, meaning he drove straight into the turn three barrier, and began from the tenth row of the grid. Bird was the fastest driver in the second group, followed by Vergne in second and Piquet third. Rosenqvist was fourth-quickest after making some driving errors, and Mortara locked his front left wheel heading into the hairpin, meaning he was the slowest driver in the second group. Lynn was the quickest driver in the third group, going a tenth of a second faster than his closest challenger Turvey. Prost was third-fastest while López and Engel rounded out the third group's slowest two drivers. Di Grassi was the initial pace setter in group four until Lotterer surprised everyone by setting the fastest overall lap time of all drivers in the group stages at 1 minute and 18.796 seconds. Jérôme d'Ambrosio (Dragon), Tom Blomqvist (Andretti) and Luca Filippi (NIO) rounded out group four's top five.
At the end of group qualifying, the lap times recorded by Lotterer, di Grassi, Bird, Vergne and Buemi advanced them to super pole. Vergne took his second pole position of the season and the sixth of his career with a time of 1 minute and 19.161 seconds. He was joined on the front row of the grid by Buemi who was 0.194 seconds slower. Di Grassi was unable to replicate his pace from group qualifying and was third. Lotterer hit a bump in the tarmac surface entering turn one, and broke his front wing against the turn one wall. Lotterer slowed for the remainder of his lap as the front wing slowly lodged itself under his car's bodywork. Bird lost control of the rear of his car entering the turn five and six double-right hand turn through carrying too much speed into the corner. Bird struck a TecPro barrier with his vehicle's rear but was able to drive back to pit lane for a replacement rear wing and the session was briefly red-flagged. After qualifying, di Grassi was automatically demoted ten places on the grid for changing his inverter, and Prost dropped two places for exceeding the number of permitted laps. The rest of the grid lined up after penalties as Piquet, Lynn, Turvey, López, Abt, Prost, Engel, d'Ambrosio, di Grassi, Rosenqvist, Heidfeld, Félix da Costa, Mortara, Blomqvist, Filippi and Evans.
The race began at 16:00 Chile Summer Time (UTC+03:00). Weather conditions at the start were hot and sunny and the air temperature ranged from 29.1 to 29.9 °C (84.4 to 85.8 °F) and the track temperature was between 36.1 and 36.67 °C (96.98 and 98.01 °F). A special feature of Formula E is the "Fan Boost" feature, an additional 100 kilowatts (130 hp) of power to use in the driver's second car. The three drivers who were allowed to use the boost were determined by a fan vote. For the Santiago race, Buemi, di Grassi and López were handed the extra power. After his poor qualifying performance, NIO started Filippi from the pit lane for tactical reasons. On the grid, Vergne maintained his pole position advantage to lead the field heading into the first corner. Piquet made a quick getaway from fifth and moved to second and Vergne resisted his efforts to move past. Lotterer moved ahead of the slow-starting Buemi for third place. Similarly, a brisk getaway from López gained him three places. López attempted to overtake Bird around the outside at turn four but this resulted in him putting López into the tyre wall.
As drivers swerved to avoid piling into López's stricken car, Abt's rear wheel was hit by Heidfeld on the approach to turn four, causing both of their car's suspensions to fracture. Heidfeld made an unscheduled pit stop while Abt continued circulating the track for a short period of time before doing the same. Engel drew alongside Turvey under braking for turn five and the pair made contact after Turvey out-braked him. Three corners later, Engel got a run on Turvey around the outside and further contact was made at the ninth corner, fracturing Engel's left-rear suspension. Engel then became the race's second retiree when Rosenqvist lunged him on the outside line heading towards turn nine, putting him over to the exit and damaged the car's front-left corner, sending him into a right-hand side wall. These incidents prompted Elkins to order the deployment of the safety car to allow marshals to extract the cars from the circuit. All surviving vehicles were ordered to drive through the pit lane to prevent any impediment of the recovery work.
Amidst all the action, Rosenqvist moved from fourteenth to eleventh while Evans gained eight positions over the same distance in spite of a ten-second penalty for changing one of his car's inverters before the start of the ePrix. The safety car was withdrawn after five laps and Vergne led the field back up to speed at the restart. Piquet was caught off guard, and Vergne distanced himself as Piquet fended off Lotterer and Buemi. Despite this, Piquet closed back up to Vergne. While attacking Vergne, Piquet ran into the rear of the latter's car, detaching its left-rear wheel guard. Piquet chose not to brake later than Vergne as he feared he would be put in the wall like in the 2017 Monaco ePrix. Henceforth, the ePrix began to stagnate as the few battle for positions on the circuit could not be completed due to the circuit's tight nature. The fastest lap of the race was exchanged between Vergne and Piquet later on as the latter started to form another challenge for the lead. However, Piquet was distanced by Vergne who was looking to extend his advantage at the front of the field before the pit stop phase.
