With Round 5 of the FIA Formula E Championship taking place this weekend (March 9) with the inaugural Mexico ePrix, we decided to learn more about what it’s like to be behind the wheel of the Renault Z.E.15. Who better to ask than our very own Sebastien Buemi and Nico Prost?
What is the most difficult aspect of driving a Formula E car?
Sebastien: “Racing on a street circuit at high speeds with walls everywhere, and trying to overtake at the same time, is really tricky. Unlike a normal circuit that has been purpose-built, there is not a lot of grip on everyday roads so we must adapt. Plus every track in Formula E is completely new given that it is such a new championship.”
Nico: “Learning the street circuits is definitely a challenge although I honestly thought it would be much more difficult. Something that is quite unique to Formula E is the format of race day. In other series, you have much more time to adapt and react to any issues but, with practice, qualifying and the race in one day, you don’t have that time.”
What would be your dream circuit?
Sebastien: “Going back to Monaco and doing the full Formula 1 circuit would be awesome. Last season we got to do part of it but it would be great to go back.”
Nico: “I think racing around Times Square in New York would be pretty cool. Make it happen, Formula E!”
How important is the constant communication with your engineers during the race?
Sebastien: “Energy management is obviously one of the biggest challenges in Formula E so it is vital that we have that communication. Energy consumption and regeneration numbers are not transmitted via telemetry during sessions so we need to relay this information to the engineers. Then they can help us manage our strategy; how much battery we have, any loss of power regeneration towards the end of the race and temperature levels, especially given the high temperatures of the locations we go to with Formula E.”
Nico: “Information from our engineers means that we can adapt our driving style to the conditions and situation on track. It’s a constant balancing act for us as drivers between driving aggressively to win the race and driving conservatively to regen more energy.”
Mexico is a brand new track for you guys, so how do you prepare?
Nico: “The team and the guys at Renault will spend a lot of time working with us to perfect the car set-up before each race. The cars are always en route to the next location and testing is limited, so it’s important that we have that dialogue to keep on improving our performance. And of course we will spend a lot of time trying to learn the track.”
Sebastien: “Absolutely, and from our side we’re able to practice on the simulator and study the track layout that the FIA give us. It’s not quite the same as being on the track, of course, but gives us the opportunity to learn it.”
The fifth round of the 2015/16 FIA Formula E Championship, the Mexico ePrix, takes place on March 9. To give Sebastien and Nico an extra boost during the race, vote for them via http://fanboost.fiaformulae.com/#votingframe or the Formula E app. Alternatively, any Twitter post including #FanBoost plus #SebastienBuemi or #NicolasProst will be counted as a vote. You can vote once per day, from 12 days before the event (February 29) until six minutes into the race.
• Mexico ePrix power facts
Track length: 2.092km
Number of corners: 18
Did you know?
Mexico City’s Green Plan, introduced in 2007, emphasises local action, in particular, through initiatives such as the Hoy No Circula (Today Don’t Drive) and Muevete en Bici (Get on your Bike) programmes.
Did you know?
Alain Prost, our Renault e.dams Senior Team Manager, is one of only three drivers who have won the Mexican Grand Prix twice in Formula 1’s history at the Autodromo Hermanos Rodriguez.
Did you know?
The city has a habit of setting unusual world records, including the most people kissing simultaneously (39,879), the most people dancing to Michael Jackson’s “Thriller” at the same time (13,597) and the world’s biggest enchilada (weighing nearly 1.5 tons).