2016 Buenos Aires ePrix Preview

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The all-electric racing series is back this weekend when the 18-car field will take to the streets of Argentina for the Buenos Aires ePrix.

As the Formula E circus embarks on the 2016 leg of the season, there has been major news to come out over the winter holidays with driver changes galore.

2016 Buenos Aires ePrix Preview

Who’s out?

  1. Jacque Villeneuve- The 1997 Formula One World Champion could only make it three races into the championship before departing his Venturi team. A statement issued by Venturi said:

“The team and the driver have chosen by mutual agreement to end their collaboration”

It comes as no real surprise with the Canadian being outclassed by his teammate Stephane Sarrazin. Villeneuve could only amass an 11th place at the first round in Beijing, a 14th place out in Putrajaya and then could not start what turned out to be his final race out in Punta del Este due to tub damage after crashing in qualifying. It appears the team had enough of the poor results as Sarrazin has managed to tally up 16 points to lie eighth in the championship.

Although reports suggest it was a mutual parting of ways with Villeneuve unhappy with the way Venturi wanted to move in the future. The former F1 champ has been a keen advocate of Formula E and may well pop up at another team as a driver or even in a managerial role.

LWOS Verdict:

It was too soon to replace Villeneuve, especially a man of his talent and experience. The Venturi squad appear to be struggling in house yet again this season, especially with their supply team Dragon out racing them so far this season.

  1. Nathanael Berthon- French GP2 driver has left Team Aguri to focus on his sports car career in the World Endurance Championship. Although he has said he would like to continue to race in Formula E.

His results were not fantastic. A solid debut finishing eighth and collecting four points in a retirement-heavy race was the only highlight. A low point coming at his final race in Punta del Este where he blocked and hit DS Virgin compatriot Jean-Eric Vergne several times throughout race day, capping that off with a spin and no points.

LWOS Verdict:

Not a huge loss to the series. Berthon is certainly a competent driver and it is a shame to lose the Frenchman before the Paris ePrix. However, his replacement should fair better despite Berthon’s rigorous test programme with the team pre-season.

Who’s In?

  1. Mike Conway- The 32 year old British former IndyCar winner and Toyota WEC star re-joins the Formula E paddock with Venturi in place of Villeneuve. Conway was previously set to race last season with the Dragon squad but pulled out last minute. Conway brings experience with hybrid technology from the LMP1 tier in the WEC and partners Sarrazin who he already has close ties with:

“Stephane and I have worked together in other series so already there is a good rapport between us. So everything will be easier for me.”

Venturi have not announced whether Conway will be part of the team for the long term but they have stated that he will race this weekend in Buenos Aires and again in Long Beach for the sixth round.

  1. Salvador Duran- The ever-popular Mexican racer is back with Team Aguri. Having tested with Team Aguri in the pre-season before making the switch to the ill fated Trulli team, the Mexican hasn’t driven since last year’s final round in Battersea Park. An odd moment occurred earlier in the year when Trulli dropped the driver for an alleged breach of contract, however, the team folded soon after that was announced.

Duran has been seen in the paddock for much of the year and it was very much expected for him to make a return in time for the Mexico ePrix this year. Buenos Aires will allow him to warm up in familiar surroundings and he partners his old teammate Antonio Felix da Costa.

Duran proved his worth last season and although Da Costa out-shined him, Duran hadn’t raced for many years before his return. He scored several points finishes throughout the rest of the 2014/15 season and will surely do so this season as he helps Aguri develop their powertrain for season three.

The Track

At 2.479km in length and featuring 12 turns, the circuit is located in the popular and modern Puerto Madero district to the east of the Argentine capital of Buenos Aires. It consists of a mix of high-speed corners, chicanes and hairpins which Aguri driver Antonio Felix da Costa mastered last time out to win Aguri’s so far only race from eighth on the grid.

Sebastien Buemi and e.Dams head their as the odds on favourites, however, Abt driver Lucas di Grassi is only one point behind the Swiss in the drivers standings.

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