The fourth round of the FIA Formula E Championship in Buenos Aires, Argentina provided all the thrills, spills and excitement that has become associated with the new all-electric series in front of a sell-out crowd of over 20,000 racing fans.
Jean-Éric Vergne (known to all as JEV) returned to the No. 27 Andretti challenger and once again achieved the popular #FanBoost win, with Marco Andretti joining the UK/USA squad in the 28 car to experience Formula E racing for the very first time. After a solid start to the weekend JEV ended P6 and Marco in P12 at the chequer of the Buenos Aires ePrix today with Andretti Formula-E now sitting in fourth place in the overall Team Championship standings.
The usual Friday shakedown for all 10 teams afforded 27-year-old Marco Andretti his first track time in the No. 28 Spark-Renault SRT_01E. At 2.407km in length and featuring 12 turns, the circuit sat in the modern Puerto Madero marina district of the Argentine capital and featured a mix of high-speed corners, chicanes and hairpins. After a morning of torrential rainfall which ceased just prior to running, Marco ended his shakedown laps with a practice car change and felt comfortable with the new technology ahead of today’s qualifying and race event.
This morning brought blistering sunshine and what promised to be a scorching day. JEV had a tough start during the early first practice session when his right rear kissed the wall on the exit to the fast, final chicane. He was soon back up to speed in session two after the team repaired his suspension and ultimately finished free practice in P4. Taking part in group four of qualifying, alongside teammate Marco, the 24-year-old Frenchman ran wide on his hot lap to set what for him was a disappointing sixth-fastest lap time. Marco made a solid start to his inaugural electrified event, taking to the Spark-Renault handling immediately and qualifying in a respectable P14.
The ePrix at 4.00PM endured an ambient temperature of 32 degrees C/89 F and 60% humidity. From the moment the lights went out to the chequer, the Buenos Aires ePrix provided numerous race leader changes, accidental and mechanical incidents, yellow flags and a safety car deployment.
Marco lost a couple of places on the first lap, but soon made up ground until confusion reigned behind, and in front of a lengthy safety car period. The team had called Marco in for his pit-stop just before the incident, however, when re-joining the action he was caught behind the safety car and unable to pass to catch the end of the field and take advantage of the other teams’ pit-stops yet to come. The third-generation Andretti kept his head down and car out of the trouble to finish his maiden 35-lap ePrix in P12.
JEV was in the thick of the action at the sharp end of grid from the word go. After synchronised pit-stops by the Andretti team, he raced up to P2 podium position on the last lap. Over-heating of his second car meant that Jean-Eric had to limp home, lucky to hold on to his original starting position of P6, but claimed an invaluable eight Championship points for the American team.
Roger Griffiths, Team Principal, Andretti Formula-E Team
“A day of highs and lows – from what was looking to be an exciting finish for Andretti Formula-E with a lap to go. Ultimately it was not to be, but on this occasion it was good to secure sixth place with JEV and fourth in Championship for the team. We were very pleased to see Marco adapt to the new environment. He came in to this race with an open mind and no pre-conceived ideas. We are now looking forward to what will be the first of two home races for us in America, starting with a visit to the cosmopolitan city of Miami, but have very much enjoyed our stay here in Argentina.”
Jean-Éric Vergne, No. 27 Spark-Renault SRT_01 E
The Frechman started from the sixth position on the Puerto Madero marina district track
Came to the chequer in P6 after the 27 car suffered from over-heating on the final lap where the 24-year-old was running in second place
“It was a really eventful and good race until the last lap when I had some problems with over-heating of the battery. The first car had some unexplainable problems so we had to stop one lap early and I had to be really slow so as not to use too much energy, so we have to investigate this problem. Nevertheless we were second on the last lap until I had a problem where I lost power. This was a long lap and quite frustrating to see everyone pass me by on the straight and I could not do anything about that. It’s a bit of a shame, but we have some more points and Andretti is now up to fourth in the Team Championship which is good.”
Marco Andretti, No. 28 Spark-Renault SRT_01 E
This weekend’s only American driver made his Formula E debut starting from P14
The third-generation racer came home in a respectful 12th position after getting caught behind the safety car following his pit-stop
“It was an interesting weekend and the series is quite unique! I enjoyed myself; it’s a great challenge coming from IndyCar, with very low grip, but I think that the technology is exciting. I think there is a lot to improve on from my end as far as the conserve mode and the overall pace, so I am not that thrilled with 12th for the first go round, but hopefully we can build on that. During the race, as soon as I saw the yellow I came in, and in IndyCar we would have been right at the front, but for some reason they held me behind the pace car and we are yet to figure out why, so that was frustrating. If we can just tidy it all up for the States we’ll have a good package.”
Andretti Formula-E Team is now fourth in the FIA Formula E Championship with 41 points. The fifth round of competition takes place in 62 days in Biscayne Bay, Miami, United States of America on 14 March, 2015. For information about the Andretti Formula-E Team, visit www.fiaformulae.com/andretti and stay up to date on Twitter via @AndrettiFE.