- Oct 27, 2014
Formula E’s inaugural season continues in the sunshine state this weekend after another two-month break, and predictions remain as difficult as ever with different winners for each of the four races so far.
Biscayne Bay hosts the first of two American rounds with Long Beach next month, and is the location for the 8-turn, 1.35 mile circuit which runs under MacArthur Causeway and loops around AmericanAirlines Arena, Miami Heat's NBA stadium. Following Buenos Aires, Miami’s another case where the pits are separate from the start line. Buenos Aires was also arguably Formula E's best circuit yet, with challenging corners both fast and slow; Miami’s purely 90-degree offering looks less promising by comparison. Granted, I said that before about Punta del Este chicane-heavy track and that produced the best race so far.
At least Miami’s circuit is rather unique for Formula E by being chicane-free, and the long main and back straights should be good slipstreaming territory, but it’s still not the most immediately inspiring layout. Ironically, current weather forecasts suggest there could be showers on Friday and Saturday, something the Formula E cars with their grooved all-weather tyres haven’t already faced this season.
Despite the electric series' very unpredictable state, we have a few consistent performers emerging as championship protagonists, although none of the top three could make big gains at Buenos Aires. Audi Sport ABT’s Lucas di Grassi leads by ten points from Sam Bird for Virgin Racing, with e-Dams’ Sebastien Buemi a further five back. His teammate Nicolas Prost is just one point behind, but the Frenchman would be leading the standings without his last-corner swerve against Nick Heidfeld in Beijing which took them both out.
Speaking of Heidfeld, the Venturi driver has been consistently unlucky, also knocked out by Franck Montagny in Putrajaya and a late penalty which prevented a Buenos Aires win. He has remained calm about the team's title prospects, telling Motorsport.com that "could have, should have doesn’t count for anything, even less in sport." If Heidfeld finally scoring big this weekend would be a surprise, then it really hasn't been his fault. His compatriot, di Grassi’s teammate Daniel Abt, has suffered constant technical woes and partly fell victim to Prost’s zealous defending last time out. Both will hope that with those first races long behind them they experience a turn in fortunes.
Conversely, the most recent race winner Antonio Felix da Costa was fortunate that so many ahead of him had problems or penalties at Buenos Aires, though it remains to be seen if Amlin Aguri will be closer to the front after the electric series’ break, currently 8th in the teams’ championship. Nelson Piquet Jr. has quietly impressed with two consecutive podiums in his China Racing car, and could be another one to watch this weekend, while his teammate Ho-Pin Tung seeks to break his nearly-man status having finished 11th and just outside the points twice already now.
Andretti and Dragon have both made driver changes by bringing in Scott Speed and Loïc Duval, but Andretti’s biggest asset is Jean-Eric Vergne, looking to continue his race-leading debut form at Punta del Este. Mahindra are just hoping nothing goes wrong to let Karun Chandhok and Bruno Senna fully exploit their undeniable pace for once. It's a feeling likely shared by Jarno Trulli, his Trulli team having only scored a single 4th place finish.
So many good drivers in such a new spec series means I’m basically holding off on race-by-race predictions; even championship ones can wait until the last few rounds when the contenders get further ahead. Or maybe it’ll just remain random for the rest of the season, who knows? No-one saw da Costa’s win coming, after all.
Qualifying is at 4pm UTC this Saturday, which you can follow here on RaceDepartment through Formula E’s live online stream. It’s also available for the race or you can watch ITV4’s coverage, starting at 7pm with the race at 8pm.
Will you be watching the ePrix on Saturday? Do you like the look of the circuit? Who do you think will win? Comment below!