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Buenos Aires ePrix Preview

Formula E returns after a long mid-season break which has given the teams and drivers a chance to assess their performances in the first two races ahead of the third round in Buenos Aires.

The Puerto Madero Circuit offers the all-electric series something very different, with several high speed corners and straights with heavy breaking zones, all whilst bathing underneath the Argentinean sun.

There is no doubt that, in a typical south American summer, the battery temperatures will be the focus point of the engineers for the race. Indeed, an overheating car was what caused Antonio Felix da Costa to stop on track after securing second place in his Team Aguri.

Rain has been on the radar but it is expected to only be around for FP1. Even so, Formula E drivers have very limited track time before qualifying at the best of times. Losing the morning session will seriously put the drivers and teams under pressure for second practice, which is only half an hour long, to perfect the car set-up and strategy for the race.

Despite his obviously strong pace, we have seen Sebastien Buemi come unstuck in unideal conditions. In a normal weekend, he would be favourite for victory having taken the first two wins of the season.

That said, however, he has not done so from pole position. The inherent raw pace of the Renault eDAMS is yet to be seen, but the car’s efficiency has been what seals the deal for Buemi come the race.

But Buenos Aires has thrown up a few surprises in its short history with Formula E. Mahindra has had a strong start to the season with two podiums and a pole position, and are now setting their ambitions even higher.

The most exciting thing to look out for will be how Felix Rosenqvist handles a race track that is new to him but not to the vast majority of the field. He is exceptionally fast and a joy to watch driving, and team mate Nick Heidfeld will be a crucial asset to get up to speed.

Renault’s customer team Techeetah is yet to fully show their potential. It is known that the team share the best powertrain on the grid with eDAMS, but a messy race in Hong Kong and an operational error on Marrakech which stopped Jean-Eric Vergne taking his Super Pole lap have left many wondering where they actually lie in the pecking order. A clean weekend could give us the answer in Buenos Aires.

DS Virgin won the race with Sam Bird last season, although some might argue that the Briton was outperforming his car in an exceptional drive which saw him fend off Buemi in the closing stages of the race.

It is another team that has had a strong start to the season, but yet to meet their full potential. Jose Maria Lopez has admitted that he is still finding his feet with the sport and his car, which is to be expected in a vastly complicated series.

NextEV are currently running the powertrain set-up which won the race last year, having retained the twin-motor layout. By logic, this should put them in good stead for the weekend. However, despite locking out the front row in Hong Kong, they lacked pace in Marrakech. Questions over their pace remain for now.

Also severely questioning their pace is ABT. The mother of all strategic calls gave Lucas di Grassi the podium in Hong Kong, but Marrakech proved to be a disaster for the team. At no point whatsoever did they show any sign of being able to trouble the frontrunners, with neither driver even making it to Super Pole.

Buenos Aires has not been the kindest circuit to the team in the past, and there is very little evidence to say that 2017 will be the exception.

Despite a relatively weak start to the season, Andretti believe that its hard work over the winter break will put them on the right path to moving up the field. They also believe the high-speed nature of the track will suit their car better than the first two venues on the calendar.

With talents Robin Frijns and Antonio Felix da Costa onboard, failure to perform will unlikely be the fault of the drivers.

Venturi are another team that are relying on their homework to push them up the field. Along with Dragon, they have plenty of pace to make up compared to the rest of the field.

Having gotten the two tricky first races out of the way, the challenge only continues for Jaguar unfortunately as many of the remaining races are ones which all the other teams have previous experience of.

There is no doubt that the newcomers to the sport still have a lot to learn, but so far have been doing so in good fashion.

About Chris Stevens

Chris is one of the graduates of a new blogging era of journalism. Moving from that to fully blown websites, covering Formula One and Formula E, has seen him become an FIA accredited journalist. He also podcasts with various websites.

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