Further back, Abt joined the list of retirements when he drove into his garage because of a loss in power after completing seven laps. Although it was difficult to overtake owing to the tight nature of the circuit, overtaking opportunities occurred throughout the field. Lotterer made an attempt at getting ahead of Piquet for second place but he did not succeed. Di Grassi passed Turvey for eighth, while Mortara half spun on lap 13, dropping him to seventeenth. Di Grassi got ahead of Prost to move into seventh soon after. Lotterer steered left onto the inside line and overtook Piquet for second place heading towards the turn three right-hander on the nineteenth lap. The mandatory pit stops for the change into a second car began on lap twenty when the leaders drove into the pit lane. Bird and Félix da Costa led the field for one lap before making their own stops. After the completion of the pit stops, the Techeetahs of Vergne and Lotterer retained first and second while Piquet kept third. Swift work from his pit crew moved Rosenqvist to fifth place while Bird dropped to seventh.
Four cars were affected by problems over the next six laps. An electrical problem slowed di Grassi and he stopped in the centre of the track at the exit of the pit lane to retire on lap 23. Turvey lost power in his car leaving the pit lane and performed a full reset to continue driving. Heidfeld lacked electrical energy to complete the race in his second vehicle and parked inside his garage to retire on lap 26. A gearbox issue traced to an accessory production deviation ended Lynn's race early while in seventh two laps later. As the two Techeetahs began to battle for the lead due to both drivers losing radio communication with their garage owing to a pit lane technical failure and causing Vergne to conserve electrical energy, Buemi used FanBoost to attack Piquet on lap 28 but the latter fended off the manoeuvre. Further round the lap, Buemi tried again, and was successful this time round, moving past Piquet for third at the turn eight hairpin.
At the front of the pack on the following lap, Lotterer attempted to overtake teammate Vergne around the outside for the lead but was forced wide by the latter. Later, Buemi and Piquet were battling for third position. It ended when Piquet locked his brakes during an overtake on Buemi around the inside into turn three and went into the run-off area. Piquet then lightly hit a TecPro barrier and fell to sixth. Bird set the race's fastest lap on the 30th lap, completing a circuit in 1 minute and 20.235 seconds, earning him one point. Meanwhile, Lotterer was focused on closing the distance between himself and teammate Vergne. Driving on the main straight on lap 33, Lotterer attacked Vergne and his attempt caused him to lock his tyres. Lotterer lodged his front nose cone into the rear wing of Vergne's car, pushing him through the braking phase for turn three. Both drivers made the corner without significant damage. This enabled Buemi, Rosenqvist and Bird to close up, and the top five jostled for position on the bumpy tarmac surface for the remaining four laps.
Buemi, Rosenqvist and Bird ran close together but electrical energy management restricted their attempts at overtaking, while Vergne successfully fended off teammate Lotterer for the rest of the race by having more usable electrical energy to clinch his second career victory. With Lotterer second, Techeetah secured the first one-two finish in Formula E history. Buemi took third to complete the final spot on the podium. Off the podium, Rosenqvist finished fourth with Bird close behind in fifth. The Jaguar duo of Piquet and Evans were sixth and seventh and d'Ambrosio, Félix da Costa and Prost rounded out the top ten. Outside the top ten, the final classified finishers were Blomqvist, Filippi, Mortara and Turvey. There was one lead change throughout the race and two drivers reached the front of the field. Vergne led for a total of 36 laps, out of 37.
The top three drivers appeared on the podium to collect their trophies and spoke to the media in a later press conference. Vergne spoke of his relief over winning the race and said that he hoped the success would strive his team into achieving more but noted the close competition that is seen in Formula E: "It would be wrong to focus at the championship at the moment because it is won at the end of the season, not now. [This competition] is extremely tough and you need to be on it every time because as soon as you make a small mistake you pay in cash." Lotterer was euphoric over him finishing second after a poor start to his season due to misfortune, putting it down to additional set-up work undertaken by Techeetah in their simulator in the run-up to the ePrix which led to an improved understanding on how his car worked. Third-place finisher Buemi revealed that a chassis defect reappeared from the season-opening Hong Kong double header and this led to him losing electrical energy and overall pace. He urged his team to focus on rectifying the issue but reserved congratulations for Techeetah on their achievement.
