The season is now underway and after all the speculation through testing and worry from fans and broadcasters alike as to whether the second season would live up to the excitement and action that the first season brought, Formula E heads to its second round: the 2015 Putrajaya ePrix.
Beijing ePrix Look Back
Although the paddock and fans were unanimous in their opinion that the Beijing track layout was not the most inspiring in the world, the race proved that Formula E has lost none of its flare. The race brought out some great scraps with plenty of overtaking and surprise results as well as several incidents.
Renault e.Dams appear to have made the most headway during the pre-season with Sebastien Buemi winning the race by over ten seconds from Lucas di Grassi and Nick Heidfeld. Teammate to Buemi Nicolas Prost looked set to complete the podium were it not for a rear wing failure forcing him to retire. This allowed Mahindra’s Heidfeld to secure third and the team’s first podium, showing that the Indian marque is much more of a contender this year than last. ABT Schaeffler Audi Sport also showed good pace to be the next best after e.Dams. Meanwhile, Dragon Racing showed good potential, outracing their power suppliers Venturi.
Team Aguri’s Nathanael Berthon and Andretti’s Robin Frijns scored points with Berthon finishing in eighth despite having last year’s power train, with Frijns promoted to 10th after Daniel Abt was penalised after the race. Frijns’ teammate and the only female on the grid Simona de Silvestro crashed out early on in the race.
DS Virgin Racing didn’t make much of an impact at all with both cars running up front in the early stages before being forced to conserve energy with Sam Bird finishing in seventh while Jean-Eric Vergne ended up outside the points.
Mahindra’s Bruno Senna looked set to bolster teammate Heidfeld’s result with a top five finish on the cards. However, the Brazilian suffered a disastrous pit stop, which saw him come out in last place. Heidfeld also suffered from a slow stop losing two positions. Senna clawed back to 13th place by the end of the race in front of Venturi rookie Jacques Villeneuve who was caught up in a collision when Aguri’s Antonio Felix da Costa clambered into the back of the Frenchman. Villeneuve was able to continue while the Portuguese racer was out immediately.
Reigning champion Nelson Piquet Jr and NEXTEV TCR struggled hugely with the Brazilian finishing last. However teammate Oliver Turvey put in a surprise result to claim sixth.
Formula E Wants More For Malaysia
Although the fans came out in force in Beijing, the TV ratings were less than hoped for. In the UK, one of the main markets for Formula E, they struggled. The F1 Broadcasting Blog reported that “The ePrix, airing live on Saturday morning on ITV4 from 08:00 to 10:30, averaged just 88k (1.4%) – the third lowest for the series, only behind Putrajaya and Moscow from season one”. Those figures suggest that support has waned for the series. However, social media interaction would suggest otherwise. The main issue appeared to be the time of the event and advertising, which the series will want to rectify before Putrajaya. However, the Malaysian race is on very early in the morning due to heavy typhoons being a problem in the city during the afternoon.
2015 Putrajaya ePrix Preview
This Saturday the Formula E circus returns to Malaysia for a second race. At this point it is hard to see anyone beating e.Dams and Buemi for that matter. Audi Abt will almost certainly be a close second while the remainder of the top five will be a battle between Dragon and Mahindra. What will be interesting to see is whether DS can fare any better, seeing as Sam Bird won this race back in 2014.
NEXTEV will want to sort out their reliability issues with Piquet stopping out on track several times during testing and in Beijing. And the entire paddock will want to see the Trulli Formula E Team and their drivers Salvador Duran and Vintantonio Liuzzi take to the track. The team had their powertrains held by customs while in China and therefore could not complete their car for FIA inspection and were forced to not participate. The team really struggled during testing. However, rumors are rife that they will not be able to participate in Malaysia either with the time frame to short to retrieve their Motomatica power trains from Chinese customs and then to transport them to Malaysia. The task made all the more difficult by the fact the team chose not to have DHL transport their cars as the other teams do, due to cost issues. The team arranging transport for themselves instead.
Other things to look out for will be how Jacques Villeneuve fares after he spent most of the Beijing ePrix at the back of the field as well as Simona de Silvestro for Amlin Andretti.
After missing the Beijing ePrix due to a problem at customs, the Trulli team has retrieved all of the parts seized and will be on the grid with their drivers Tonio Liuzzi and Salvador Duran.
With so little time between races, teams will not have had time to develop parts of their car, however, whether Aguri and Andretti who are the only teams using season one technology, can continue to outscore their more advanced rivals will be a fascinating scene to watch.
Race day starts on Saturday 7th November.