Santiago Formula E Preview
I’m just on my way to Chile for my next race as I write this, and I must admit that when I started my career that wasn’t something I thought I’d ever say! The capital city of Santiago is our destination for the next round of the FIA Formula E Championship with DS Virgin Racing. It’s a brand-new track on the calendar and the first-ever international motor race in Chile, so as if Formula E hadn’t broken enough new ground already, it’s doing it again.
I’ve never been to Chile, and the only time I’ve ever been to South America is for the Buenos Aires Formula E race last year, when I was reserve driver for DS Virgin Racing. It’s a 14-hour flight direct from Heathrow to Santiago – pretty much the longest non-stop flight you can do – so I’ll be hoping I get some decent sleep on the plane…
We’ve done a lot of preparation as usual on the simulator at the Citroen racing headquarters in Paris. In fact, I’ve done one day more than I usually have. I feel we are really well prepared and know reasonably well what to expect. Because it’s a new circuit, we’ve worked properly hard on this one because we see it as a chance to take an initiative.
So how do we load the track onto the simulator if no one has been there? The FIA sends over a lot of details on coordinates and corners, and it’s a mixture of that and google maps. There’s a guy at Citroen who does our simulator and pieces everything together, and he always comes up with a great track – every time it’s very close to reality.
I think the track is going to be really good. 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. I think the characteristics of our car and powertrain will suit it quite nicely. Obviously, we go into each weekend confident, but this weekend even more so. We know deep down that if we do a good job we should be fighting at the front – and that’s not just hope, it’s expectation.
The other good news is that the images of the next-generation Formula E car, which comes in for the 2018-19 season, were made public yesterday. I really like it – it’s radical, it’s different and does a very impressive job of incorporating the new halo safety measure. Actually, to me it looks a bit sportscaresque – and to me sportscars are some of the most beautiful cars ever made. The new Formula E really ticks the box with its styling. It says everything about Formula E and exactly where the category is heading.
In the meantime, it’s great to be in Chile this weekend for the first of three consecutive Formula E races in Latin America, with Mexico City and Punta del Este in Uruguay coming up afterwards in March. I’ve heard loads of really nice things about the city of Santiago, and I’m very proud to be part of the first-ever Formula E race in Chile.