Vandoorne: Chile boasts “one of the most tricky corners” in FE
Mercedes driver Stoffel Vandoorne reckons the layout changes made to Santiago’s Park O’Higgins circuit have created “one of the most tricky corners” on the Formula E calendar.
The 1.42-mile venue in the Chilean capital underwent extensive revisions ahead of its second FE race, including the removal of a tight chicane along the long, sweeping left-handed Turn 8. This move follows the FIA and FE working together to eliminate the use such chicanes following a string of high-profile incidents during the 2018-19 campaign.
The flatout corner now leads into a blind 90-degree left-hander that features a change of surface from asphalt to concrete at the apex.
Vandoorne told Motorsport.com: “[For this year] we have the chicane removed, which will make it quite interesting. It’s going to be a super-long straight, super-high speed at the end, and [now] into one of the most tricky corners of the season.
“There’s a high lateral load [on the car], a lot of different Tarmac changes as well. It’s one of the most tricky ones, so qualifying – especially on the 250kW runs, the highest speed we get there – is a big challenge.”
Santiago ePrix track layout
Photo by: FIA Formula E
Photo by: Joe Portlock / Motorsport Images
Nissan e.dams driver and 2015-16 champion Sebastien Buemi added: “I like the fact that we got rid of the chicane. It wasn’t very nice, it was nearly impossible to overtake and was just an opportunity to create a red flag or something like this.
“[Turn 9] will be tough because you will arrive with a lot of speed and you need to slow down a lot. In terms of overtaking possibilities, I don’t think it’s going to be easy because if a guy closes the door you need to go on the outside – it’s is very difficult.”
The track’s opening sequence has also been altered, with Turns 1 and 2 swapping from an open double-apex right-hander to a near-90-degree left turn going into a long right-handed hairpin. Envision Virgin Racing driver Sam Bird – who passed two cars through those turns on route to victory last year – believes the layout changes at that spot will reduce the potential for overtaking.
“The new reformatted 1-2, I think it’s taken away an overtaking opportunity,” Bird told the pre-event press conference.“But the way that they’ve opened the final corner has maybe given a potential overtaking zone into the final hairpin.”
The asphalt section of the circuit between Turns 2 and 8 has also been re-laid after the surface broke up in the hot temperatures last year.
When asked by Motorsport.com if this measure was enough to prevent a repeat, Buemi said: “They changed the asphalt, so normally it should be better. [Last year] it was good until it fell apart. They made the asphalt a little late so they didn’t have time to dry it properly and I think that’s why it broke up.
“Hopefully it’s not going to happen this year. They did a resurface and apparently used a different type of asphalt, so we’ll see if it changes again and if it stays together a bit longer.”
Additional reporting by Alex Kalinauckas
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