Two days after its unveiling in Santiago de Chile (CHI), the new BMW i8 Coupé Qualcomm Safety Car enjoyed its first race outing. The safety car was soon out on track following a number of crashes on the opening lap of the spectacular fourth race of the season in the ABB FIA Formula E Championship, which was the series’ first appearance in the Chilean capital. MS&AD Andretti Formula E driver António Félix da Costa (POR) recovered from a difficult qualifying to fight back strongly in the race. He eventually came home ninth and was rewarded for his efforts with two points. His team-mate Tom Blomqvist (GBR) also drove well and finished eleventh, just outside the points.
Félix da Costa was the first driver in qualifying group one to embark on his flying lap. That was not ideal, as the grip improved throughout the qualifying session. His fastest lap time of 1:20.132 minutes was only good enough for 16th place on the grid. Blomqvist started the second qualifying session of his Formula E career in group four. He touched the wall in the final sector of his flying lap, and had to settle for a time of 1:20.422 minutes and 18thplace. Pole position went to Jean-Eric Vergne (FRA).
A number of cars were involved in collisions on the opening lap, resulting in a yellow flag period. That meant the new BMW i8 Coupé Qualcomm Safety Car made its first appearance on track during a race. Blomqvist made good progress on lap one, while Félix da Costa had to take evasive action to avoid a crash and dropped back behind his team-mate. However, the Portuguese driver regained his place ahead of Blomqvist at the pit stop, which was held without a minimum time for the first time, and so the race developed into a genuine battle for every tenth of a second. In the second half of the race, Félix da Costa benefitted from being able to stay out a lap longer than the opposition before coming in to switch cars. With more energy at his disposal he was quick in the second car and climbed into ninth place to finish in the points. Blomqvist ended his second Formula E race in eleventh, just outside the points. Victory in the spectacular race went to Vergne.
António Félix da Costa, MS&AD Andretti Formula E: “Unfortunately, I had a poor start position in qualifying, as I was the first driver out and the track was still slippery. There was not a lot more I could have done. Our speed was much better in the race and I was able to stay out for a lap longer than most of the others in my first stint. However, I could then have pushed even harder with the energy in the second car. We are learning every day about energy management, and today was no different. All in all, this result gives me optimism for the races ahead.”
Tom Blomqvist, MS&AD Andretti Formula E: “I touched the wall in the final sector of my qualifying lap. Starting from so far back obviously does not make the race any easier. I kept out of all the turmoil. Eleventh place is ok given that we still have a lot to learn. However, to be honest, I had the feeling that we could still have got more out of that race.”