New territory awaits Formula E drivers in Santiago

Felix Rosenqvist returns to parc ferme with Sebastien Buemi following the Marrakesh E-Prix Sam Bloxham/LAT Images/FIA Formula E via Getty Images

After races in Hong Kong and Marrakesh opened the 2017/18 Formula E season in style, new ground will be broken this weekend when the all-electric series stops in the Chilean capital of Santiago.

Not only is the Santiago E-Prix the maiden race of its kind in the area, it will also be the first instance of single-seater racing in the city since the 1950 Chilean Grand Prix, when Juan Manuel Fangio took the chequered flag.

The Track

Likened to the circuit layouts used in Montreal and Berlin in previous seasons, the surface used on the Parque Forestal Ciudad De Santiago features smooth but cracked asphalt, as was the case in Buenos Aires and Paris.

At just under 2.5km (1.54miles), the technical-looking, 12-turn circuit takes drivers through the centre of downtown Santiago, starting from Santa Maria Avenue. From the grid, the drivers will cross the Mapocho river, round the Plazza Baquedano, and race through the Forestal Park before reaching the start-finish line again.

Although the unfamiliarity of the track may level the proverbial playing field somewhat during qualifying and the early stages of the 37-lap race, don't be surprised if the Championship pace-setters come to the fore in the latter stages of the contest.

From a political and organizational perspective, the Santiago E-Prix has proved to be something of a logistical nightmare, though - the Chilean government will change soon following December's presidential election in the country, and the circuit runs through three separate municipalities.

Season so far

The new Formula E season started with a double-header in Hong Kong, with British DS Virgin driver Sam Bird holding off Techeetah's Jean-Eric Vergne despite serving a drive-through penalty for an error in the pits.

Audi Sport ABT Schaeffler's Daniel Abt won the second race in Hong Kong after grabbing the lead from Edoardo Mortara late on after the Venturi driver crashed into the wall with 2 laps to go, but battled back to finish third. Meanwhile, pole-sitter Felix Rosenqvist (Mahindra Racing) fought back to claim second having spun on the first lap. However, the victory was awarded to Rosenqvist three hours after the race when Abt was disqualified over an issue with his car's technical passport.

In Marrakesh, Rosenqvist took the Championship lead after winning his second successive race, having taken the lead from Renault e.dam's Sébastien Buemi with four laps to go. Bird finished in third and is in second place on the standings heading to Santiago, with Verge in third.

Who said what

"It's great to head back to South America. The course looks really technical and we have spent a lot of time on the simulator preparing for the new track. In Hong Kong and Marrakesh we had positive results and hopefully, I can continue to make progress and get to the front of grid." - Jaguar driver Nelson Piquet Jr.

"It's quite long by Formula E standards - about a 1m20s lap - and we even go over two bridges. There's a lot of undulation - if it's anything like the sim, which I'm fully confident it will be, it's going to be great to drive." - DS Virgin Racing's Alex Lynn.

"It's always exciting visiting a new city and racing on a new track. As such, there's been a lot of preparation to do, especially with the changes to the pit stops. Not everything went the way we wanted at the last race, but we still came away with third place, and we're looking forward to another strong result in Santiago." - DS Virgin Racing's Sam Bird.

Schedule (Saturday, February 3 | all times CAT)

13:00 - Free Practice 1
15:30 - Free Practice 2
17:00 - Qualifying
17:45 - Super Pole
20:00 - Driver Parade
21:00 - Main Race
22:05 - Podium Ceremony