Techeetah and Dragon were placed under investigation by the stewards on the Saturday evening after the race for issues relating to their car's seat belts. Techeetah were issued with a €15,000 fine for each of their cars while Dragon were handed the same penalty for d'Ambrosio's vehicle, which the FIA mandated full payment within 48 hours. It came after the FIA deemed both teams to have modified the harness of the seat belts without consulting its technical delegate before they installed the extra components. However, unlike previous rulings in series history, the penalties did not alter the final result of the race. Reaction to the penalty was negative with several individuals within Formula E expressing their anger over the inconsistency in how the FIA made their rulings and the message it sent to the public. Mark Preston, team principal of Techeetah, suggested the wording of the regulations established by the FIA was unclear and the sport's governing body responded by announcing they would clarify the rules before the Mexico City round. The motorsport press theorised the ruling was made after discord among fans and series figures was evident after Abt's disqualification from the victory in Hong Kong and spoke of their belief that Techeetah's achievements possibly swayed the FIA into not disqualifying them.
Engel spoke of his displeasure over retiring on the opening lap of the race, accusing Turvey of causing the contact purposefully but stated his feeling that Rosenqvist was ahead of him by the time he went into the wall. Turvey did not respond to Engel's accusations. Audi team principal Allan McNish revealed his puzzlement that Abt has not had the same unreliability as his teammate di Grassi and was uncertain if it was the same problem as experienced in Marrakesh, "That's the frustrating part for us, for Lucas, and for the guys that put in so much effort from Marrakech until now. We thought we'd got a solution and we came away with no points." Di Grassi described the situation concerning the unreliability of his car as "unbelievable", "To have so many issues consecutively, like that, it's really frustrating because we have the pace. The first thing in racing that you learn is to win a race, first you have to finish. We're not finishing any races." Concerning their collision at turn five on the first lap, Abt accepted an apology from Heidfeld over Twitter after Heidfeld admitted to causing it.
The result moved Vergne to the lead of the Drivers' Championship for the first time in his career with 71 points. Rosenqvist's fourth-place finish dropped him to second while Bird fell to third another five points adrift from Vergne. Buemi gained two places and Piquet dropped to fifth by coming sixth. Techeetah's one-two finish meant they now led the Teams' Championship with 89 points, two ahead of Mahindra in second place. Virgin fell to third while Jaguar maintained fourth position. e.Dams-Renault's efforts moved them into the top five with eight races left in the season.
The route of the track came under criticism from residents of Barrio Lastarria who argued that the result of the race would lead to the further impoverishment of the existing roadside infrastructure and the natural scenery. Claudio Orrego, the intendent of the Santiago Metropolitan Region, later admitted to the press that the natural scenery would be left untouched and the installation of bleachers would not be undertaken. Furthermore, a group of local residents filed an appeal for protection before the Court of Appeal to cancel the race but it was rejected on 31 January. On 20 February, the mayor of Santiago Felipe Alessandri announced that Formula E could remain in the city but Parque Forestal was no longer authorised for competitive racing.
Despite Orrego's promise, several residents reported that some cobblestones had been damaged in Purísima Street after the asphalt layer that was intended to protect from any sort of impoverishment was removed. Additionally, while the trackside structures were being dismantled, a truck collided with the Rebeca Matte Bello designed sculpture of Daedalus and Icarus that is mounted at the entrance to the Chilean National Museum of Fine Arts, moving it from its base and fracturing one of the statues's legs. This prompted race organisers to take responsibility for covering all expenses associated with the restoration of the sculpture.
|3||1||Lucas di Grassi||Audi||1:19.673||+0.512||131|
|6||3||Nelson Piquet Jr.||Jaguar||1:19.300||+0.504||5|
|10||6||José María López||Dragon-Penske||1:19.662||+0.866||8|
|16||28||António Félix da Costa||Andretti-BMW||1:20.132||+1.336||16|
- ^1 — Lucas Di Grassi was deducted ten grid places for changing his inverter.
- ^2 — Nico Prost was deducted two grid places for exceeding the permitted number of laps during qualifying.
|6||3||Nelson Piquet Jr.||Jaguar||37||+6.364||5||8|
|9||28||António Félix da Costa||Andretti-BMW||37||+14.811||16||2|
|Ret||1||Lucas di Grassi||Audi||21||Power||13||—|
|Ret||6||José María López||Dragon-Penske||0||Accident||8||—|
Standings after the raceEdit
- Notes: Only the top five positions are included for both sets of standings.
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