Team Aguri will head to the second round of the FIA Formula E Championship, the Putrajaya ePrix, on November 7. Both Antonio Felix da Costa and Nathanaël Berthon will be aiming to score points in Malaysia following an encouraging performance at the opening round in Beijing.
It was a race of mixed fortunes in China. The team saw a great result for Berthon on his Formula E debut, a remarkable drive from 17th to eighth that earned him valuable points. However, despite a strong start and an incredible display of race craft early on, mechanical issues and a collision meant Felix da Costa left the Beijing ePrix empty handed.
Meanwhile, the team believe its decision to continue with the season one powertrain could bear fruit in Malaysia. The Team Aguri drivers were able to make great use of off-season gains in software and power management analysis to progress in China, with Berthon extending his first stint one lap longer than the competition and Felix da Costa running consistently energy rich and on the pace. Both will be looking to once again optimise their driving style and set-up to achieve peak efficiency once more.
The season’s second race takes place in idyllic Putrajaya, a remarkable new-build city with 38% of its area reserved for green space. Not far from the Malaysian capital Kuala Lumpur, the city is named after the country’s first president Tunku Abdul Rahman Putra and was only established in 1995, to ease congestion in the capital city. The city was a national project – only 10% of the materials used in construction came from outside of the country. As well as being home to this beautiful, green city, Malaysia is estimated to hold an astonishing 20% of the world’s animal species, despite having only 2% of the world’s landmass.
The track itself offers a different challenge to the point-and-shoot nature of Beijing’s Olympic Park layout. There are several long, demanding turns, including a fearsome right-hander that leads into to the start/finish straight. The circuit is laid out around the Malaysian Ministry of Finance which, despite its name, makes for a grand backdrop alongside the beautiful Putra mosque nearby.
Soaring temperatures could be a deciding factor at this event. Both drivers must be in top shape for the 33-lap race, as they could lose literally kilograms of sweat in the cockpit. A 2% drop in hydration can lead to a 50% drop in concentration, so drivers will be increasing their fluid intake in the run up to the race.
Antonio Felix da Costa
“We have to have a better race in Putrajaya than we did in Beijing, that’s clear. This is high- level racing, and we have to behave that way – Beijing was a wake up call for everyone, and we need to step up our game. I raced here last year, which is a bonus for me. But I need to deliver a strong lap in qualifying; that way we can save all the hard work battling through the field in the opening few laps. One of the key things to consider in Malaysia is the climate, as temperatures are so high. It was a very tough race last year but it’s the same for everyone, and that’s what we train for. It’s also going to be a challenge for the thermal efficiency of the powertrain; we could find ourselves losing out a little bit to the newer, better optimised tech. That said we still have the advantage of knowing our equipment inside out. Let’s see.”
“It was a great start in Beijing, and I’m sure we’ll be even stronger in Putrajaya because we’ve prepared well and learned a lot in China. We’ve made some big steps and I’m much more confident. Malaysia is a great country – it’s going to be good to be in a warm environment, though whether I’ll be saying that after working hard in my thick racesuit for 33 laps, I don’t know! The Putrajaya track looks like a really great layout; from what I saw in the simulator it looks like being an enjoyable challenge.”
Mark Preston, Team Principal
“I think we probably worried a few people in China. Our pre-season work, especially on the software side, has really made an impact. Our race pace is clearly good and both drivers managed their energy exceptionally – that’s proved by Nathanaël’s points and Antonio running consistently comfortably in energy targets. Compared to Beijing, which was pretty cold, we’re going to see hot temperatures, and it’s going to be important for the drivers to adjust their style to keep the cars cool. Based on our pure performance here last year we should go pretty well. Putrajaya is a modern city, it’s a beautiful and well-planned city, and it’s exactly the kind of place that Formula E should be going. It’s a different character to Beijing, but that’s the beauty of this championship.”